Cross-Canada professional education opportunities

There are so many excellent opportunities for professional education in the graphic arts industry that it’s impossible to list them all in a single article (or even two or three articles!). Below are highlights of college and university offerings relevant to graphic arts professionals. This list represents a range of different subject areas, as well as varying lengths of study (as short as a few weeks and as long as a few years), intensity (part-time and full-time), and accreditation level (no accreditation to certificates to graduate degrees).

In an upcoming edition of Graphic Arts Magazine, we’ll explore this topic further as it relates to industry organizations and private institutions that also offer professional education opportunities.

Athabasca University

Subject Area: Business Administration

Course/Program: Online Executive MBA

Length of study: 2.5-3 years part-time 

Location: Athabasca, AB (however all courses are delivered online)

Learning format: Online

Accreditation: Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Degree

Approximate Cost: $27,000 – $49,000

Description: Athabasca University is a specialist in distance education and this was the world’s first fully online Executive MBA program. It launched more than 22 years ago in 1994. Today, this is Canada’s largest Executive MBA program and it offers flexibility for learners to complete the program requirements at a pace that’s right for them.

More Information:

Centennial College

Subject Area: Publishing

Course/Program: Publishing – Book, Magazine and Electronic

Length of study: 1 year (2 semesters) full-time

Location: Toronto, ON

Learning format: In-class

Accreditation: Graduate Certificate

Approximate Cost: $5,500

Description: Centennial College’s publishing program was established in 1974 and it’s a post-graduate certificate for students who have already received a diploma or degree from a college or university. The publishing program is award-winning and includes a variety of courses related to writing, editing, managing content, copyright, and marketing specific to the publishing industry. The course work is capped off with a field placement.

More Information:

Conestoga College

Subject Area: Packaging 

Course/Program: Packaging Engineering Technician

Length of study: 2 years full-time

Location: Cambridge, ON

Learning format: In-class

Accreditation: Two-Year Ontario College Diploma

Approximate Cost: $8,000

Description: Conestoga College’s Packaging Engineering Technician program provides hands-on training to students regarding the structural design of packaging materials including metal, glass, plastic, paper, and corrugated. The program aims to help students proactively design packaging to avoid problems, as well as reactively solve technical issues related to the structure of a package. The capacity of each cohort is capped at 24 students and the program includes an optional co-op work placement.

More Information:

Dalhousie University

Subject Area: Operations Management 

Course/Program: Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Program

Length of study: 9 days of classes (over 3 months)

Location: Halifax, NS

Learning format: In-class

Accreditation: LSS Green Belt Certification

Approximate Cost: $4,000

Description: Lean manufacturing principles and six sigma strategies help companies achieve greater customer satisfaction through waste reduction and increased productivity. Recurring problems are identified and fixed through the lens of continuous improvement. This certification program is comprised of three modules that happen over a combined total of nine days in September, October, and November.

More Information:

Fanshawe College

Subject Area: Digital Marketing

Course/Program: Search Engine Marketing & Google Adwords Course

Length of study: 9 weeks part-time

Location: London, ON

Learning format: Online

Accreditation: n/a

Approximate Cost: $400

Description: Fanshawe College’s course in search engine marketing (including Google Adwords) is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the flexibility afforded by online course delivery on a highly relevant topic that’s continuously evolving. Important topics such as keyword research and ROI measurement are explored in this online course.

More Information:

George Brown College

Subject Area: Writing

Course/Program: Technical Communication Courses

Length of study: 9 weeks part-time (per course)

Location: Toronto, ON

Learning format: In-class

Accreditation: n/a

Approximate Cost: $250 (per course)

Description: Business writing and creative writing courses are quite common and offered at most post-secondary institutions, however technical writing courses offer more specialized training. Courses such as “Online Authoring for Technical Writers”, “Technical Editing and Production”, and “Technical Documentation – Advanced Concepts” are offered through George Brown College.   

