3. Protocol for Expedited Approvals

The Quality Council’s Appraisal Committee provides a more expeditious version of external oversight through the processes and steps detailed in the Protocol for Expedited Approvals, enabling a nimbler evolution of programming. New graduate diploma programs (Types 2 and 3) are subject to the requirements of this Protocol. Universities are given the option to also submit proposed new fields for graduate programs, as well as proposed major modifications (see the Protocol for Major Modifications (Program Renewal and Significant Change)), should they so choose. The approval of submissions made through this Protocol is expedited because such proposals are not required to go through external review[1], and the authority for final approval rests with the Appraisal Committee.


The process associated with the Protocol for Expedited Approvals is intended to enable universities to secure Quality Council approvals more efficiently for changes that are considered less wide-ranging than New Program Proposals. As with each of the other four Protocols, the oversight provided by the requirements of this Protocol ensures that the integrity of a degree or diploma awarded by an Ontario university is sustained, and also enables evolution of programming in a timelier manner.


Proposals for new for-credit graduate diplomas (Types 2 and 3) are to be submitted for approval through the Protocol for Expedited Approvals. However, this Protocol can also optionally apply to requests for the Quality Council’s consideration of a new field(s) in a graduate program, as well as requests for its consideration of a proposed major modification to an existing program. This option might be helpful should a university wish to promote the fact that it has received the Quality Council’s approval for the proposal, and/or for a university that wishes to utilize the external oversight this Protocol provides.

This Protocol applies to the following proposal types:

  1. New for-credit graduate diplomas (Types 2 and 3) (see Definition); and
  2. New standalone degree program arising from a long-standing field in a master’s or doctoral program that has undergone at least two Cyclical Program Reviews and has at least two graduating cohorts.


The Protocol’s process requires the submission to the Quality Council of a Proposal. As the types of proposals detailed under “Scope” above would not require external review, only the applicable criteria outlined in Framework Section 2.1 will be applied to the Proposal, and Framework Sections 2.2 through to 2.3 (inclusive) will not apply. The Council’s appraisal and approval processes are also reduced. (See Section 3.2)

Flow Chart 2: Overview of the Protocol for Expedited Approvals shows the major steps, within the university and through the Quality Council.

(See Principles 1 and 7 – 10)


The process of applying for and approving those elements outlined under “Scope” above has been designed to ensure that the Appraisal Committee decisions can be provided quickly. While it is an essential outcome of the process that decisions by the Committee be made carefully and efficiently, universities also need efficient processes to ensure that new graduate diploma programs, or smaller programmatic changes, can be launched to meet upcoming term application deadlines, and more generally, to support innovation.

3.1       Proposal

The Proposal will describe the new graduate diploma program, new field(s), or the significant change(s) being proposed (including, as appropriate, reference to program-level learning outcomes, faculty and resources, and a brief account of the rationale for the changes), and address the Evaluation Criteria (see Section 2.1.2) where they apply. In recognition of the diversity in institutional strategies, universities may wish to include additional components to their expedited approval process, including for example, consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion, special missions and mandates, and student populations that are being encouraged by governments, institutions, and others.

See suggested template for submission of the Proposal.

3.2       Expedited process

After reviewing the submission, conferring with the proposing university, and receiving further information, as needed, the Council’s Appraisal Committee will come to its decision. It can be anticipated that any consultations will normally be brief and result in one of the following decisions:

  1. Approved to Commence[2];
  2. Approved to Commence, with Report[3]; or
  3. Not Approved

This step will normally be completed within 45 days of receipt of the university’s submission, provided that the submission is complete and in good order. Where additional information is required by the Appraisal Committee, one of the three possible outcomes (see above) will be made within a further 30 days of receipt of a satisfactory response. The Quality Assurance Secretariat will convey the decision of the Appraisal Committee to the Quality Council for information, and then to the university.

3.3       University may consult / appeal to Committee

Please refer to Sections 2.7.1 – 2.7.4 above for the equivalent appeal process.

3.4       Selection for Cyclical Audit

Programs created or modified through the Protocol for Expedited Approvals are not normally selected for the institution’s Cyclical Audit (see Section 6.2.4).


[1] As indicated in the Definition, Graduate Diplomas are not normally externally reviewed at the time of their creation. However, an approved GDip should be added to the Cyclical Program Review Schedule, for review alongside its “parent” program, where one exists. In the absence of an existing “parent” master’s or doctoral degree program, best practice would be to have the proposed GDip externally reviewed by desk review or equivalent method. [2] The Appraisal Committee may provide a note regarding an issue(s) to be considered at the time of the program’s launch, or for its first cyclical program review. [3] The with report condition implies no lack of quality in the program at this point, importantly does not hold up the implementation of the new program, and is not subject to public reference on the Quality Council’s website. The requirement for a report is typically the result of a provision or facility not currently in place but considered essential for a successful program and planned for later implementation.