Develop your skill as a leader in colleges or universities. Learn to shape the future of higher education at the administrative level through policy, governance and strategic and operational planning.
Filter to view upcoming intakes
August 14, 2023
August 12, 2024
You have a calling to lead in a college or university. To ensure the success of higher education and enhance outcomes for students.
In the Graduate Certificate in Systems Leadership in Higher Education, you'll study national and international perspectives on higher education systems and consider how policies and governance shape them.
You'll explore leadership, change management and systems thinking and learn to make meaningful contributions at the administrative level.
And you'll study strategic and operational planning that will help you shape the future of higher education institutions.
Who it's for
This program is a good fit for those who work or want to work as an administrator in a post-secondary educational environment.
Once you've completed this program, you'll:
- apply systems thinking to strategically plan and manage the higher education institutional environment to support student learning
- integrate evidence-based decision making approaches into administrative leadership practices to support growth and improvement
- understand and use change and improvement processes to support student learning and institutional growth
Our graduates work in roles such as:
- associate vice president, director, coordinator student affairs
- college deans/chairs leadership and administrative positions in university or college enrolment services
- leadership positions in marketing, recruitment, advancement and residence life
This program is delivered entirely online.
Online courses consist of assigned readings, synchronous or asynchronous lectures, interactive discussions, and individual and team assignments.
You’re expected to meet deadlines and contribute meaningfully to your class. Your contributions are a big part of everyone’s learning.
Each 3-credit online course requires approximately 100 hours of work.
You'll start your program with a non-credit, but required, course about academic integrity.
Applications are assessed through an integrated and consolidated review of academic credentials, work experience, and personal experience; because of the holistic nature of this review, all applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.
- Four-year (or comparable) undergraduate degree from a recognized post-secondary institution.
- Minimum of three years of relevant, paid work experience within recognized higher education institutions (i.e., public or accredited colleges, universities, poly-techniques, or institutions providing formal tertiary programs), including some leadership* experience.
Emerging leaders who have fewer than three years of leadership* experience, yet have been in recent leadership or people management role(s) for two years or more, demonstrate exceptional leadership potential through their professional and life experiences, are preparing for further leadership roles, and otherwise meet the standard admissions criteria, are encouraged to apply.
- To be considered for flexible admission, applicants would normally require a minimum of seven years work experience in higher education institutions (i.e., public or accredited colleges, universities, poly-techniques, or institutions providing formal tertiary programs) and have a minimum of three years of leadership* experience.
*Leadership experience could include one or more of the following:
- Roles in which you consult, negotiate with, or manage diverse interest groups through relationship, in a complex environment.
- Roles in which you lead others toward shared goals and outcomes.
- Roles in which you influence, organize, and coordinate groups of people.
- Leadership roles in volunteer organizations.
- Formal organizational leadership roles in which you directly supervise staff or complete performance-oriented work with individuals, groups, or teams.
- Overcoming a challenging life experience (for self or others), which involved navigating complex systems and resulted in positive community change beyond the individual.
English language proficiency
- If English is not your primary language, please review our English language requirements.
All applications to this program require submission of the following information and supporting documents before your file can be assessed for admission:
In order to apply online, you will be required to create a log-in account using your email address. You will be required to list all credit courses and/or programs you have completed or are currently enrolled in. An application fee will be required. If your application fees are being paid by a third party, review sponsored student information. Once submitted, you may check the status of your application at any time.
Applicants are responsible for arranging for the submission of official transcripts from ALL post-secondary (higher education) institutions currently or previously attended, for all credit courses and/or programs. Transcripts are not required for non-credit programs or courses, though some programs may require proof of professional certifications or designations.
Transcripts are considered official only if submitted directly by the Registrar or other recognized authority of the providing institution in the institution's original, sealed envelope. If the envelope has been opened, the transcripts are no longer official and new (official) transcripts will be required to complete your application.
