The Business Administration and Retail Management Diploma is a vocationally oriented study programme at the university level, providing work-linked training for retail managers and other individuals with extensive experience in retail.
The diploma is offered jointly by Bifröst University and Reykjavík University. The programme’s strength lies in the dynamic partnerships forged with business and the collaboration between the two universities in developing and teaching the diploma programme.
Students who graduate from the diploma programme have the option of continuing their business studies at the undergraduate level, either at Bifröst University or Reykjavík University. Credits earned in the study programme can be evaluated towards a BS degree in Business Administration at both universities. The two universities mutually recognise the university credits (ECTS) earned in the programme as counting towards their respective BS degree programmes in Business Administration, regardless of which university has taught a given course.
The study programme is 60 ECTS and is structured to meet the needs of highly experienced individuals who seek to improve their qualifications at a university level. The diploma is designed as a two-year distributed-learning programme, which students can complete alongside their regular employment. Some courses offered in the new diploma programme are already taught at Bifröst University and Reykjavík University as part of the BS degree in Business Administration. A number of new courses have also been developed with the specific needs of the retail industry in mind, with the participation of key companies in Iceland.
In order to complete the programme within the expected two-year time frame, students must complete three courses per semester. However, students may complete the diploma over a longer period of time (up to four years). For the first three semesters, students must take a minimum of one of the three required courses: (a) Logistics, inventory and operations management; (b) Business; or (c) Commercial law.
For admission to the programme, applicants must have completed a matriculation examination (stúdentspróf) or its equivalent. An additional admission requirement is retail management experience or extensive work experience in retail.
Those who wish to apply on the basis of their work experience only, without having completed a matriculation examination, and lack fundamental knowledge in mathematics, Icelandic and English, must gain the necessary grounding in these subjects before being accepted. Preparatory studies in these subjects must be completed prior to starting the diploma programme.
For students completing their diploma in two years, the tuition fee is a total of ISK 830,000 over two years (before tuition subsidies or study grants).
Members of VR (The Store and Office Workers’ Union of Iceland) and LÍV (The Commercial Federation of Iceland) can apply to the SVS and SV vocational training funds for tuition subsidies and education grants. These cover tuition costs, provided that the company and the prospective student apply jointly and are entitled to the maximum amount from these funds.
Required courses in retail management (18 ECTS) for all students are:
Projects in these retail management courses are designed to focus on the student’s employment within his or her own company, thus providing a direct benefit for the company with which he or she works.
Required courses are taught in a distributed learning format (a combination of distance and classroom learning). Each course is 12 weeks in duration. Teaching consists of lectures, discussion sessions and project work, through both distance learning and three working weekends on campus. The diploma programme also includes guest lectures and workshops. Each subject begins with a two-day work session at Bifröst University, from Friday to Saturday. The following two work sessions are held at Reykjavík University.
Students study an additional five foundational subjects in business administration as part of the diploma programme. They have the choice of taking courses in these required subjects at either university: through distance learning from Bifröst University or in a classroom setting at Reykjavík University, as per the arrangements of each university. As a rule, students are expected to take two foundational subjects per semester, but they control their own study pace in completing this component of the programme. Foundational subjects are:
Students select one of the following courses as an elective:
Students may choose to complete either an individual or a group final project. The final project is carried out in cooperation with a commercial business, under the guidance of a supervisory teacher.
Katrín Þorgrímsdóttir, professional development advisor at VR – the Icelandic Store and Office Workers’ Union.