Courses and Workshops

Speaker presenting on policymaking process

Getting involved can mean testing the waters of a particular career path by gaining the vocabulary and experiencing the simulated environment of the area. Workshops and courses are a relatively low time investment to help make an informed choice and to add to your resume. Did you know that many programs allow you to minor in entrepreneurship or communication to broaden your resume?

Professional Career Foundations

GRAD 9110, a one credit practicum facilitated by Susi Varvayanis, Executive Director of Careers Beyond Academia

Practical tips to focus a job search, develop strategies to identify a meaningful career and empower you to make an impact. Through discussions, immersive activities and professional networking, participants will hone communication of their strengths and fit to employers’ needs to set themselves apart as top candidates. Invest in seven sessions for great impact on your career planning.
Learning outcomes include:

    • Feel empowered to actively imagine and chart several professional paths beyond the university
    • Describe pros and cons of several career options and potential match
    • Have increased confidence to reach out to professionals, ask for advice, and build connections

Courses That Welcome Ph.D. Students

We assembled a shortlist of participant, alumni, and faculty recommended business, leadership, management, entrepreneurial, policy, and communication courses that specifically welcome Ph.D. students from all disciplines. Postdocs may contact the instructor. If you have other suggestions that have been helpful for your career development or that have helped you develop your entrepreneurial mindset, let us know and we can add them here. By looking at the instructors you can identify additional courses that may be of interest in a given semester. The course links are for information only; please search the course roster for current availability