All international transcripts or credentials are subject to an international transcript and/or credential evaluation.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to tell us why you are interested in the GC in Systems Leadership in Higher Education program and how the program will help you meet your professional goals. Your personal statement should address each of the following questions:
- What can you contribute to the class' learning?
- What do you anticipate will be your challenges as a graduate student in the GC in Systems Leadership in Higher Education program?
- What do you expect from the GC in Systems Leadership in Higher Education program in terms of the learning process?
- What do you envision for your professional goals once you have completed the program?
Your 750-850 word statement should be presented in a well written and concise manner using proper grammar and punctuation.
Your application requires two letters of reference. Ideally, these letters speak to your academic potential, your professional expertise, and your personal attributes. Applicants should provide one professional reference letter and one academic reference letter. Applicants who may have difficulty securing an academic reference may instead submit a personal character reference.
- Professional reference: This letter should attest to your performance in the context of your current or previous work. The letter can address such areas as leadership potential, career commitment, human relations and supervisory skills, flexibility, communication, and technical skills.
- Academic reference: Academic letters of reference should attest to your academic achievement, study skills, teamwork, leadership potential, human relations, flexibility, communication, and technical skills.
- Personal character reference: Your personal character reference should consist of a letter from someone who has known you for several years outside of the context of your work. Please ask the writer to indicate the length of time and context in which they have known you, and to consider the following attributes in their letter about you: honesty, integrity, responsibility, adaptability, concern, and respect for others, sense of self-esteem and confidence.
Your structured résumé should include the following:
- Education: List all post-secondary education, degrees, diplomas, and certificates you have achieved.
- Work experience: Please include the name of the organization, length of service (month & year), and a brief description of duties.
- Training and professional development: List career-related training and professional development programs completed within the past five years. Include the source of training, and the duration and year completed. List other training and personal development programs not already identified.
- Voluntary/unpaid work experience: List and describe any voluntary/unpaid post-secondary employment and/or community service experience. Please include the name of the organization, length of service and a brief description of your duties.
- Leadership/change agent/trainer experience: Briefly describe any specific training and/or experience you have had as a group/project leader, coordinator of change initiatives, or trainer.
- Professional memberships/affiliations: List memberships and positions you hold/have held in professional associations, service clubs, the community/volunteer sector.
- International experience: Indicate any work and/or volunteer experience you have had that you feel is relevant to the GC in Systems Leadership in Higher Education program.
- Applicants declaring permanent resident or Convention Refugee status in Canada must submit a copy of their Permanent Resident Card (PR card) along with their application.
- Transcript evaluation fee or credential evaluation report, if submitting international transcripts.
- An official English language proficiency score report or other evidence of proficiency if English is not your primary language.
- Other information or documents as may be requested to determine your eligibility.
For information on how and where to send your supporting documents, please refer to the document submission guidelines.
Financial aid and awards
RBC Community Integrated Learning Grants
Funding for students completing a required career learning and development (CLD) work term in the community of at least 420 hours with an organization that cannot provide wages or compensation.
ACT WEST Community Foundation Fund
The ACT WEST Community Foundation helps support single mothers build better lives for themselves and their children.
up to 4 years tuition
Admiral John Charles and Mary Charles Scholarship
Awarded annually to a second year School of Humanitarian Studies student who is currently serving or retired military.
Active students (In-course)
Allan Cahoon Global Advancement and Diversity Award
Assist students in underrepresented populations who wish to promote diversity.
Active students (In-course)
Allan Cahoon Scholarship
This scholarship aims to encourage academic excellence, supporting students who excel both academically and through their leadership.
Active students (In-course)
Andrea Fallan Memorial Bursary
Provides financial assistance to a second year BCom student for exceptional leadership, community involvement, and dedication to promote a cohesive team environment.
Active students (In-course)
Asper Foundation Communications Award
Awarded to students in communications-related degree working in, or seeking to work in the communications industry.
Active students (In-course)
Assistance Program for Students with Permanent Disabilities
This program helps students with permanent disabilities pay for exceptional education-related services and adaptive equipment.
Up to $12,144/year