Professional Online Scholarship & Training Initiative (POST)

The Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows (DGS) is accepting proposals for the development of online (or blended) graduate programs aimed at working professionals looking to advance, restart or transform their careers. The intent is to mobilize our research excellence by putting cutting edge knowledge in the hands of the professional community. These programs can be completely online or blended in their delivery. 

In terms of blended delivery, this can be a mixture of online and in-person instruction in individual courses or a blending of both online courses with short in-person residences. In this way, SFU can provide flexible programs tailored to the needs of working professionals. 

Unlike the college-age cohort, the working-age cohort is projected to remain relatively unchanged over the next five to twenty years and is two and a half times the size of our traditional college-age cohort. By developing online professional graduate programs, SFU will mitigate the negative effects of the decline in our traditional demographic and at the same time reach out to a large and stable demographic. Not only will these programs bring new sources of revenue to SFU, but the engagement they create with a broader demographic will increase public support for our overall mission.

University priority funds have been committed to help offset the cost of developing, marketing and launching these online professional programs (i.e. certificates, diplomas and possibly degrees) due to the high up-front costs and delay in the return on investment. These programs will not be supported by the provincial grant, so all proposals should be self-supporting and not require the hiring of additional permanent faculty.

All proposals must include the following:

  • support of the academic unit
  • one to two identified continuing faculty champions who will take a leadership role in the program
  • letters of support from the Graduate Program Committee, Faculty Dean and from professionals and/or an advisory committee working in the program area
  • a commitment from the academic unit for a portion of the development costs of the program ($20,000 - $30,000)
  • a business case illustrating that the program is attractive to an audience who can afford the high tuition necessary to cover costs associated with program delivery; anticipated student enrolment
  • a statement explaining how the online credential will add to the strategic plan of the University and address points within the VPA’s Academic Plan and the faculty and department strategic plans
  • overview of the curriculum including anticipated course titles, educational goals, and assessment criteria
  • specific plans for any revenue generated

Only two to three proposals will be approved for development per year due to limited financial and personnel resources. All program proposals must conform to the standard university template and be approved as a cohort special arrangements program by the Senate Graduate Studies Committee (SGSC). Ultimately, programs must go through the full normal university approval process (SGSC, SCUP, Senate, BOG and the Ministry of Advanced Education).  The tuition to be charged will be reviewed by the Faculty Dean, Dean of Graduate Studies and AVPA with final approval by the BOG. A standard revenue-sharing model will be employed. Tuitions are expected to range from a low of about $7,000-$10,000 for a certificate to upwards of $35,000 for a masters degree. 

Given that very few proposals can be supported in any given year the following priorities have been established:

  • academic rigor
  • market niche and market demand
  • community engagement
  • relevance to existing programs
  • revenue-generating ability
  • support from outside governing bodies of the profession
  • financial or in-kind contributions from external agencies, organizations or industries
  • relevance to current BC political climate as it pertains to higher education
  • alignment with University strategic plan, VPA academic plan and Surrey initiatives
  • adaptability of the curriculum
  • overall production cost and relative production costs to expected lifespan of the program

Seed Funding
DGS will make available seed funding of $5,000 to conduct market analyses and develop proposals for the Professional Online Scholarship & Training Initiative (POST) provided either the project lead(s) or graduate program chair attend two workshops designed to ensure that submitted proposals are of high quality and provide DGS with the market analysis regardless of whether a proposal is ultimately submitted.

  • Workshop One: Preparing a Winning Proposal (2 hrs)
  • Workshop Two: Contextual Framework for Post Proposals (2 hrs)

In staging these workshops we hope to achieve the following:

  • POST proposal submission meets the highest standards possible.
  • POST proposals address the funding objectives and call.
  • POST proposals take into account the role and expertise of various units within SFU.
  • POST Proposals demonstrate clear sustainability in terms of academic provisioning and ongoing business sustainment for programs being proposed.

The Spring 2016 workshops will be held on January 27th and February 17th. Questions can be directed to either Peter Liljedahl (, 778-782-9079) or Krista Gerlich-Fitzgerald (, 778-782-3948).

Spring 2016 Workshops

Jan. 27, 2016 from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Feb. 17, 2016 from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Location: LIB 2020 (Thesis Defence room, Burnaby campus)

Registration Information

To register for the workshops, please email ( 

Anticipated Costs

Note: The Anticipated Costs document projects an $80k budget but programs vary greatly in complexity and you may propose a budget commensurate to mount the program which may be less or more than $80K.


(Updated January 2016)


Questions can be directed to either Peter Liljedahl (, 778-782-9079) or Krista Gerlich-Fitzgerald (, 778-782-3948).