  • AEM 6145 Business and Management Fundamentals (3 cr. R. Karpman) This is the new full-semester course developed from “Business as a Second Language” offered previously as BME 5960. Meets early in the morning so you can get back to your research! Basic business and management skills are necessary to advance your career no matter what discipline you plan to pursue. The purpose of this course is to provide the skills necessary to present a strong business case for any new biomedical or life science technology. Like any foreign language, “business-eeze” has its own vocabulary, grammar principles, and culture.
  • NBA 5640 Designing New Ventures (3cr. T. Schryver, K. Rother)–Johnson School and Grad Students Only– A comprehensive introduction to the key aspects of envisioning, starting, and running a new business. Team taught by two career entrepreneurs, the course focuses both on concepts and frameworks in entrepreneurship and on “doing” entrepreneurship. Students form teams, ideate new businesses, complete customer development, construct business models, and work towards creating minimum viable products. Topics covered include definition of the market, sales and distribution, competition, hiring and management of people, cash flow and financial management, making compelling pitches, and raising capital.
  • NBA 5070 Entrepreneurship for Scientists and Engineers (3cr. B. Treat, J. Nesheim)–Non-Johnson Students Only– Specifically designed for mentored independent study, this course is customized using streaming video, guest speakers, distance learning, and special lectures/tutorial sessions. Work is focused on a single project: students form a startup team and follow a technical business idea of their own choosing through the process of developing and founding a business that can attract venture investors. Learn how high-technology ideas are converted into world-class businesses in venture-backed startup companies as well as in new business development in existing companies. Tutorial sessions with professors apply lessons to the team business plan.
  • NBA 5380 The Business Idea Factory (1.5cr. B. Treat) Do you want to become an entrepreneur, but you don’t yet have that brilliant idea? This class will help you come up with new ideas and evaluate which ones are the most worth pursuing to ensure you invest your time and energies on ideas that have the most promise. The first section of the course is about places and processes that you can use to find inspiration to come up with a large number of potential business ideas. We then walk through a systematic process to evaluate, validate, and quantify the best ideas for each team.
  • CEE 5900 Project Management (4 cr. K. Rother, B. Treat, R. Newman) Core graduate course in project management for people who will manage technical or engineering projects. Focuses both on the “technical” tools of project management (e.g., methods for planning, scheduling, and control) and the “human” side (e.g., forming a project team, managing performance, resolving conflicts), with somewhat greater emphasis on the latter.
  • NBA 6910 Physical Product Entrepreneurship (1.5 cr. K. Rother) introduces students to the renaissance in physical product development created by the emergence of new desktop manufacturing technologies, small-scale electronics production, and internet-based market aggregation all combined with Lean Startup principals. Unlike an engineering course that focuses on the “nuts and bolts” of creating a physical product, this course will examine the creation of the product business itself rather than the actual device. This course is appropriate for the student exploring the creation of a hardware startup as well as students pursuing a career in product management at a physical product company.
  • Upstate NY I-CORP 3.5-week virtual course is for researchers working on a deep tech innovation to “get out of the lab” & talk with customers to ID best product-market fit. You may apply with a team of 1-3 people. 
  • NBA 5690 Management Consulting Essentials (1.5 cr. R. Allen) helps students learn about consulting and the skills and capabilities to be a successful consultant, beginning with a module on successful case interviews. The consulting process is discussed and why it leads to successful solutions for complex business problems. With the consulting process understood, the course then focuses on developing a problem definition diagnostic framework, hypotheses, analytical approaches, data collection, and conclusions.
  • NBA 5075 (LAW 6114) Big Red Ventures (3 cr. T. Bell, T. Schryver) Big Red Ventures is Cornell’s student-run venture fund where managers source new investment opportunities, conduct opportunity assessments and due diligence, make investment recommendations, assess and vote on recommendations of other fund managers, and make investments in early-stage, high-growth startup companies. Fund managers also manage existing portfolio investments, conduct annual portfolio valuations, and prepare investor materials such as an annual report and annual meeting.
  • NBA 5185 – Green Tech Innovation in Practice (3 cr. G. Ray) Dive into hands-on, innovation-driven startup creation. This workshop course leverages PhD participants’ research expertise and thesis subjects to shape innovative business model hypotheses. Collaborative, cross-disciplinary teams, inclusive of researchers, cultivate their ‘entrepreneurial judgment’ by strategically testing these hypotheses to mitigate business model risks. Seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, and faculty provide ongoing feedback to refine insights and set team priorities.
