1.6 Definitions

Academic Services

Academic Services are defined as those services integral to a student’s ability to achieve the learning outcomes expected from a program. Such services would typically include, but are not limited to, academic advising and counselling appropriate to the program, information technology, library and laboratory resources directed towards the program, and internship, co-operative education and practicum placement services – where these experiential components are a required part of a program. Excluded from academic services are items such as intramural and extramural activities, residence services, food services, health and wellness services, psychological services, financial aid services and career services, except where any of these services are specifically identified to be an integral part of the academic program. 

Collaborative Program

A collaborative program is an intra-university graduate program that provides an additional multidisciplinary experience for students enrolled in and completing the degree requirements for one of a number of approved programs. Students meet the admission requirements of and register in the participating (or “home”) program but complete, in addition to the degree requirements of that program, the additional requirements specified by the collaborative program. The degree conferred is that of the home program, and the completion of the collaborative program is indicated by a transcript notation indicating the additional specialization that has been attained (e.g., MA in Political Science with specialization in American Studies). Proposals for new Collaborative programs will follow the Protocol for Expedited Approvals and thereafter will require cyclical review.

Degree

An academic credential awarded on successful completion of a prescribed set and sequence of requirements at a specified standard of performance consistent with the OCAV’s Degree Level Expectations and the institution’s own expression of those Expectations (see Appendix 1).

Degree Level Expectations

The Degree Level Expectations established by OCAV serve as Ontario universities’ academic standards and identify the knowledge and skill outcome competencies that reflect progressive levels of intellectual and creative development. They may be expressed in subject-specific or in generic terms. Graduates at specified degree levels (e.g., BA and MSc) are expected to demonstrate these competencies. Each university has undertaken to adapt and describe the degree level expectations that will apply within its own institution. Likewise, academic units will describe their institution’s expectations in terms appropriate to its academic program(s). Further information, together with examples for successive degree levels, is provided in the Guide.

Degree Program

The complete set and sequence of courses, combinations of courses and/or other units of study, research and practice prescribed by an institution for the fulfillment of the requirements of a particular degree.

Diploma Program

Universities may grant diplomas in acknowledgement of students’ participation in either for-credit or not-for-credit activities at the undergraduate and graduate level. Not-for-credit and for-credit undergraduate diploma programs are not subject to approval or audit by the Quality Council.

The Quality Council recognizes only three types or categories of Graduate Diploma (see below and Guide) and has specific appraisal conditions (and an associated submission template) applying to each. In each case, when proposing a new graduate diploma, a university may request an Expedited Approval Process.

  • Type 1: Awarded when a candidate admitted to a master’s program leaves the program after completing a certain proportion of the requirements. Students are not admitted directly to these programs.  When new, these programs require submission to the Quality Council for an Expedited Approval (no external reviewers required) prior to their adoption. Once approved, they will be incorporated into the institution’s schedule for cyclical reviews as part of the parent program.
  • Type 2: Offered in conjunction with a master’s (or doctoral) degree, the admission to which requires that the candidate be already admitted to the master’s (or doctoral) program. This represents an additional, usually interdisciplinary, qualification.  When new, these programs require submission to the Quality Council for an Expedited Approval (no external reviewers required) prior to their adoption. Once approved, they will be incorporated into the institution’s schedule for cyclical reviews as part of the parent program.
  • Type 3[1]A stand-alone, direct-entry program, generally developed by a unit already offering a related master’s (and sometimes doctoral) degree, and designed to meet the needs of a particular clientele or market.

Where the program has been conceived and developed as a distinct and original entity, the institution will use the Expedited Approval.

All such programs, once approved, will be subject to the normal institutional cycle of program reviews, typically in conjunction with the related degree program.

Emphasis, Option, Minor Program (or similar)

An identified set and sequence of courses and/or other units of study, research and practice within an area of disciplinary or interdisciplinary study, which is completed on an optional basis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the awarding of a degree, and may be recorded on the graduate’s academic record. While requiring recognition in the IQAP, proposals for their introduction or modification do not require reference to the Quality Council unless they are part of a New Program.

Expedited Approvals

The Quality Council will normally require only an Expedited Approval process where:

a)    an institution requests endorsement of the Quality Council to declare a new Field in a graduate program. (Note that institutions are not required to declare fields in either master’s or doctoral programs.); or
b)    there is a proposal for a new Collaborative Program; or
c)     there are proposals for new for-credit graduate diplomas; or
d)    an institution requests it, there are Major Modifications to Existing Programs, as already defined through the IQAP, proposed for a degree program or program of specialization.

The Expedited Approval Process requires the submission to the Quality Council of a Proposal Brief (see template) of the proposed program change/new program and the rationale for it. Only the applicable criteria outlined in Framework Section 2.1 will be applied to the proposal. The process is further expedited by not requiring the use of external reviewers; hence Framework Sections 2.2.6 through 2.2.8 (inclusive) do not apply. Furthermore, the Council’s appraisal and approval processes are reduced. (See Framework Section 3.)

The outcomes of these expedited approval processes will be conveyed to the proposing institution directly by the Executive Director and reported to the Quality Council.

