Major Modifications to Existing Programs

It can be challenging to define what constitutes a “major modification” to an existing program.  The following examples are offered by the Quality Council to illustrate what will normally constitute a “significant change” and therefore a “major modification.”

A.  (Examples of) Requirements that differ significantly from those existing at the time of the previous cyclical program review 

  • The merger of two or more programs
  • New bridging options for college diploma graduates
  • Significant change in the laboratory time of an undergraduate program
  • The introduction or deletion of an undergraduate thesis or capstone project
  • The introduction or deletion of a work experience, co-op option, internship or practicum, or portfolio
  • At the master’s level, the introduction or deletion of a research project, research essay or thesis, course-only, co-op, internship or practicum option
  • The creation, deletion or re-naming of a field in a graduate program
  • Any change to the requirements for graduate program candidacy examinations, field studies or residence requirements
  • Major changes to courses comprising a significant proportion of the program (may be defined in quantitative terms; typically, institutions have chosen one-third)

B.  (Example of) Significant changes to the learning outcomes

  • Changes to program content, other than those previously listed in “A” that affect the learning outcomes but do not meet the threshold for a “new program”

C.  (Examples of) Significant changes to the faculty engaged in delivering the program and/or to essential resources, for example, when there have been changes to the existing mode(s) of delivery (such as different campus, online delivery and inter-institutional collaboration)

  • Changes to the faculty delivering the program; for example, a large proportion of the faculty retires, or new hires alter the areas of research and teaching interests
  • A change in the language of program delivery
  • The establishment of an existing degree program at another institution or location
  • The offering of an existing program substantially online where it had previously been offered in face-to-face mode, or vice versa
  • Change to full- or part-time program options, or vice versa
  • Changes to the essential resources, where these changes impair the delivery of the approved program 

The Quality Council strongly recommends the identification, in the university IQAP, of an arbiter or authority whose responsibility it will be to determine whether a change in any of the areas noted above constitutes a “significant change” and hence a “major modification” to an existing program.