  • PLBRG4050 (IARD4050) Intellectual Property Management for Scientists, Engineers and Entrepreneurs (R. Cahoon) Interested in innovation and technology commercialization? Learn how to think strategically about inventions using real examples and hands-on case studies. Tu/Th 1:25pm for 10 wks starting in August ONLINE. Email Richard Cahoon for more info. Particularly relevant to students interested in technology-based business development, and business-centered technology/intellectual property (IP) management, technology transfer and commercialization, entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, and international agriculture. Students will engage in real technology development projects with collaborators in research institutions in multiple countries in partnership with WIPO.
  • ILRHR 7451 Leadership Assessment for Managers (1.5 cr. P. Stepp) Assess your leadership and management skills through feedback on your strengths and developmental needs. With a focus on self-awareness, several experiential exercises and self-assessment instruments include: Leadership 360 Assessment, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), and the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior (FIRO-B). Get trained in giving and receiving feedback from team members and participate in various leadership and team challenges. Professional feedback providers observe students in group work on leadership cases and exercises and provide feedback on their observations and the results of individual instruments. The course ends with a focus on goal setting for future leadership development.
  • iBiology offers several free, online self-paced courses designed for life scientists; a popular one is Business Concepts for Life Scientists (est. 3h/w for 5 weeks)
  • NBA 5150 Leadership Theory and Practice (3 cr. M. Hostetler) focuses on the challenges of effective leadership in a complex world, with 4 parts: 1. Explore historical and contemporary theories and models of leadership through required text and selected articles; 2. Examine and apply the Johnson School’s Leadership Model; 3. Analyze the practical challenges of leadership through case studies and executive speakers; 4. Develop self-awareness of the student’s leadership strengths and weaknesses through the use of behavioral instruments and group exercises, and create a personal action plan for improvement. A critical element is the coaching and feedback students receive on their own leadership styles and behaviors from their peers and instructor.
  • Engineering Leadership Clinics and Digital Badges (0.5 cr. each E. Dawson) on Inclusive Teams, Difficult Conversations, Receiving Feedback, Effective Followership, and Leading from Strengths. Priority given to College of Engineering and College of Information Science students, but other fields are welcome by instructor permission.
  • CHEME 6930 – Peer Mentoring and Leadership Essentials (crosslisted) ENGRG 7930, MSE 7930 (1cr. E.Dawson)
  • VTMED 6749 (1 cr. J. Colon) Agile Innovation in Animal Health Hackathon Enrollment limited to Veterinary students (but participation in any Hackathon is open to all)
  • ORIE 3120 Practical Tools for Operations Research, Machine Learning and Data Science (4cr. P. Frazier) Software tools include structured query language (SQL), geographical information systems (GIS), Excel and Visual Basic programming (VBA), and programming in a scripting language (either R or Python). Operations research methods include inventory management, discrete event simulation, and an introduction to the analysis of queuing systems. Machine learning and statistical methods include multiple linear regression, classification, logistic regression, clustering, time-series forecasting, and the design and analysis of A/B tests. These topics will be presented in the context of business applications from transportation, manufacturing, retail, and e-commerce.
  • ALS 5100 (LEAD 5100) is not currently offered.
  • BME 4440 Science Policy Boot Camp: Concept to Conclusion (3 cr. C. Schaffer) An interdisciplinary service-learning course to explore the trends that shape science and innovation policy, understand core science policy concepts, and engage in active policymaking work. Three-hour long sessions every week begin with broadening students’ perspective on science policy, then working in groups on a science policy advocacy project that builds over the full semester. Working in small groups, students identify a key science policy issue, thoroughly research the issue and contact key stakeholders, formulate a detailed plan to address the issue, and, unique to this course–implement their plan for solving the problem toward the end of the semester. Examples may include drafting legislation, commenting on federal or state rulemaking procedures, launching public outreach campaigns, or raising press awareness of an issue. This aspect of the course will include both mentored work in developing the idea and advocacy plan, as well as activities to build the skills necessary to be an effective policy advocate. Examples of such activities include mock press interviews and lobbying visits. As a result of the final project, students will have the unique opportunity to address a bona fide policy issue and create a working solution.
  • COMM 5660 Science Communication Workshop (1 cr. B. Lewenstein) A weekend workshop offered fall and spring that trains researchers in the sciences (including natural sciences, engineering, experimental social sciences, etc.) to communicate effectively with non-scientists such as policymakers, political stakeholders, the media, and the general public. Training activities may include role-play, reading/discussion, writing press releases and other outreach materials, and discussion with invited speakers.
