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Fundamentals of Co-operative Organizations Program

A Professional Certificate from the Schulich School of Business,
in partnership with the Ontario Co-operative Association.

This standard-setting education in co-operative leadership and expertise is results-driven, practical and optimized for working professionals.

  • 10 weeks of part-time studies, designed to fit into your busy schedule
  • Online and in-person sessions
  • Instruction from leading executives and scholars
  • For co-op and credit union staff, managers, directors, members and entrepreneurs


This critically acclaimed program equips co-operative businesses with highly skilled leaders. Qualified professionals with specialized skillsets will strengthen co-operative organizations with their capacity to respond to the unique challenges they face.

Graduates will:

(1) learn specialized knowledge in areas such as governance, membership development, legislation, financing and co-op development;
(2) develop critical thinking, management and leadership skills;
(3) advance their career in the co-operative sector; and
(4) strengthen network connections colleagues from across the sector.

The curriculum has been developed by leading co-op executives in partnership with York University’s Schulich School of Business.  Its integrated online and in-class components are optimized to work around your busy schedule.  Its emphasis on teamwork provides students with insights into leadership and organizational dynamics while creating opportunities to build relationships with peers and professors.  We create invaluable opportunities to engage with sector executives in our “Lunch-n-Learn” sessions. We provide ongoing mentorship, and enable students to access resources and establish network connections within a dynamic co-operative sector. 

Students may come from anywhere in Ontario, Canada or from abroad, but must be able to attend all three seminars in person in Toronto.


  • Harnessing the co-op advantage
  • Co-op challenges and opportunities
  • Managing the unique co-op environment
  • Navigating co-op legislation and regulations
  • Staff, board and member development and engagement
  • Strategic planning and managing change
  • Contemporary governance issues and strategies
  • Co-operative enterprise accounting and financial management
  • Raising capital
  • Developing and growing your co-op


Over 10 weeks of part-time study:

  • There are 6 evening webinars, scheduled on Tuesdays from 7-8.30pm.  There is generally little pre-work required for these sessions. 
  • There are three face-to-face seminars, each running from 9am – 4.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.  They are scheduled 4-6 weeks apart, and require students to be present onsite in Toronto. 
  • A Thursday evening reception and course introduction will precede the first seminar in Toronto.
  • There are 2 assignments which take about ten hours each to research and complete. 


Seminars will be hosted at the corporate offices of Alterna Savings and Credit Union, 165 Attwell Drive, Toronto.  This site is near Pearson International Airport, and is easily accessed by public transit, including bus lines:

  • 52 (TTC) – To/from airport and subway line 1
  • 112 (TTC) – to/from Kipling station line 2
  • 191 (TTC peak hours) - to/from Kipling station line 2 but faster
  • 34 (GO Transit) – To Don Mills station 

There are several accommodation options within walking distance of this site. Students must make their own travel and accommodation arrangements, as these are not included in Program fees.


PROGRAM FEES (based on 2016 fees)

  • On Co-op member organizations: $3,300+tax
  • On Co-op member affiliates: $3,500+tax
  • Non-affiliated applicants: $3,900+tax
  • Fees include all reading materials, course packs and other resources required for the Certificate Program, as well as lunches during onsite seminars.
  • Payment plans are available.
  • Refund Policy: Refunds will be considered - less a $100 administration fee - if requested in writing to On Co-op on or before the commencement of the course date.
  • Refunds will not be given after the course begins 
  • A credit towards the tuition of the next cohort may be considered if requested in writing to On Co-op.  
  • No credit will be given after the completion of the course.


The Fundamentals of Co-operative Organizations certificate is designed for those working for, governing, or developing co-operatives and credit unions of all types and sizes and in all jurisdictions.   

  • There are no prior academic or co-op sector requirements.
  • All individuals with an interest in co-operative entrepreneurship, operations, management or governance are encouraged to apply.
  • The Program is presented in English only. Students must have a good working knowledge of English and be able to read, write and speak English.
  • Students with disabilities are asked to [requires javascript] On Co-op prior to applying.

