Definitions

Academic Services

Those services integral to a student’s ability to achieve the program-level learning outcomes. 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, and financial aid services and career services, except where any of these services are specifically identified to be an integral part of the academic program.

Adjusted Oversight

A guiding Principle of the Quality Assurance Framework is that the “Quality Council recognizes past performance of institutions and adjusts oversight accordingly.” Adjusted oversight refers to the practice of decreasing or increasing the degree of oversight by the Quality Council depending upon the university’s compliance across the spectrum of its quality assurance practices. Oversight may also be increased in one area and decreased in another. Examples of adjusted oversight include: a reduction or increase in the number of programs selected for a Cyclical Audit, a Focused Audit, adjusted requirements for documentation, and adjusted reporting requirements. See Guidance for detailed examples

Collaborative Specialization

An intra-university graduate field of study that provides an additional multidisciplinary experience for students enrolled in and completing the degree requirements for one of a number of approved master’s and/or PhD programs within the collaborative specialization. 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 Specialization. The degree conferred is that of the home program, and the completion of the Collaborative Specialization 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).

A Collaborative Specialization must have:

  • At least one core one-semester course that is foundational to the specialization and does not form part of the course offerings of any of the partner programs. This course must be completed by all students from partner programs registered in the specialization and provides an opportunity for students to appreciate the different disciplinary perspectives that can be brought to bear on the area of specialization. This course may serve as an elective in the student’s home program.
  • Clear and explicit requirements for each Collaborative Specialization. In programs requiring a major research paper, essay, or thesis, the topic must be in the area of the collaborative specialization. In course-only master’s programs, at least 30% of the courses must be in the area of specialization including the core course described above. Courses in the area of specialization may be considered electives in the home program.
  • Only core faculty that are those faculty members in the participating home programs who have an interest and expertise in the area of the collaborative specialization (this may include faculty primarily appointed to an interdisciplinary academic unit – for example, an Institute of American Studies – that provides the anchor for the specialization).
  • Appropriate administrative and academic oversight/governance to ensure requirements associated with the specialization are being met.

Combined Programs

A program of study that combines two existing degree programs of different types. The combination may, for example, consist of two existing graduate programs, or a graduate and an undergraduate program. In most cases, the combination will involve at least one professionally oriented program. As students normally pursue one degree program at a time, and if two qualifications are sought, the degree programs would best be pursued consecutively.  However, there are cases where the combination of two programs may be advantageous from a student’s point of view.

If a combined program is proposed, there must be a demonstration that it provides such advantages to students through time efficiency, benefits to scholarship, professional development, or other considerations. Students must be made fully aware of the requirements and the schedule for completion of both programs, before embarking upon the combined degree.

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 university’s own expression of those Expectations (see Appendix 2) and achievement of the degree’s associated learning outcomes.

Degree Level Expectations

Academic standards that identify the knowledge and skill outcome competencies and reflect progressive levels of intellectual and creative development, as established by OCAV. The Degree Level Expectations detailed in Appendix 2 are the Quality Assurance Framework’s link to the OQF. Degree Level Expectations may be expressed in subject-specific or in generic terms. Graduates at specified degree levels (e.g., BA, 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 university’s expectations in terms appropriate to their academic programs.

Degree Program

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

Desk Audit

The process associated with the Audit Team’s auditing of documents that have been submitted for a university’s audit, as required as a preliminary step of the Cyclical Audit (see Section 6.2.5). A desk audit is one part of the process to determine an institution’s compliance with its own IQAP and/or the Quality Assurance Framework.

Desk Review

A review of a New Program Proposal or Self-study conducted by external reviewers that is conducted independently of the university (i.e., does not typically include interviews or in-person or virtual site visits). Such a review may, with the agreement of both the external reviewers and the Provost, replace the external reviewers’ in-person or virtual site visit in the New Program Approval process and Cyclical Program Review process for certain undergraduate and master’s program reviews (see Sections 2.2.1 and 5.2.1).

Diploma Programs

The complete set and sequence of courses, combinations of courses and/or other units of study prescribed by a university for the fulfillment of the requirements for each particular for-credit or not-for-credit undergraduate and graduate diploma. Not-for-credit and for-credit undergraduate or post-graduate 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 definitions below and Guidance), with specific appraisal conditions (and an associated submission checklist) applying to each. In each case, when proposing a new graduate diploma, a university may request an Expedited Approval process (see definition below). All such programs, once approved, will be subject to the normal cycle of program reviews, typically in conjunction with the related degree program.