More Information:

Humber College

Subject Area: Web Design

Course/Program: Web Design and Production Certificate

Length of study: 1 year (5 courses over 2-3 semesters) part-time

Location: Toronto, ON

Learning format: In-class

Accreditation: Continuing Education Certificate

Approximate Cost: $2,250

Description: This course builds the foundational skills to design websites including basic coding, HTML, and CSS, as well as an introduction to Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. An understanding of the creative workflow from idea generation to final website will be practiced, resulting in a final portfolio of work to show prospective clients.    

More Information:

OCAD University

Subject Area: Photography

Course/Program: Photography Courses

Length of study: 3-6 weeks part-time

Location: Toronto, ON

Learning format: In-class

Accreditation: n/a

Approximate Cost: $400 per course

Description: OCAD University is known for its creative courses in illustration, animation and interactive media, to name a few. Photography courses range from using digital photography equipment and photo manipulation software, to specific courses in areas such as fashion photography and portrait photography.   

More Information:

Ryerson University

Subject Area: Big Data

Course/Program: Data Analytics, Big Data, and Predictive Analytics

Length of study: 1 year (6 courses over 3 semesters) part-time

Location: Toronto, ON

Learning format: In-class

Accreditation: Continuing Education Certificate

Approximate Cost: $6,500

Description: “Big data” is one of the most important topics in today’s business environment. Questions like: How can big data be leveraged in business? What are the risks and rewards of collecting and using big data? What are the tools and techniques used to understand the overwhelming amount of big data that exists in today’s digital world? All of these questions and more can be answered in this unique certificate program offered through Ryerson University.

More Information:

Sheridan College

Subject Area: Health and Safety

Course/Program: Occupational Health and Safety Recognition of Achievement Program

Length of study: 7 courses part-time

Location: Mississauga, ON

Learning format: Blended (online and in-class)

Accreditation: Recognition of Achievement

Approximate Cost: $3,500

Description: Sheridan College’s Occupational Health and Safety Recognition of Achievement program provides the foundational knowledge to help professionals champion a safe workplace, including how to implement health and safety programs. These initiatives help reduce incidents and contribute to organizational profitability. 

More Information:

University of British Columbia

Subject Area: Marketing

Course/Program: Digital Marketing Communications Accelerated Diploma Program

Length of study: 4 months full-time

Location: Vancouver, BC

Learning format: Blended (online and in-class)

Accreditation: Continuing Studies Diploma

Approximate Cost: $8,300

Description: This unique program offered through the University of British Columbia is designed for post-secondary graduates or industry professionals looking to enhance their digital marketing skills. It combines seven weeks of online and in-class learning, an eight-week practicum, and a one-week capstone project. Topic areas in social media marketing, campaign measurement, and digital storytelling are all key themes explored in the program.

More Information:

University of Toronto

Subject Area: Project Management

Course/Program: Project Management Professional Certification

Length of study: 35 hours in-class (plus a four-year degree and 4,500 hours of project management experience OR a diploma and 7,500 hours of project management experience)

Location: Toronto, ON

Learning format: Online and in-class options

Accreditation: Project Management Professional (PMP) designation certified through the Project Management Institute (PMI)

Approximate Cost: $750 (for 35 hours in-class education)

Description: This University of Toronto initiative assists project managers in becoming certified as a “Project Management Professional” (PMP). UofT helps students complete the requirement for 35 hours of project management education through a variety of course offerings. After students have all of the in-class and professional experience requirements, they can submit their PMP application and write the PMP exam. UofT also offers a Certificate in Project Management made up of four courses that helps students further prepare for the PMP exam.

More Information:

York University

Subject Area: Design

Course/Program: Master of Design (MDes) Program

Length of study: 2 years full-time

Location: Toronto, ON

Learning format: In-class

Accreditation: Master of Design (MDes) Graduate Degree

Approximate Cost: $20,000

Description: York University’s Master of Design program is all about applying theory, research, and methods to the world of graphic design. Students will learn and experience the design process from idea generation through to final output in a variety of contexts.

More Information:


Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.