Strategic Electives

Developing the relevant skills that employers seek is an essential component of a student's education. GVSU students should consider strategic elective courses to pair with their program of study in order to gain additional skills. Please find some suggestions below, grouped by skill type.

Budgeting and Financial Skills

  • FIN 221 Personal Finance: Designed for the non-finance major who wants to improve the management of personal finances. Aspects of finance that individuals are likely to face will be discussed. Specific topics include credit buying and borrowing, insurance, home ownership, stock and bond investment, mutual funds, income taxes and estate planning.
  • PNH 375 Public Budgeting & Finance Admin: The content, tools, and techniques of budgeting from the perspectives of the manager, legislator, and citizen. A survey of revenue raising methods and administration. Applicable to public jurisdictions and nonprofit agencies of all sizes. Includes accounting principles essential to public management.

Communication Skills

  • CAP 423 Writing Corporate Communications (Prereq CAP 220):  An advanced writing course on the research, development, and preparation of corporate communications. Uses desktop publishing. Includes brochures, annual reports, employee newsletters, executive speeches, position papers, backgrounders, corporate memos, customer letters, and crisis communications.
  • COM 201 Speech: Introduction to the theory and practice of speech with an emphasis on the development of public speaking skills. The class emphasizes kinds of speeches, audiences, organization, delivery, and critical assessment of speech performances.
  • COM 203 Argument and Analysis (Prereq WRT 150): Being able, in speaking or writing, to present arguments for a position and to analyze the arguments of others are skills that are basic to almost any human activity. In this course, participants will practice the skills of argument and analysis in discussing the nature of argument itself.
  • COM 301 Interpersonal Communication: Introduces students to theory, research, and practical issues involved in interpersonal communication, including topics such as language, nonverbal expression, face-to-face interaction, self-identity, and communication ethics. Stresses how everyday talk with one another is a cornerstone of ethics and human civilization.
  • PNH 335 Grant Writing: Provides instruction in writing grants, evaluating grant proposals, and in researching and cultivating funding sources. Students will gain an understanding of the link between organizational mission and program development by preparing a full proposal to meet a real-life community need.
  • WRT 200 Intro to Professional Writing (Prereq WRT 150): This course serves as an introduction to professional writing, providing the skills necessary for writing, presenting, and interacting in professional contexts. This course introduces students to some of the most common genres in professional writing and emphasizes the importance of audience and context for composing effective professional documents.
  • WRT 350 Business Communications (Prereq WRT 150): Training in communication skills for business and the professions. Assignments cover varieties of information management, including handling research, gathering data, writing reports, manuals, directions, and correspondence, and making oral presentations.

Cross-Cultural Skills

  • ECO 369 International Economic Issues (Prereq ECO 200 or 210 and admitted to Seidman College of Business (SCB) or by permit): Selected topics in both international trade and international finance. Includes preferential trading arrangements such as NAFTA and the European Union, analysis of barriers to trade and arguments for and against protectionism, the influence of exchange rates on capital flows, and the relationship between international trade and economic growth.
  • ITC 100 Introduction to Intercultural Competence: This course introduces students to the concept of cultural competence, and provides them with the knowledge and application of skills necessary to succeed in diverse settings. This course examines theories of intercultural engagement and then requires students to consider how they might apply knowledge in diverse practical settings.
  • MGT 303 International Business and Culture (Prereq Junior standing and admitted to SCB or by permit): An introduction to the issues that a company will experience when doing business in a global economy. Emphasis is on the influence of culture on business practices. Topics will include economic structures, marketing approaches, accounting and financial issues, management and organization issues, and distribution issues.
  • MGT 466 International Management and Multinational Corporations (Prereg Senior standing and admitted to SCB or by permit): A study of the managerial challenges of conducting business in a global economy. Emphasis on cultural differences and their impact on the situations and issues managers confront when working internationally.

