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Graduate Certificate in Small Business Management

Graduation requirements

To graduate students must satisfactorily complete 32 points (four subjects).

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

What is this course about?

CSU's Graduate Certificate in Small Business Management is an industry-focused, flexible and dynamic alternative in postgraduate studies. The course is specifically designed for new and established small business owners and managers who wish to enhance their management knowledge with the latest thinking in small business management.

The small business sector accounts for 96% of total businesses in Australia, but more than half of small businesses fail within three years of start-up. Why?

Research indicates that one of the primary reasons for small business failure is the lack of management expertise.

CSU's Graduate Certificate in Small Business Management has a strong emphasis on personal development and industry best practice. The course offers students access to industry peers, market leaders and other leading resources. Students are able to build a personalised learning structure via the flexible, online learning platform.

The course provides industry-focused, flexible studies for small business operators. The course requires completion of three core subjects in marketing, human resources and strategy, and one elective subject which enables students to tailor the course to their needs. A key component of study is the linkage of theory with current issues in small business and the student's own small business setting.

The course offers students a unique opportunity to network with industry peers and to develop alliances. The industry-aligned structure of the course enables students to learn and share processes with others. Students will be assigned to business-cycle clusters (e.g. start-up or growth) within their industry sector which provides networking opportunities and direct application of knowledge. The use of action learning processes means students can benchmark their current business processes and develop practical insights to create the desired future state of their business.

Workplace learning

A key feature of the Graduate Certificate in Small Business is its applied nature. Students wil be required to link theory with their own professional experience as they study in each subject. Assessments are directed towards students undertaking projects and assessment tasks they can utilise in their small business.

Flexible learning

"Informal learning by itself runs the risk of restricting people to old ways of thinking and working." (Figgers et al, 2001)

At CSU, we understand that many small business owners / managers value ongoing education. We also understand that many small business managers learn informally and often on an "as needs" basis. This course is designed to complement previous informal training by challenging existing knowledge, thereby providing opportunities for business innovation.

"In terms of learning, the 'e' term has less to do with electronics and much more to do with the other 'e's: the engagement of the learner, the enhancement of the learning, the experience of exploration, the ease of use, the empowerment of the learner to control the learning schedule, and the execution of the learning program." (Roffe, 2002)

Subjects are available for Single Subject Study. Single Subject Study gives you a flexible study option with the option of building your own qualification.

The course offers students a flexible mode of learning. Online study enables students to work with colleagues from different industry sectors and within different business cycles. All of the subjects are offered online, allowing you to complete the course without having to come on campus. This means minimal disruption to your business.

Another advantage of online study is that it offers a rich learning environment. Use of case studies, online lectures and discussion forums means that your learning is accelerated in a structured way. You will have access to an extensive online library of text and video-based resources at your fingertips. The course effectively gives students a portal of material directly relevant to small business. This gives you independence to study in a way that suits you.

As with all CSU's courses, the Graduate Certificate in Small Business Management is designed and delivered with study flexibility in mind. You can choose from full-time and part-time study options to fit in with work and lifestyle commitments. You can do one or two subjects per session part-time, or you can fast-track degree completion by completing the course in one year full-time.The course is offered across a three-session academic year, with sessions commencing each February, July and November.

Career opportunities

Career opportunities

Increase business performance

The characteristics of the small business sector in Australia are diverse. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated that at least 96% of all Australian non-agricultural private businesses are small businesses, in that they have fewer than 20 employees. Data from the National Centre for Vocational Education (NCVER) indicate the majority of small business owners / managers have undertaken some form of tertiary ducation. However, the NCVER report also notes that the lack of management expertise is the most important factor in the failure of small businesses.

Whatever business you are in and whatever business cycle you are currently at (start-up, crisis/survival, growth) you need to have knowledge and skills in small business management. This course provides opportunities to leverage your existing knowledge to enhance the performance of your business.

The course also offers business practitioners who service the small business sector with a unique insight into how they operate. This knowledge can provide a competitive advantage for small business service providers, which could improve their business performance.


Course structure

The course will comprise four subjects:

MKT519  Marketing for Small Business
HRM539  Managing People in Small Business
MGT529  Small Business Strategic Plan

Plus one subject from the following*:

MGT501 Management Theory and Practice
MKT510 Customer Behaviour
MGT540 Management of Change
MGT580 Forecasting and Risk Assessment
ACC501 Business Accounting and Finance
LAW504 Business and Corporations Law

*   Please note that while prior knowledge is advantageous, it is not essential.  Please contact the Course Manager should you have any questions or concerns about your prior knowledge.

It is recommended that students complete MGT529 Small Business Strategic Plan as their final subject.

Enrolment pattern

There is no prescribed subject enrolment pattern because of the flexibility of the course requirements. However it is recommended that students complete MGT529 Small Business Strategic Plan as their fourth and final subject.

Students can select to complete one or two subjects per session depending on their personal preference or subject availability.

At a glance

Study Mode

Distance education




Session 1; Session 2; Session 3




The minimum duration for the course is two sessions by distance education.



Indicative ATAR


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