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Current UNC graduate students, postdocs, and employees, and external applicants at the graduate coursework level are eligible for the Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership and Management.

Apply for the Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership and Management

Deadline for Fall 2024: August 14; priority deadline July 31.

Carolina graduate students and postdocs can enroll in CareerWell courses without applying to the certificate.

Certificate Features and Requirements


The Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership and Management emphasizes innovation and commercialization as well as workplace leadership and management principles.

This certificate offers several features, including:

  • Skill development in areas highly valued by companies, nonprofits, and government units
  • Opportunities to complete work experiences relevant to the needs of employers
  • A customizable curriculum that includes six credits of core courses and three credits of electives
  • A notation on your transcript once you have successfully completed the certificate.


Core courses (6 credits)

GRAD 712 - Leadership in the Workplace

Leadership in the Workplace is a seven-week, online course offered through The Graduate School’s CareerWell program to help you examine and develop your individual leadership abilities by focusing on the actions and behaviors associated with effective leaders. Through individual reflection, self-assessment, collaborative exercises, coaching, and class feedback, you will work to define your unique leadership style and build the foundation for ongoing leadership development, no matter where you are in your career. Throughout the course, you will work individually and as a group to prepare for active participation in organizations. This is a fully online course with some synchronous components. You will benefit from one-on-one coaching with your instructor and developing an individual leadership development plan to support ongoing learning.

GRAD 713 - Applied Project Management: Frameworks, Principles and Techniques

Applied Project Management is an online short course offered through The Graduate School’s CareerWell program to help you understand how to employ project management techniques effectively in a variety of workplaces. Through a combination of team projects, readings, video tutorials, and synchronous class sessions, we will cover key topics including planning and monitoring projects, risk management, stakeholder management, and time and cost management. Those of you with some informal project management experience may benefit from understanding best practices, but this course is not intended for experienced project managers or those who have completed project management courses. This is a fully online course with mandatory synchronous class sessions scheduled for each module. GRAD 713 employs a flipped classroom strategy. You will read from two textbooks, watch videos, complete short quizzes, post to online forums and complete assignments outside of the class sessions. Synchronous sessions may include review of completed assignments, discussion of key topics and work on group assignments.

GRAD 714 - Introduction to Financial Accounting

This course will teach the basics of Financial Accounting, including the Balance Sheet, the Income Statement, and the Statement of Cash Flows and Budgeting. The final presentation will incorporate financial skills and knowledge that can be used to support a future project proposal to business managers in an organization. Note that there is a required materials fee for this fully asynchronous course.

GRAD 715 - Business Communication

This seminar-style course teaches you skills for professional writing (e.g. email messages, short reports, and executive summaries) and presenting (e.g. storytelling, projecting a professional image, and managing Q&A). Key topics include selecting and organizing content, developing audience-centered visual aids, organization, accessibility, clarity and conciseness, tone, visual displays of information, and communicating complex topics using plain language in professional settings. This course is both writing-and speaking-intensive and requires a strong command of the English language. GRAD715 is also a required course to earn the Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership and Management. For all other programs, please check with your director of graduate studies to learn how GRAD715 will count toward your degree requirements.

Electives (3 credits)

GRAD 717 - Introduction to Entrepreneurship and The Entrepreneurial Mindset

GRAD 717 provides graduate students from a wide range of departments with an overview of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking. As part of this, students will learn and apply the lean startup methodology to develop and validate a business idea. By the end of the course, students will:

  1.  Understand what entrepreneurship is, the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur and the societal impact of entrepreneurship;
  2. Learn entrepreneurial thinking and how it can be applied to both building new businesses (startups) as well as applied within an existing business or organization (intrapreneurship);
  3. Learn the lean startup methodology of hypothesize → validate → iterate; and,
  4. Use the lean canvas to understand the key components of new business. 

GRAD 718 - Start the Startup: Bringing Ideas to Market

Do you have an idea for a startup company? Would you like to explore the feasibility of launching a business? Start the Startup (STS) gives graduate students the opportunity to test and validate a new business idea using the Lean Startup methodology. Don’t have an idea but want to learn the process? You can join a team going through the course. Teams will receive coaching as well as a final recommendation from an expert panel.

