BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Continuing Education Resources for Graduate Students

Author: April Fievoli

Despite the difficulties and challenges that came with the onset of the pandemic, it did give us all the opportunity to pursue a wide variety of avenues to expand our knowledge and skill sets, particularly in ways that we had not explored previously! 

As graduate students, engaging in continuing education outside of the laboratory and clinical environments allow us to advance within our desired careers, seek new opportunities, and gain valuable skills through professional development. With the increasing reliance on virtual or remote resources, McMaster University, among other institutions, provides programs that we can use to our advantage (and boost our CVs!). 
Here are just a few to get you started: 

1. Harvard Online Courses: In the beginning weeks of my graduate studies, I was faced with the daunting reality that I know I share with a lot of you: learning how to CODE! One of the first resources that came up in my google search was the Harvard Data Science: R Basics course. Given that it is online, self-paced and requires only 1-2 hours a week, it is a quick and easy way to give you some foundational skills to get you started. A bonus: it is free! In addition to the R Basics course, there are over a hundred other courses you can take, including Introduction to Computer Science, Python, Machine Learning, and many more. 

2. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching: A natural plan for a lot of graduate students is to venture into academia, where teaching skills are certainly an asset. Fortunately, the MacPherson Institute provides an opportunity to enhance your instructional skills and pedagogical approaches to facilitate better student learning in the future. As of Fall 2022, the MacPherson Institute launched a Teaching and Learning Certificates of Completion program for future educators at McMaster. These certificates include (1) Theory and Inquiry and (2) Practice and Application. 

3. Mitacs Accelerate Program:The Mitacs Accelerate Program offers short and long-term funding opportunities for graduate students (eligible for both master’s and PhD candidates), as well as postdoctoral fellows. The program includes project opportunities that encompass multi-year, multi-institutional, and multi-disciplinary engagements that allow students to gain career-relevant skills and a competitive advantage. In addition, the program also provides professional development training with real-world applications. 

4. MyGradSkills provides 18 courses that can be taken remotely to provide students with the ability to develop relevant skills, whether they choose to pursue a career in academia or the private sector. MyGradSkills courses are comprised of web modules that allow users the ability to complete them whenever it is convenient. Some of these modules included Academic and Professional Communication for New Researchers, Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creations, Lesson Planning, Intellectual Property, and many more. And yes – it is also free! 
5. McMaster University Center for Continuing Education: The McMaster University Center for Continuing Education provides a variety of online courses to encourage personal growth and gain career-relevant skills. These courses are open enrolment for McMaster students and do not require any form of application. In addition, they also provide flexible, part-time coursework to complete at your own pace. Some courses that may be of interest to you include Academic Writing, The Science of Designing Powerful Presentations, Applied Clinical Research, The Science of Cannabis, and more! 
If any of these resources seem interesting to you, I encourage you to check them out!