Saturday, February 14, 2009

Educational Update: Research Qualifications on the Net.

Educational Update: Research Qualifications on the Net.

It's Valentine's Day and I have fallen in love with a new certificate program. In 2004 I applied for a research assistant position at UOW however the PhD candidate wouldn't even meet me face to face. His reply was, "you haven't got the quantitative experience." Well, I remember my dreary days slogging through introductory calculus and minitab twenty years ago. I am sure the science of statistics has also grown more user friendly? So I began seeking out quantitative research certifications available over the net.

The first that caught my eye was the Quantitative Methods in Finance and Risk Management Graduate Certificate from Stanford University and received a prompt reply from Dr. Elena Chardon-Pietri.

How much does it cost?

"The base tuition rate is $1,300/unit. If you are employed by a Stanford Center for Professional Development member company, tuition rate is lower, $1,100/unit. Individual courses typically range from 3-5 units. For the Quantitative Methods in Finance and Risk Management Graduate Certificate you need to register for a total of 9 units. In addition there is a one time fee of $80. (Please note that I am quoting current tuition rates.) And to take courses through the Stanford Center for Professional Development any give quarter, you must enroll for at least 3 units. For further information about the Stanford Center for Professional Development company membership, please visit:"

2. How long are each of the three required courses?

"Stanford University is on the quarter system. Each quarter is ten weeks of lectures followed by exam week. (Some courses do not have a final exam.)"

3. Is it possible to complete entirely through online learning?

"All the courses you would have to take for the certificate will be offered online and accessible 24/7 anywhere you have internet access for the duration of the quarter in which you are registered. The lectures are uploaded and made available online about two hours after each has taken place on campus.

The Spring Quarter is coming up soon; the enrollment period opens today, February 9, and closes March 25. However, it will be in the Summer Quarter when we will be offering STATS 237 and STATS 243, which count towards the certificate you are interested in pursuing."

Additional information

"As part of the enrollment process you will need to submit official academic transcripts to the Stanford Center for Professional Development. We accept faxed copies just to get your file started, but will still need the official transcript(s)."

Submit official transcripts to

SCPD Registration
496 Lomita Mall Durand Bldg, Room 301
Stanford CA 94305-4036

If you are interested in pursuing your education through SCPD, please create a free account at If you do not enroll, you will still get free access to the seminars we offer online.

On visiting their website I selected a few sample videos of the statistics courses and cannot imagine processing those calculations through distance education at this time. However it appears quite close to what I was looking for.

The next program I stumbled upon that I thought might be a good fit is The University of Illinois at Chicago Educational Research Methodology Certificate (ERM) soon to be hopefully approved. Dr. Everett Smith sent a prompt reply and flyer to my enquiry regarding the availability of this program: "There are links on the 6th page to web pages containing more details regarding degree requirements, course descriptions, costs, a schedule of courses (which will be updated soon), and FAQs. Additional information (namely how to apply) will be posted when final University approval is obtained, which is likely to happen this February/early March. I will put you on a list to let you know when this
information is available."

The ERM Certificate will train learners in measurement, evaluation, statistics and assessment and is described as being useful to those seeking instruction in research methods.

However the timing on this program is not yet confirmed so I did a little more digging.

Canada is not often my first choice for distance or online learning; it just appears to trail behind the pack in this regard, and considering Conference Board of Canada's innovation and technology scores for 2008 I am not surprised. However a popular distance learning option these days (I actually took my first distance course from The University of Waterloo when the latest technology was cassette tapes) is available in certificates of business analysis applicable to the IIBA Certification. Ryerson Certificate in Business Analysis, The University of Toronto Business Analysis Program and UBC Certificate in Business Analysis are just a few of the online providers these days.

I decided to put my question to the UBC BEA Program,Client Services responded, "Business Analysis deals with analyzing practices, systems, and procedures within a business in order to identify problems and increase efficiency. This is not a research program."

I had no idea how popular business analysis has become in Canada however I am glad that the learning can be availed at a distance for those actually working on solving problems. However it was clear this program is not what I am looking for at this time but I am glad it is out there.

Finally it almost appears similar to the story of Goldilocks and the three bears (except there are four) as another program came up in my dragnet. The Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation is provided in a consortia of Oz-ian institutions including: Curtin University of Technology, Queensland University of Technology, RMIT University, University of South Australia and University of Technology Sydney. While these are not the top ten schools in Australia they have been making waves and moving up local ladders in terms of quality standards and particularly distance education and offshore franchise degree programs or campuses. I would describe them as entrepreneurial and fairly "switched on" in Asia. Check out QUT's Kelvin Grove Urban Village Development in Brisbane.

eGSA Coordinator Ms. Lisa Reyes responded promptly to my questions regarding this program. eGSA describes on its website, " (it) will support you in developing international research opportunities; industry collaboration and team based interdisciplinary approaches. The course structure provides a unique networking opportunity for research stakeholders encouraging online sharing of experiences and best practice.

Capabilities developed through the program are designed to assist you with the flexibility to perform in an ever changing research environment. The course covers topics including research integrity, research governance, project selection and delivery, advocacy and knowledge transfer. Informed by current theory and best practice the course assessment will focus on your issues and, where possible, articulate with existing workplace based projects."

I liked reading that. In response to my questions Ms. Reyes replied:

1. Am I able to enroll as a distance online student for this certificate program?

"Yes, you are qualified to enrol in the Grad Cert course."

2. What is the total tuition fee for this program?

"You need to complete 4 units to graduate. Each unit will cost $2600 for international student if you commence in semester 2, 2009. The course cost is $10,400."

3. What is the general completion time for part-time or distance students?

"You can take one or two units per semester depending on your workload. We normally say to students to allow 6 to 8 hours per week per unit. Most of our part time students enrol in 2 units per semester so they can finish the course in one year.

Please note that we also have a Master of R&D management course which is 100% online. All your Grad Cert units will be credited towards the Masters course. If you wish, you can enrol in the Master program directly since your academic background will also qualify you to the Master course."

So out of the four the final program stole the show so to speak. It was an interesting search for a research training course which will increase my probability of selection for international research consulting contracts in future and hopefully will provide the right mix of quantitative methods skills to be useful if and when I ever jump ship for a PhD program. But all of these programs appear to have merit and may capture more of my attention in future.


Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

Business Analysis is becoming very popular not just in Canada but everywhere.

There are quite a number of specialized business analysis training providers popping up all over North America.

Also - there are now many resources available for business analysts such as, the premier online community and resource portal for business analysts.

- Adrian

Daniel Costello said...

Hello Adrian,

So what quantitative research courses might you recommend?

Cheers, Daniel