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Complex projects are not managed, they are led.

Complex projects, such as the construction of railways, highways and ships a well as large procurements in areas of national defence, civilian infrastructure and safety, are critical to the well-being and quality of life of Citizens.

However, a significant portion of such projects go over budget or are not delivered at all.  Project complexity, poor execution, and lack of organizational capabilities are often the contributing factors to these project failures.

The Telfer School of Management offers three options for University credit to those interested in honing thier complex project leadership (CPL) skills. 

These options can be completed individually or can be completed in sequence to minimize the courseload in the diploma and/or the EMBA-CPL Concentration.

Complex Project leadership

In partnership with Telfer Executive Programs, participants of the Certificate in Complex Project & Procurement Leadership (CPPL) can obtain six (6) university credit for four (4) of the eight (8) program modules.

Participants will need to complete the full CPPL certificate and comprehensive assessments in order to receive credit.


Classification: Microprogramme

Number of Credits: Six (6) credits

Next Start Date:     Fall 2021

Program Length:   Nine months to three years

Cost: $2,880 for university credit, plus the cost of the CPPL certificate.

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Gradute Diploma in Complex
Project Leadership

The Graduate Diploma in Complex Project Leadership provides the opportunity for practicing managers to hone their skills in Complex Project Leadership in as little as 10 months.

Candidates in the Diploma will take a maximum of ten (10) courses, participating in courses with those in the Executive MBA-CPL concentration.

Two courses include travel within North America and overseas. 

Classification: Graduate Diploma

Number of Credits: 15 credits

Next Start Date:     August 2021

Program Length:   10 months 

Cost: $20,000 + part-time graduate student Ancillary fees.

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Executive MBA-Complex Project
Leadership Concentration

The Executive MBA's concentration in Complex Project Leadership design provides candidates with the business knowledge of an MBA degree while specializing their skills in Complex Project Leadership.

Candidates will enrol in the Executive MBA program, participating in 19 courses of  core content and specializing through 10 courses  focusing specifically on competencies in Complex Project Leadership.

Classification: MBA degree

Number of Credits: 54 credits

Next Start Date:     August 2021

Program Length:   21 months

Cost: $75,000 inclusive.

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Complex Project Leadership Microprogramme

What are the university credits that will I earn?

  • Systems Thinking & Complex Project Management (1.5 credits)
  • Advanced Negotiations & Problem Solving (1.5 credits)
  • Project Initiation  (1.5 credits)
  • Principles and Practices of Cost Estimating for Project Leaders(1.5 credits)

What are the requirements of the CPPL certificate with credit?

  • You will be enrolled in seven (7) separate in-class* modules, plus a capstone module. Each module is equivalent to two (2) or three (3) days in length of in-class* learning and will be supplemented with readings, and exercises.
  • Following the completion of four modules (Systems Thinking, Advanced Negotiations, Project Initiation and Cost Estimation), you will be required to complete a comprehensive assessment following each for-credit course, demonstrating your understanding of the subject material.
  • Participants will be able to complete the Certificate over a one-year timeframe.

What are the entry requirements?

  • Minimum of two years work experience in complex projects or procurement.

What will I receive upon successful completion of the program?

Upon successful completion of the modules and four assessments, you will be awarded

  • Telfer Executive Programs Certificate in Complex Project and Procurement Leadership
  • Earn six (6) university credits from the University of Ottawa
    • For candidates who choose to continue their studies, credits will be recognized for enrollment in the graduate diploma in CPL and three (3) credits are transferrable to the Executive MBA-CPL Concentration option. 
  • Your transcript will list the completion of the CPPL Microprogramme

What is the cost of the Complex Project Leadership Micro-programme? 

 $2,880 for university credits ($480 per credit), plus the cost of the CPPL certificate (consult the CPPL website for costs)

Graduate Diploma in Complex Project Leadership

Who can benefit from this diploma?

This diploma is for practicing managers who are responsible for large, complex projects and who are looking to develop leadership and project management skills specifically related to Complex Project Leadership, including: 

  • Portfolio, Program, and Project Manager
  • Key Advisor (public and private industry), key team members
  • Senior Systems Engineer
  • Procurement and Commercial Manager
  • Business Development and Capture Manager
  • Military Project Directors
  • Holders of an MBA or other graduate degree, looking to hone their skills in complex projects

What is the delivery format for this diploma?

  • Class offerings occur between August and May annually.
  • Class sessions occur weekly on Fridays and/or Saturays, with each course running for a six-week period.
  • Travel for course work is required for one week in the end of April and one week in Mid-May.

What are the university courses will I take?

