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Any UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student is eligible to earn the Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership, & Management (GCILM).

Apply for the Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership and Management (enrollment windows: Oct. 15–Nov. 15; March 15–April 15)

Please note: Effective immediately, The Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership, & Management replaces the Graduate Certificate in Business Fundamentals (GCBF). However, Carolina graduate students admitted to pursue the GCBF before December 2020 may continue completion of GCBF requirements and earn the certificate upon completion. OR, previously admitted students may contact CareerWell if they instead intend to pursue the new certificate.

Please also note that Carolina graduate students can enroll in CareerWell courses without applying to the certificate.

Certificate Features & Requirements


Based on feedback from numerous stakeholders, including Carolina graduate students, employers, and members of the recently formed CareerWell Advisory Committee, we proudly offer this new certificate, which 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 through team internships
  • Foundations Level – This option requires only 9 credit hours of coursework (see requirements below) and the courses may be completed in any order.
  • Advanced Level – This option requires completion of 15 credits hours of coursework (see requirements below; courses may be completed in any order) but offers additional professional development, an advanced experience (ie, a real-world interdisciplinary team internship designed jointly with a CareerWell partner), and opportunities to learn directly from corporate executives.
  • Your graduate school transcript will note you earned the Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership, & Management.

Certificate completion form


Foundations Level – Core courses

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..

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. (Instructor: Melissa Geil).

GRAD 716 - Market Research: Assess and Validate Your Market

Enrollment in this course is offered by invitation only for KickStart Venture Services Venture Catalyst Fellows and select graduate students. It is a seven-week, online course offered through Innovate Carolina’s KickStart Venture Services and The Graduate School’s CareerWell programs. This course is intended to provide participants with strategies, tactics, and resources to conduct real-world primary market research and evaluate sources of secondary market research. (Instructor: Chris Morrison)

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. (Instructor: Don Rose)

Advanced Level – Core courses + electives

GRAD 726 - Executive Perspective: Business Fundamentals

**Not offered Spring 2022 Semester** 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. An opportunity will be provided for students to earn an “Honors” designation by completing additional work (during the second half of the semester, after the official course ends) involving evaluation of market viability for Carolina startup companies. Dr Townsend will provide additional details during the Fall 2021 semester.

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.

Enrollment in this course is offered by invitation only. The course instructor will contact master’s and doctoral students on an individual basis to participate in the interdisciplinary team projects. 

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

**Not offered Spring 2022 Semester** 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.

MBA 848A: Startup UNC–Feasibility I (Mod I)

Feasibility I is a first pass at validating the business idea and understanding the entrepreneurial process. The following topics will be covered:

  • Value Proposition
  • Customer Discovery–Problem Interviews
  • Competition and Benchmarking
  • Beachhead Market and Target Customer (Persona)
  • Business Model
  • Product Specification, Features, and Benefits
  • Management Team and Advisors
  • Financial Model
  • Communicating the Business Concept

MBA 848B: Startup UNC–Feasibility II (Mod II)

Because entrepreneurship is an iterative process, Feasibility II continues to develop and refine the product or service idea explored in Mod 1. Many of the same topics will be covered but at a much greater depth. Topics will include the following:

  • The Selling Proposition and the Quantified Value Proposition
  • Customer Discovery–Solution Interviews
  • Detailed Competitive Analysis
  • TAM, Market Segments and Follow-on Markets
  • Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
  • New Venture Financing
  • The Pitch Deck
  • Pricing Framework
  • Lifetime Value (LTV) and Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA)
  • Refined Financial Model and Funding Strategy
  • Business Development Plan

At the end of Feasibility II, teams will present their case for proceeding to the next two phases: Strategy and Finance.

MBA 848C: Startup UNC–Strategy (Mod III)

Strategy phase of the course assumes that any pivots in the product, customer segment and pricing model have been made and the value proposition and market characteristics have been defined.  In this phase the teams will flush out the entire plan for executing their vision. The business case will evolve into a business plan and/or pitch deck that defines the go to market strategy. Elements will include:

  • Revenue assumptions and projections
  • Go to market sales and/or marketing plan
  • Product development and milestone metrics
  • Operations or strategic partnership plans
  • Management team and board roles and hiring plans

Teams will be presenting the plans each week to outside advisors and the professors with the goal of refining and deepening their specific strategies.

MBA 848D: Startup UNC–Financing (Mod IV)

The objective of this final phase of Startup UNC is to develop a refined business plan that is ready to expose to sources of capital and to the market. This course will initially focus on the gaps in the draft business plan that was submitted in Mod 3 for MBA 848C.  The class is designed to provide an understanding of how funding sources evaluate startups and expose the teams to qualified experts in the world of startup funding.

The Financing Phase builds cumulatively upon the market content and financial models presented in the Feasibility and Strategy phases.  It prepares students for the process of forming the legal structure for their venture and launching their business idea. There will be a combination of lectures and coaching sessions.  The first lectures will begin with an overview of the major gaps in teams’ venture pitches and business plans, as well as discussions of Financial Models, simple company Valuation analyses and Exit options.  For most companies, the class will require a deeper evaluation of the customers and competitors. For some companies, it will be a time to search for and expand their Advisory Board. And for almost all teams it will be mean more time with financial pro-formas to assure a solid foundation of assumptions that will be credible to outside investors and reviewers. More advanced financial modeling and financing strategies will be one of the primary thrusts of this phase.

Course Modules and Goals

  • Financial Modeling
  • Exit Strategy/Valuation
  • Grants
  • Angel Investing
  • Venture Capital
  • Legal Issues/Due Diligence Process

As a final deliverable for the class, teams will produce and submit a final venture pitch, including complete financials and market research.  It will be due and presented at the final class session.