Leadership and Management Skills

  • MGT 331 Managing People and Organizations (Prereq admitted to SCB or by permit): Explore the management process through an examination of its functions of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling work and work performance in a business organization. Students learn about theoretical concepts and applications through the use of selected case materials.
  • MGT 333 Human Resource Management (Prereq MGT 331 and admitted to SCB or by permit): Focuses on the work of human resource departments in acquiring, training, developing, appraising, compensating, and managing employees. Strong focus on legal requirements of HR practices. Introduces the growing role of strategic human resource management.
  • MGT 345 Team Building (Prereq admitted to SCB or by permit): A class which integrates theory and application by teaching students how to be effective members of a work team. Emphasis on both logical and creative problem solving. Dynamics and processes within teams serve as the focus of analysis, learning, and practice.

Marketing and Advertising Skills

  • MKT 350 Marketing Management (Prereq admitted to SCB or by permit): An introduction to marketing. Provides a general understanding and appreciation of the forces operating, institutions employed, and methods followed in marketing products and services both domestically and internationally.
  • MKT 352 Marketing Research (Prereq MKT 350, STA 215 and admitted to SCB or by permit): Detailed examination of business research procedures and applications. Problem definition, research design, data collection, sampling techniques, costs, etc. Case problems and projects.
  • MKT 356 Professional Selling (Prereq MKT 350 and admitted to SCB or by permit): The principles of professional salesmanship and their practical application in the marketing mix. Actual sales presentations by students are included.
  • MKT 358 Advertising and Marketing Communications (Prereq admitted to SCB or by permit): A managerial analysis and examination of the nonpersonal demand generating element of the firm's marketing efforts. Includes study of communication theory; advertising; market, audience, and target segmentation and selection; media analysis; public relations; publicity; and most other nonpersonal communications activities. These elements are strongly related to personal selling in the private sector firm.

Research Skills

  • CAP 115 Research Basics for Advertising and Public Relations: This course presents the basic techniques for finding, collecting, evaluating, and using primary data and secondary information relevant to solving communication problems. Explores library resources, search engines, government and commercial websites, corporate documents, and databases. Includes citation formats and presentation methods.
  • PSY 300 Research Methods in Psychology (Prereq PSY 101, WRT 150 and STA 215 or 312): Examination of basic research methods in psychology. Emphasis on the logic of psychological research, the formulation and testing of hypotheses, research design, sampling procedures, and the ethics of conducting research.
  • INT 301 Interdisciplinary Research Methods: This course is a survey of selected interdisciplinary research methods. It includes comparative analysis of research methods used in natural and life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities, with a focus on integrative and problem-solving methodologies. Procedures for evaluating data, sources, and findings are reviewed.

Statistical Skills

  • ECO 300 Data Analytics Eco Bus (Prereq ECO 200, 210, or 211, and STA 215 and admitted to SCB or by permit): An introduction to empirical methods in economics and business. Uses spreadsheets and econometric software to manage data and apply visual and statistical analyses using economics and business data.
  • STA 216 Intermediate Applied Statistics (Prereq STA 215 or 312): Project-oriented introduction to major statistical techniques using a statistical package such as SAS or SPSS. Hypothesis testing, t-test, multivariate regression, analysis of variance, analysis of covariance, chi-square tests, and nonparametric statistics.
  • STA 318 Statistical Computing (Prereq STA 215:) A detailed study of the advanced features of major statistical packages used in statistical computing, such as SAS and SPSS. Emphasis on the data entry, data manipulation, data storage, data simulation, and graphical display features of these packages.

Systems Thinking Skills

  • INT 323 Design Thinking to Meet Real World Needs (Prereq: Junior standing): Design Thinking is an iterative, project-based, problem-solving process valued in organizations both locally and internationally. As interdisciplinary teams, students in this course will use the Design Thinking process to better facilitate the chaos of innovation by collaborating with stakeholders to meet real-world needs. Part of the Information, Innovation, or Technology Issue.
  • MGT 268 Business Processes and Management Information Systems: This course is designed to give the student an understanding of the importance of common business processes and their relationship with information systems in modern companies. Gaining insight into the integration that good information systems, specifically Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, foster in an organization.
  • MGT 351 Enterprise Information Systems (Prereq MGT 268 and admitted to SCB or by permit): This course provides a comprehensive understanding of Enterprise Information Systems (EIS) focusing on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and the key role they play in modern organizations. Students will gain an understanding of ERP systems from both a functional (business process) and implementation perspective using SAP R/3 software.

