By Kim Kattouw
Academic credentials are more important then ever for aspiring professionals. But for many ambitious and accomplished individuals already in the workforce, the opportunity to pursue full-time graduate-level studies is out-of-reach for various reasons, including financial or familial obligations.
As a recognized leader in graduate education and research in industrial relations and human resource management for decades, Queen's University is launching a unique and innovative model of graduate education starting in September of 2010. The Professional Master's of Industrial Relations (PMIR) program - the first of its kind in Canada - is designed for experienced professionals who wish to gain new skills and knowledge for career advancement without having to give up successful full-time employment.
"The PMIR offers the same level of academic study and excellence as Queen's highly respected full-time program in Industrial Relations - the only difference is the unique delivery mechanism," explains Master's of Industrial Relations Program Coordinator Jennifer Dee. "When you talk to the individuals in the program, you find most have always aspired to academic study but have been unable to participate for a variety of reasons."
The PMIR offers a rich and rewarding learning experience with faculty who are leading scholars and prominent policy advisors. The students themselves are accomplished and ambitious individuals that are committed to making a significant difference in their workplace and more broadly benefit their organizations.
The program emphasizes human resources management, labour relations, labour law and organizational design and development and provides participants with advanced skills and knowledge to implement solutions to current and emerging workplace issues. New management skills help to translate commitment into action to meet workplace challenges.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the PMIR is the class schedule, which allows students to combine full-time professional responsibilities with part-time graduate studies to complete a Master's degree over a two-and-a-half year period. The program involves one weekend of classes per month (Friday and Saturday), as well as a two-week period of full-time instruction in May. This unique study model allows students to pursue recognized academic credentials while maintaining full-time employment.
Queen's University has taken a comprehensive approach to making this program as accessible as possible for the students it was designed for, including a class schedule that has minimal impact on regular workplace obligations and monthly tuition payments to reduce financial barriers.
As one of the first four candidates in the program's advance launch, which began in September 2009, Leanne Deodato is a perfect example of what the PMIR program offers a working professional committed to furthering their education and expertise, while maintaining full-time employment.
After graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science after high school, Leanne realized she was not interested in working in the field. She took a "fast-track" program at Fleming College in Retail Marketing Management and landed a management position at a large retail chain. Enjoying the human resources aspects of her management position, she pursued a post-graduate diploma in Business Administration - Human Resources from St. Lawrence College. Upon graduation, Leanne transitioned into a promising opportunity as a human resources officer at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston.
A self-declared "life-long learner", Leanne recognized that the work force is in constant change, therefore it was essential for her to continue developing new skills and learn about the latest trends in industrial relations and human resources to excel.
"The PMIR program allows me to immerse myself in labour relations and human resources management, both subjects I am passionate about," says Leanne. "The program provides the opportunity to enhance existing skills and gain advanced management techniques that can be directly applied to my current workplace. The new skills and knowledge gained also enhances my aspirations of future career advancement."
In addition to excellence in instruction and academic supports from some of the most highly respected leaders in the field, the program offers students a wide variety of opportunities to interact and network with industry leaders.
"The interdisciplinary nature of the PMIR program allows students to pursue their own individual goals and objectives to achieve career aspirations," says Jennifer. "Our alumni of the full-time Industrial Relations program are also very excited about this unique delivery mechanism and the network opportunities can greatly enhance a student's experience and future opportunities."
As a mature student with a successful career, this program allows individuals like Leanne the opportunity to balance full-time work, family life, and part-time studies, "Without the PMIR's delivery method, I would not be able to pursue this path in graduate studies and access to one of the most powerful alumni networks in the field."
For more information about the advantages of the Professional Master's in Industrial Relations program at Queen's, go to www.queensu.ca/sps/pmir/ .