GRAD 725 - Build Your Professional Brand

Building effective job search materials and a strong online presence is essential for career success inside and outside the academy. In GRAD 725, you will work with professionals with expertise in all areas of the job search process to develop your brand including LinkedIn profile, resume/CV, cover letters and more. You will identify your job values and job skills and develop a professional development plan. Interactive sessions will provide the setting to develop/refine your job search materials and your career approach. Open to all graduate students in any discipline.

GRAD 726 - Executive Perspective: Business Fundamentals

Executive Perspective: Business Fundamentals is a full semester online seminar series offered through The Graduate School’s CareerWell program. This course will introduce a variety of fundamental business considerations, strategies, and drivers essential to organizational success, from an executive’s perspective. Topics will include corporate structure, organizational evolution, customer discovery and validation, financial and revenue planning, strategic partnerships, and more. The series will also reinforce concepts taught in other CareerWell GRAD courses by placing them in the context of career paths that are of interest to students. Presentations will also be offered by invited speakers to provide additional context for these fundamentals and their career challenges and rewards.

GRAD 727 - Team Collaboration

Team Collaboration is a seven-week course and development series designed to prepare Carolina graduate students to work within multidisciplinary teams and complete real-world projects designed jointly with partnering companies and organizations. This course will support the ability of Carolina graduate students to develop skills in several areas, gain practical work experience as a part of a cross-disciplinary team, and leverage their disciplinary training and creativity to move ideas and projects forward in a real-world context.

The series will also reinforce concepts taught in other CareerWell GRAD business fundamentals courses through the application of learning in other courses to project work. Several lectures and presentations will be offered by invited speakers to provide additional context for these skills and experiences.

GRAD 736 - Venture Capital Practicum

In this experiential course, students will explore the activities and tools needed to make actual investment decisions for emerging companies. The course is offered in collaboration with Carolina Research Ventures (CRV), which supports companies engaged in commercializing technologies and other assets emanating from the University and UNC Health. Students will learn principles of rigorous and reproducible due diligence and market research; learn key components to the conduct of thorough due diligence on early-stage companies.

GRAD 755 - Technology Commercialization Fundamentals

Technology Commercialization Fundamentals is a seven-week, online course offered through Innovate Carolina’s KickStart Venture Services and The Graduate School’s CareerWell program to provide an overview of the fundamental first steps of technology commercialization, with a specific emphasis on university technology commercialization (aka technology transfer). The course will cover several topics, including market assessment, intellectual property, technology development, licensing, commercial development, and University startups.

GRAD 756 - Research to Revenue: University Startups

Prerequisite, GRAD 755. Universities are rich sources of ideas and innovation. As such, they provide the springboard for launching high growth startups. These startups emanate from a variety of university sources, ranging from students with disruptive business models to faculty and graduate students with innovative research discoveries. This course explores the latter: university startups developed as part of the university research engine. The course builds on the concepts of GRAD 755: Fundamentals of Technology Commercialization.

GRAD 758 - Managing People and Professional Relationships

Managing People and Professional Relationships is designed to prepare graduate students in all disciplines for the formal or informal leadership roles that they are likely to hold in their career. Topics will include personnel management, difficult conversations, negotiation, emotional intelligence, and ethical behavior. Through case studies, role play, readings, discussion, and written or recorded deliverables, students will enhance their ability to manage up, down, and laterally in any professional setting.

GRAD 770 - Executive Perspective: The Digital Revolution and its Impact of Business

Executive Perspective: The Digital Revolution and its Impact on Business is a seven-week, online course offered through The Graduate School’s CareerWell program to provide an overview and introduction, from an executive’s perspective, to digital transformation principles for individuals, and organizations in response to the explosion in information technology, which is remaking the world, leaving few aspects of society untouched. In preparation for trends elicited by this ‘digital revolution,’ students will explore new models of engagement, persona discovery, value mapping, and systems thinking and anchor them to the attributes of the digital revolution. Through classroom sessions and assignments, students will apply several frameworks, including human-centered design, agile development, lean operations. This course provides an opportunity to learn, share, and experiment with the critical personal and professional operating models and tools necessary for leading a successful life and career navigating the digital revolution. Throughout the semester we will explore the analog-to-digital transformation through compelling case study reviews, engaging experimental workshops, and pop-up talks by engaging leaders who will share and inspire.