Technology Skills

  • ART 209 Graphic Design Basics: The course is designed for any non graphic design student who requires or seeks an overview of the graphic design process and its application in visual composition, symbol development, typography and layouts. Students produce solutions to visual communication problems and learn to articulate and present effectively their design choices.
  • CAP 105 Technology in Public Relations and Advertising: This course familiarizes students with the technologies currently used in the public relations and advertising professions. Emphasis is on working with technical specialists including graphic designers, photographers, videographers, and website developers. Students learn technology terminology and gain hands-on experience with a variety of technical software and equipment.
  • CIS 150 Introduction to Computing: Basic principles of computing, including study of the major components of a computer system. Introduction to software packages such as word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and languages.
  • CIS 231 (Prereq MTH 110 or MTH 115 or MTH 122 or MTH 201) Fundamental and advanced functionalities of Microsoft Excel. The course integrates practical problem-solving techniques and advanced analytical tools through hands-on case studies.
  • DS 202, Digital Data and Design: Students will gain a fundamental understanding of how digital data is collected, analyzed, and visualized/represented on various platforms. They will learn to locate and assess sources of data, and effectively and ethically represent those data, using relevant communication tools.
  • WRT 253 Document Production and Design (Prereq WRT 150): This course provides an introduction to electronic layout, design, and typographic principles, as well as the technical foundation and practical experience to produce documents for print production. Students will work from a foundation in rhetoric and basic graphic design principles to write, design, and produce a range of document types.

Skill-Building Certifications and Minors

  • Applied Data Analytics Certificate: This certificate focuses on understanding how to interpret, use, and apply data and statistics in the workplace. Students learn foundational computing and statistical skills like visualization, predictive analytics tools, and computer coding in Python and R.
  • Data Science Minor: This minor provides students with deeper knowledge of data analysis, through Statistics and Computer Science courses.
  • Digital Studies Minor: The widespread influence of digital media in almost every aspect of contemporary life requires new literacy skills for understanding and using digital technologies. Regardless of their specialized major program, students will work and evolve in environments that increasingly rely on digital tools and platforms to create and share information. To address this need, the Digital Studies Minor provides ways for students from all disciplines to explore the role of digital tools and to become productive and ethical digital citizens.
  • Environmental Remote Sensing Certificate: The program provides cutting-edge skills in remote sensing science, digital image processing, and big data visualization. Particular emphasis is placed on applications of remote sensing technology in environmental planning, sustainable development, climate change adaptation, urban resiliency planning, and natural resource management.
  • ERP Program: The ERP Program at Grand Valley State University is one of the world’s leading programs where students gain an understanding of integrated, cross-functional business process experience using enterprise software SAP® to execute business processes, and to develop proficiency in the use of enterprise systems. 
  • GIS & Technology Certificate: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to map, model, query, synthesize, and analyze big spatial data according to their location. GIS benefits organizations in almost every industry. There is growing interest in the economic, environmental, and strategic planning value of GIS.
  • Intercultural Communications Certificate: The intercultural communications certificate prepares graduates with skills in effective communication within and across diverse international organizations.
  • SAP Certification Academy: An overview of the most important modules in SAP® ERP, preparing participants to support business processes across the organization. In addition to the knowledge they gain, participants also demonstrate their interest in and aptitude for working with SAP® or other ERP systems, making them great candidates for entry-level employment.
  • Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning Certificate: This applied program offers practical tools and strategies to students interested in smart urban development, land-use planning, transportation, green architecture and design, and applications of geographic techniques in planning and urban development. 

Page last modified February 21, 2024