  • FDSC 4940 (LAW 6237) Federal Regulation of Food and Agriculture (3 cr. G. Jaffe) Genetic engineering, gene editing, cloning, cell-cultured meat, production of novel proteins in microorganisms and plants, conventional products — they’re all regulated by federal agencies. This course — offered only in fall 2019 — explores federal regulatory oversight from research and product development to consumer purchases. The course covers laws implemented by FDA, USDA, and EPA. By the end of the course, students will understand how federal oversight may play a role in their future careers and how to prepare for those interactions. They will understand the role of science in regulation and policy and how to actively engage as regulations are developed.
  • BIOMS 5665 Community Based Research Presentations and Discussions (1 cr. R. Weiss) This seminar series provides a forum for interactions between cancer research students and cancer patients and their care givers. Through this course, students meet and interact with cancer patients and develop skills in communicating science to the public.
  • ENGRG 3360 Developing STEM Storytelling Skills with WSKG Public Media and PBS NewsHour (3 cr. J. Nucci) If you can’t communicate your engineering ideas, then their potential can’t be realized. This course tackles the challenge of 21st century science and engineering communication by providing instruction and practice creating innovative presentations and videos, which may ultimately become part of PBS Learning Media, a nationally distributed educational resource.
  • NTRES 4300 Environmental Policy Processes II (3 cr. B. Lauber-C. Kraft) provides students an intensive field-based exploration of the federal environmental policy process and an overview of how policy issues move onto the federal agenda and through the federal policy-making process. It focuses on defining environmental policy problems and understanding the interrelated set of phases, actors, institutions, and constraints that typically comprise the policy cycle. Case studies provide in-depth examples and allow students to discuss the policy process with policymakers as guest panelists. Research topic requires conducting several independent interviews with Washington experts, preparation of one short and one long policy brief based on the interviews and additional research, and an oral presentation. Note: spring travel to D.C. and an additional course fee of $800 required. Applications are due in mid-October.
  • PHYS 7679 Finding Your Scientific Voice (3 cr. I. Cohen) This course workshops your 10 minute scientific presentations in a safe and playful environment. You will develop performance practices that enable you to tell a credible and entertaining story in a confident manner. Don’t miss this opportunity to hone your research presentation skills from top to bottom.
  • HADM 3610 Communication for Entrepreneurs (3 cr. A. Quagliata) Communication skills are essential for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs face unique communication challenges when communicating with initial investors, business partners, founding employees, first customers, and the media. Students apply course concepts to their own ideas while developing communication competencies in a variety of entrepreneurial communication contexts.
  • NBA 5680 Management Presentations (1.5 cr. T. Karamanis, B. Mink, A. Noble-Grange) Priority given to MBA students; open to other graduate students if room. Practice your speeches (one a week), receive feedback from classmates and the instructor, and review in tutorials the videotapes of most of the presentations.
  • ENGRC 3120 Communications for Practical Tools for Operations Research, Machine Learning and Data Science (1cr. A. Hutchinson) for ORIE undergrads, but PhD students have TA’d it.
  • Comm 6660, Public Engagement in Science (3 cr. B. Lewenstein, offered even years in spring)  Explores the scholarly literature addressing the links between “public engagement” and earlier concerns about sciences literacy, public understanding of science, and outreach; and the intersections between literature in communication and in science studies on issues involving the relationships among science(s) and public(s).\\
  • Comm 6760, Public Health Communication (3 cr. J. Niederdeppe, offered even yeas in spring) An overview of theory and research on public communication related to health behavior and policy change.
  • Comm 6860, Risk Communication (3 cr. K. McComas) An examination of theory and research related to communication of scientific information about environmental, agricultural, food, health, and nutritional risks.


Careers Beyond Academia holds regular workshops to help you hone skills needed for your professional future. Explore our calendar of events to see which ones match your availability and interests. We routinely advertise activities from on and off campus and sometimes offer to reimburse for your travel to nearby workshops or participate in industry-specific events. Feel free to contact us to discuss your specific needs. The Careers Beyond Academia listserv communication includes many more opportunities. Please email if you would like to join the listserv.

The Graduate School calendar of events includes additional workshops on balance and resilience, writing support, diversity and inclusion, teaching and mentoring, and other topics to support your overall success.

Field-specific professional development courses of interest

AEM 7852 – Sustainable Environment, Energy and Resource Economics Research Seminar
BIONB 7212 – Professional Development for Biology Graduate Students
BIOMG 7810 – Critical Thinking in Genetics and Development
CEE 5025 – Civil and Environmental Engineering Seminar for First-Year Research Students
ECE 7930 – Succeeding in the Graduate Environment
ENTOM 7100 – Mastering the Craft of Scientific Writing
GDEV 7970 – Development Studies Professional Development Seminar
ILRHR 9600 – Workshop in Human Resource Studies
SYSEN 8100 – Systems Seminar Series – PhD
VETMI 7030 – Biomedical Sciences: Foundations of the PhD