To apply, submit the following documents to:

Maia Saneblidze
Program Assistant
Social Sector Management Program 
Room N320 SSB
Schulich School of Business, York University
4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416-736-5092
Fax: 416-736-5762

1. A statement of interest (no longer than two pages) detailing your history in the co-operative sector, your personal learning and organizational goals with respect to this program, and providing evidence of your management/employment and leadership roles.

2. Your current resume, biography or CV.

3. A completed application form, which can be found in the “Downloads” section located on the upper right side of this webpage.  Click on the document titled “Fundamentals of Co-operative Organizations Certificate Program”.  The application form is on the last page of that document.


  • A maximum of 25 applicants will be accepted into this cohort based on their experience, interest and commitment. Once approved, your seat in the cohort cannot be transferred to another student.
  • Certificates are awarded on the basis of attendance at classes and webinars and completed assignments.


Thanks to a grant from the CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., a limited number of bursaries are available to representatives of small, as well as new (0 -5 years) and emerging co-operatives wishing to take the FCO program. Successful recipients will receive between $500 - $1,000 pending need and availability of funds. To apply, please contact Lauren Hillson at [requires javascript] or by calling 1.888.745.5521 x.27.

Payment plans are also available to those who require financial assistance, but who are not eligible for a bursary.

For financial assistance, apply in writing to [requires javascript], FCO Program Administrator, Ontario Co-operative Association, by December 17, 1016. Under exceptional circumstances only, strict adherence to this date may be waived. The request letter must include:

1) The type of financial assistance requested
2) The amount of upfront financial contribution that can be made; and
3) The benefits to the student and/or organization of participating in the FCO Program.

For detailed information on financial assistance eligibility and application process, refer to the downloadable document located on the upper right side of this page, entitled FCO 2017 Funding Assistance Guidelines.

OTHER FUNDING ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE! Individuals and organizations can also apply for a job training grant through the Government’s Canada Job Grant Ontario fund...Click HERE for more information!


Director of the Fundamentals of Co-operative Organizations Program
Associate Dean, Programs, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
York University

Professor J.J. McMurtry holds a doctorate in Social and Political Thought from York University. His research focuses on linking contemporary social, political and economic theory with the practice of co-operatives and the social economy. As Director of the Fundamentals of Co-operative Organizations program, he takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of co-operatives, from social, political, historical, and economic perspectives.

J.J. developed the program in collaboration with Brenda Gainer of the Schulich School of Business, and On Co-op, to fill gaps in both higher education and the co-operative business sector. The Schulich brand ensures a business school emphasis on management and finance. On Co-op gives students privileged access to co-op executives, and to experienced mentors. The program’s interactive nature allows students to establish network connections, build lasting relationships, and learn from their peers in a collaborative environment. 

Graduate Feedback

“The learning I did in this course BLEW MY MIND!”

“I was so used to being a cheerleader for co-ops that I never took the time to critically analyze them.”

“Before I took this course, I was tired of being on the board. I was planning to resign. But then I was inspired by the knowledge and commitment of my peers in this course. My own enthusiasm for co-ops was renewed, and I ran for re-election to my board!” 

 Noteworthy feedback on the benefits to participating co-ops:

“We were able to fix up our co-operative’s articles and bylaws”
“We have improved our budgeting and financial forecasting”
“We have enhanced our membership drives”
“We are more resilient as an organization”
“We are now more active in our regional sector”
“We handle our dispute resolution policy more confidently”

Co-operative expertise and career advancement:

“I became Executive Director of a non-profit organization"
“I was elected to the board of directors”
“I launched my own consulting practice”
“I was hired as a research associate” with a prestigious university
“I co-hosted a co-operative forum”
“I got better connected to the co-op movement”

 For more information, contact:

  • J.J. McMurtry, Ph.D.
    Associate Dean, Programs, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
    York University
    416-736-2100 ext. 33378
    [requires javascript]  

  • Brenda Gainer, Ph.D.
    Director, Social Sector Management Program
    Schulich School of Business
    York University
    416-736-2100 ext. 66416
    [requires javascript]


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Oct 11, 2018 + others - Directors of credit unions and caisses populaires are invited to join us for a unique learning, professional development and networking opportunity! New as well as young Directors are also highly encouraged to attend!

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