Field

In graduate programs, field refers to an area of specialization or concentration (in multi/interdisciplinary programs a clustered area of specialization) that is related to the demonstrable and collective strengths of the program’s faculty. Institutions are not required to declare fields at either the master’s or doctoral level. Institutions may wish, through an expedited approval process, to seek the endorsement of the Quality Council.

Graduate Level Course

A course offered by a graduate program and taught by institutionally approved graduate faculty, where the learning outcomes are aligned with the Graduate Degree Level Expectations and the majority of students are registered as graduate students.

Inter-Institutional Program Categories

  1. Conjoint Degree Program: A program of study which is offered by a postsecondary institution affiliated, federated or collaborating with a university; which is approved by the university’s Senate or equivalent body; and for which a single degree document signed by both institutions is awarded.
  2. Cotutelle: A customized program of doctoral study developed jointly by two institutions for an individual student in which the requirements of each university’s doctoral programs are upheld, but the student working with supervisors at each institution prepares a single thesis that is then examined by a committee whose members are drawn from both institutions. The student is awarded two degree documents though there is a notation on the transcripts indicating that the student completed his or her thesis under cotutelle arrangements.
  3. Dual Credential Program: A program of study offered by two or more universities or by a university and a college or institute, including Institutes of Technology and Advanced Learning, in which successful completion of the requirements is confirmed by a separate and different degree/diploma document being awarded by each of the participating institutions.
  4. Joint Degree Program: A program of study offered by two or more universities or by a university and a college or institute, including an Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, in which successful completion of the requirements is confirmed by a single degree document. (See Guide.)

In the case of the Cotutelle, since this arrangement relates to an existing, approved program, no separate appraisal or review processes will apply.

For all inter-institutional programs in which all partners are institutions within Ontario, the Quality Council’s standard New Program Approval and Cyclical Program Review processes will apply to all elements of programs regardless of which partner offers them, including the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology and Institutes of Technology and Advanced Learning. For joint and collaborative programs in which some partners are institutions outside Ontario, the elements of the programs contributed by the out-of-province partner will be subject to the quality assurance processes in its respective jurisdiction. The Quality Council will maintain a directory of bodies whose postsecondary assurance processes are recognized and accepted as being comparable to our own. In cases where such recognition is not available, the Quality Council will determine, on a case-by-case basis, the appropriate action to be taken on quality assurance if the collaboration is to be permitted to proceed. 

Major Modifications to Existing Programs

As part of the ratification step, institutions will be required to define, for the Quality Council, within their IQAP, their internal definition of what constitutes a “significant change” in the requirements, intended learning outcomes or human and other resources associated with a degree program or program of specialization. (See Guide.)

Major modifications include the following program changes:
a)     Requirements that differ significantly from those existing at the time of the previous cyclical program review;
b)    Significant changes to the learning outcomes;
c)     Significant changes to the faculty engaged in delivering the program and/or to the essential physical resources as may occur, for example, where there have been changes to the existing mode(s) of delivery (such as different campus, online delivery and inter-institutional collaboration);
d)    The addition of a new field to an existing graduate program. This modification is subject to an Expedited Approval. Note that institutions are not required to declare fields for either master’s or doctoral programs.

Institutions will be responsible for approvals of categories a), b) and c) of Major Modifications using their internal quality assurance processes and for reporting annually to the Quality Council on the programs that have been modified in the past year.

If institutions request a Quality Council review of a Major Modification to an Existing Program, the Expedited Approval process will apply.

Mode of Delivery

The means or medium used in delivering a program (e.g., lecture format, distance, online, problem-based, compressed part-time, different campus, inter-institutional collaboration or other non-standard form of delivery). 

New Program

Any degree, degree program, or program of specialization, currently approved by Senate or equivalent governing body, which has not been previously approved for that institution by the Quality Council, its predecessors, or any intra-institutional approval processes that previously applied. A change of name, only, does not constitute a new program; nor does the inclusion of a new program of specialization where another with the same designation already exists (e.g., a new honours program where a major with the same designation already exists). To clarify, for the purposes of this Framework, a “new program” is brand new: that is to say, the program has substantially different program requirements and substantially different learning outcomes from those of any existing approved programs offered by the institution. Examples of what constitutes a “new program” are provided in the Guide.

The approval process for the introduction of new undergraduate and graduate programs follows the New Program Approval Protocol (Framework Section 2). All Proposal Briefs submitted to the Quality Council will report whether the program is a professional program and/or a full-cost recovery program. 

Program of Specialization (e.g., a major, honours program, concentration or similar)

An identified set and sequence of courses, and/or other units of study, research and practice within an area of disciplinary or interdisciplinary study, which is completed in full or partial fulfillment of the requirements for the awarding of a degree, and is recorded on the graduate’s academic record.

It should be noted that:
a)     A program constitutes “full” fulfillment of the requirements for the awarding of a degree when the program and degree program are one and the same;
b)    A program constitutes “partial” fulfillment of the requirements for the awarding of a degree when the program is a subset of the degree program. Typically, a bachelor’s degree requires the completion of a program of specialization, often referred to as a major, an honours program, a concentration or similar.

Footnotes

  1. “Type 3” Graduate Diplomas now incorporate both types 3 and 4, which had existed in the previous OCGS procedures.