Managers of complex programs deal with “wicked problems” whose resolution requires holistic approaches, sophisticated thinking and pluralist methodologies. This unit provides foundational knowledge related to systems methodologies and their underpinning epistemologies that enable project managers to solve complex program problems in context. Models and tools are introduced for students to differentiate between reductionist and holistic approaches to problem solving; achieve creative organizational learning and navigate non-linearity from chaos through to equilibrium across orders of complexity.

Project teams are key to project, program and portfolio success. This course will examine intra and inter-team interdependencies, processes, emergent states, and how these relate to team and systems of teams’ effectiveness. Design plans will be introduced to monitor the adaptive capacity of teams and systems over time. Interpersonal and practitioner skills will be honed to manage collaboration at individual, team and multi-team levels.

Acquisition strategies examines how various procurement methodologies, financing strategies, and ownership mechanisms best deliver value for money, deal with the risks and opportunities across the complete life-cycle and how this links to the acquisition business case. The unit also captures the need to deal with industry development objectives, the importance of robust cost estimation, and risk sharing strategies within a suitable governance framework.

Complex program leaders learn to balance and act upon the risks that threaten success while exploiting opportunities emerging from uncertainty. An infamous but perennial feature of many complex programs is unwarranted optimism that underestimates cost and schedule challenges while overestimating benefits. This course goes beyond classic reductionist risk mitigation by applying systemic thinking and advanced risk analytics with a focus on realizing value and by considering the incentives, penalties and opportunities associated with risk transfer and insurance. Exposure to generally accepted risk management practices including international risk management standards and frameworks will be provided.

This course focuses on planning for new projects or for substantial changes to existing projects using a business case approach. The material will address gap analysis, definition of expected outcomes benefits realization, and creation of cost/benefit models to support the proposed project. In addition, the use of management control systems as well as formative and summative evaluation models will be introduced. The participant is enabled to clearly articulate a business case in support of enhanced decision making and approval processes.

Innovation is a key to economic development, competitive advantage and organizational performance. Course participants will gain familiarity with concepts and tools to foster innovation and identify opposing barriers to overcome. Successful implementation requires interaction between many different areas of expertise within organisations, and increasingly across organizational boundaries. Students will be able to determine the characteristics of innovative environments and the corresponding methods, techniques and concepts. *Requires One Week of International Travel

Exploration of differences between project, program and portfolio management. Implementation science and practice applied to complex projects, programs and portfolios.

Financial planning and decision-making competencies are examined to include analysis of the financial position of contractors or alliance partners, advanced cost estimation techniques, life-cycle costing, investment appraisal, and application of value for money criteria. Tools for project financing to raise and maintain the flow of project capital, budget and cash flow management over the project life and selection of mechanisms to protect against foreign exchange rate or inflation fluctuations, are presented. Participants analyze reallocation and contingency related to program financial performance, foreign exchange and inflation; as well as differentiate between the value of money and value for money.

Project or program leadership in chaotic and complex environments raises a whole set of new and different challenges. This course examines complex projects and programs from the point of view of creative problem solving processes, opportunity identification and implementation, and entrepreneurial thinking at the individual, team, and larger system levels. The course focuses ultimately on the shift in leader mindset from challenges representing problems to problems representing opportunities. Students will learn to map the system of complex project/program environments and strategize to meet the interests of the associated stakeholders; and use Socio-Technical System (STS) tools and techniques to identify technical and social opportunities for system improvements and increased program success.

In recognition of the international nature of most complex projects, attention is given to managing across borders and cultures with multiple stakeholders. This course offers a rich learning opportunity to analyse a broad range of international projects and programs at various stages of their life cycles, through on-site visits, as well as to leverage the experience and glean best practices from world class project leaders and managers. *Requires One Week of International Travel.

What are the minimum requirements to apply?

  • An undergraduate degree, holding a minimum of a 70% average. In lieu of a post-secondary degree, a request for acceptance based on substantive managerial or professional training and experience can be made.
  • Minimum of five years of relevant work experience in complex projects or procurement.
  • Proficiency in English

What is the name of the diploma that I will be awarded upon completion?

Upon successful completion of the academic courses, you will be awarded a Graduate Diploma in Complex Project Leadership 

What are the class dates for the upcomin cohort:

Legend: Orientation and 8:00 a.m. class days Legend: 8:00 -12:45 and 4:15-6:30 class times   Legend: 1:45-6:30 p.m. class day and international travel Legend: exam week and break week

August 2021 Calendar      September 2021     October 2021     November 2021     December2021     January 2022 Calendar View     February 2022 Calendar View     March 2022 Calendar View     April 2022 Calendar     May 2022 Calendar View

What are the tuition fees:

 $20,000, plus University of Ottawa Ancillary Fees for a Part-Time Graduate student.

This includes the costs textbooks and materials for the academic sessions, and travel expenses relating to economy airfare and hotel accommodations based on double occupancy.

