Home > Support for success > Professional skills development

Professional skills development 

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies actively supports students in the development of professional skills, complementary to their research training.

Free, credit courses for doctoral students

The free training courses offered by FESP allow you to develop your skills and employability. These one-credit courses explore different aspects of job market integration in an atmosphere conducive to discussion and personal and professional networking. 

Facilitate your professional integration by identifying, developing, and enhancing your skills.

  • Multiple benefits at your fingertips:
  • Join a learning community with many shared experiences.
  • Participate in stimulating interactive courses with an emphasis on active learning.
  • Take advantage of a concise and self-paced format combining distance and blended learning.
  • Student participation in English is possible (online forum, exercises, assessment).

Nanoprogramme (In French only)

Foster your integration into dynamic, interconnected, interdisciplinary and multicultural work environments by acquiring key skills of adaptability, management, collaboration and communication.

Monitoring the career paths of Canadian PhD Holders

This Website is intended to showcase the strengths of doctoral training and the strategic role that PhDs can play in meeting the challenges of the new millennium.

Additional information

What are the skills to be developed at the graduate level?

List of skills to be developed

Course-based master’s degree

Research master’s degree


These skills are an integral part of the Reference Guide on Skills to Be Developed at the Master’s and Doctoral Levels developed by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and adopted by the University Council on November 3, 2015.

The guide is designed to help students assess and attain their own objectives by providing information on the skills they can expect to acquire through their training and those they can improve or develop through the additional training offered by FESP and other UL services.

You can use the guide in conjunction with your collaboration or study plan as a basis for discussion with your advisor or supervisor in planning your program.

Insofar as it makes transferable skills more concrete, it makes a good addition to a scholarship application, a letter of recommendation, an evaluation report, a curriculum vitae, etc.

Why have special training for doctoral students?

In recent years, many stakeholders, including Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (2008), Conseil Supérieur de l’Éducation (2010), and the Conference Board of Canada (2015), have expressed concerns and issued recommendations regarding doctoral education and the professional integration of PhD students. In response to these concerns, and to the needs expressed by many students in the 2016 Canadian Graduate and Professional Student Survey, in which 88% of doctoral students at Université Laval expressed strong support (63%) for FESP’s proposal to offer complementary training to facilitate their integration into the labour market, FESP designed a professional development training program for graduate students. These courses are designed to actively engage students in a process of ongoing personal and professional development to enrich or develop complementary skills, thereby enhancing their employability.

There is a clear consensus in Quebec and across Canada on the need to better prepare doctoral students for the workplace. Not only are more and more students earning PhDs, they are also less likely to find employment in academia. Which is why it is more important than ever for doctoral students to broaden their horizons and envisage different post-graduation career scenarios.

What teaching approach do the courses take and what is the workload?

Each professional skills development course offered by FESP is worth 1 credit and appears on your transcript. The transcript will serve as proof that you have acquired the skills required in a professional sector.

Most of the course activities are designed as training sessions to help you develop good reflexes and quickly pick up strategies that can help you achieve your professional goals.  Through various means—simulations, case studies, role-playing, practical exercises, observation games, roundtable discussions, online forums—you will learn to use tools that enhance your employability and improve your ability to market your unique expertise.

Each course represents a total investment of about 45 hours, including independent study. Coursework consists primarily of active participation through discussion, sharing, and group work that foster connections and the development of your personal and professional networks. 

Evaluation is largely based on participation, and the grade is pass or fail.

Your transcript will show that you have acquired the skills required in a professional sector.

These courses do not apply toward your program’s degree requirements.

Courses offered in distance or blended mode

How much do these professional skills development courses cost?

These courses are free for all students (including international students) enrolled in a doctoral program at Université Laval. 

Students enrolled in these courses are not be required to pay tuition, administration fees, ancillary fees, academic modernization fees, or technology fees. Student association fees as well as health and dental insurance are at the student’s expense. Students who wish to opt out of the insurance plan must submit an opt-out request during the change of coverage period.

How do I register for these courses?

These courses are for students already enrolled in a doctoral program at Université Laval Courses offered in distance or blended mode

Be sure to check the maximum student capacity in the course description. Note that students are divided into several smaller groups to stimulate discussion and interaction. 

No authorization is required to register for these courses. The professional skills development courses you take do not interfere with your doctoral program. Neither the course credit nor grade is taken into account in the calculation of your average. Your transcript will show that you have acquired the skills required in a professional sector.

Credits earned in professional skills development training are not considered in the total credits needed to achieve full-time student status. Only degree-applicable credits are considered in determining full-time status. 

During the registration period, confirm your course selection and proceed with your registration in myPortal.

What are the language requirements?

The content of some courses is in French and English. However, you can participate in discussion forums and write assignments in either language. Many articles and supplementary learning resources are in English.  

Contact us for more information.