How do I register for the Graduate Diploma in Complex Project Leadership? 

Registration is not open at this time. 

Notify Me When Registration Opens     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Executive MBA - Complex Project Leadership Concentration

Who can benefit from the Complex Project Leadership Concentration (CPL concentration) in the Telfer Executive MBA Program?

This specialization is for practicing managers who are responsible for large, complex projects and who are looking for the general knowledge of an MBA degree while developing professional and business competencies related to Complex Project Leadership. This can include such roles as: 

  • Portfolio, Program, and Project Manager
  • Key Advisor (public and private industry), key team members
  • Senior Systems Engineer
  • Procurement and Commercial Manager
  • Business Development and Capture Manager
  • Military Project Directors

What are the minimum requirements to apply?

  • Minimum of five (5) years of work experience
  • Minimum of two (2) years of experience in a project or procurment environment
  • Post-secondary degree, holding a minimum of 70% average. 
    • In lieu of a post-secondary degree, a request for acceptance bacsed on substantive managerial or professional training and experience can be made.
  • Proficiency in English 

What is the application process?

The application process for the Concentration follows the Telfer Executive MBA application process.

What is the delivery format for the program?

  • Classes are held weekly, alternating between Friday and Saturday from September to April each year.
  • May-August between your first and second year will be dedicated to your consulting project.
  • Travel is requried, as part of the curriculum, for one week in May in the middle of the program and one week in April at the end of the program.
  • All mandatory dates are provided in advance to assist with your own planning. Optional tutorials and information briefings will be provided ahead of each semester. 

What is the difference between the Executive MBA and the Executive MBA with Complex Project Leadership Concentration?

Course Load:

Within the concentration, you will take 39 credits of core courses along with other Executive MBA candidates. Opportunties exist to contextualize studies within core courses to Complex Project environments, through case studies, assignments and reflection papers, as appropriate.

Major Consulting Projects:

You will undertake four major consulting projects during the program. 

Strategic Marketing Business Consulting Project:

As a part of the Strategic Marketing Management course, your team will work with a not-for-profit organization within Ottawa with the goal of contributing to the community while understanding the marketing challenges faced by charitable organizations.

Managing for Innovation

You will travel to a North American location to complete a team-based assignment on behalf of a major organization. Through this project you will also attend private executive briefings with senior leaders and see how technology and innovation are driving complex projects.

Summer Business Consulting Project

This project will be your number one priority while classes are out for the summer. You will have the opportunity to select from a list of complex project opportunities and work with your client over the summer months, to provide recommendations based on the scope of the project. This is your opportunity to integrate the theories and concepts you have learned in the first year. 

International Study Tour

Recognizing the international nature of most complex projects, you will travel internationally for this project. Through live case studies at leading organizations, you will analyze, compare and contrast approaches regarding the management of complex projects and share lessons learned with experienced colleagues. 

Team Learning:

The Telfer Executive MBA is a team-based learning approach, where you will be placed in a team for the duration of the 21 month program. By participating in the Complex Project Leadership Concentration, you will be assigned to a team consisting of other candidates enrolled in teh concentration. This will provide you with further opportunities to customize your learning within core courses, allowing you to focus your perspectives through the lenses of complex project leadership.

What are the unversity courses that will I take while in the Program?

Complex Project Leadership curriculum  

What are the class dates for the upcoming cohort?

The Telfer Executive MBA schedules classes and trips well in advance in order to accommodate your work, school and personal commitments. Tutorials and networking events are scheduled for evenings and weekends allowing you to work during the day.


Orientation Legend Legend: Class Days Legend: Break Week Legend: Mandatory Sessions Legend: Preparation Session Legend: Exam Week Legend: International Travel

August 2021 Calendar View     September 2021 Calendar View     October 2021 Calendar View     November 2021 Calendar View     December 2021 Calendar View       January 2022 Calendar View       February 2022 Calendar view       March 2022 Calendar View      April 2022 Calendar View       May 2022 Calendar View       June 2022 Calendar View       July 2022 Calendar View       August 2022 Calendar View       September 2022 Calendar View       October 2022 Calendar View       November 2022 Calendar View       December 2020 Calendar View       January 2023 Calendar View       February 2023 Calendar View       March 2023 Calendar View       April 2023 Calendar View     May 2023 Calendar View     June 2023 Calendar View

*International travel dates are subject to change. Any changes will be communicated well in advance.

What are the tuition fees for the Telfer Executive MBA - Complex Project Leadership Concentration?

Tuition fees for the Complex Project Leadership Program follows the same fee structure as the Executive MBA program . 

How do I learn more about the Telfer Executive MBA and Complex Project Leadership Concentration? 

Register for an Information Session     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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