Type 1:     Awarded when a candidate admitted to a master’s program leaves the program after completing a prescribed proportion of the requirements. Students are not admitted directly to these programs.

When new, these programs require approval through the university’s Protocol for Major Modification (Program Renewal and Significant Change) prior to their adoption. Once approved, they will be incorporated into the university’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 university’s schedule for cyclical reviews as part of the parent program.

Type 3:     A stand-alone, direct-entry program, generally developed by a unit already offering a related master’s or 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 university will use the Expedited Approval (see below).

Although the Expedited Approval protocol does not involve external reviewers, new Type 3 GDips are to be included in the Schedule for Cyclical Reviews and will be subject to external review during the CPR process.

Emphasis, Option, Minor Program (or similar)

An identified set and sequence of courses and/or other units of study, as well as research and practice within an area of disciplinary or interdisciplinary study, which are completed on an optional basis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the awarding of a degree, and which 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 Protocol

Generally, approvals granted in a shorter time span with less required documentation. The Expedited Protocol requires the submission to the Quality Council of a Proposal Brief (see suggested template) of the proposed program change/new program (as detailed above) and the rationale for it. Only the applicable criteria outlined in Framework Part Two Section 2.1 will be applied to the proposal. The process is further expedited by not requiring the use of external reviewers; hence Framework Part two Sections 2.2 does not apply. Furthermore, the Council’s appraisal and approval processes are reduced. (See Framework Section 3). The outcomes of these submissions will be conveyed to the proposing university directly by the Quality Assurance Secretariat and reported to the Quality Council.

Field

In graduate programs, 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 and to a new or existing program. Universities are not required to declare fields at either the master’s or doctoral level. Universities may wish, through an Expedited Protocol, to seek the endorsement of the Quality Council.

Focused Audit

A close examination of a specific aspect of an institution’s quality assurance processes and practices that have not met the standards/requirements set out by the Quality Council in the QAF or in the institution’s IQAP. A Focused Audit does not replace a Cyclical Audit.

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, offered by a postsecondary institution that is 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 program are upheld, but the student working with supervisors at each institution prepares a single thesis which 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. In the case of the Cotutelle, since this arrangement relates to an existing, approved program, no separate appraisal or review processes will apply.
  3. Dual Credential/Degree 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 Guidance)

The Protocol for New Program Approvals or the Protocol for Major Modifications (Significant Change and Program Renewal) will be used, as appropriate.

For existing inter-institutional programs in which all partners are institutions within Ontario, the Quality Council’s Cyclical Program Review Processes will apply to all elements of those programs as offered by all partner institutions involved (including, e.g., Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology and Institutes of Technology and Advanced Learning). For joint 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 their respective jurisdictions, but must also satisfy the corresponding requirements of the QAF. The Quality Council will verify that post-secondary assurance processes of an out-of-province partner are recognized and accepted as being comparable to our own. In cases where out-of-province processes are deemed to be insufficiently comparable to the requirements of the QAF, the Quality Council will determine the appropriate action to be taken on quality assurance if the collaboration is to be permitted to proceed.

Major Modifications

A “significant change” in the program requirements, intended learning outcomes, and/or human and other resources associated with a degree program or program of specialization, as defined by institutions within their IQAP. (See Guidance)

Micro-credentials

A designation of achievement of a coherent set of skills and knowledge, specified by a statement of purpose, learning outcomes, and strong evidence of need by industry, employers, and/or the community. They have fewer requirements and are of shorter duration than a qualification and focus on learning outcomes that are distinct from diploma/degree programs. While requiring recognition in the IQAP, proposals for the introduction or modification of a micro-credential do not require reference to the Quality Council unless they are part of a New Program.

Mode of Delivery

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

New Program

Any degree credential (e.g., BMus, Bachelor of Integrated Studies) or degree program (within an existing degree credential), 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 objectives, program requirements and program-level learning outcomes from those of any existing approved programs offered by the institution. Examples of what constitutes a ‘new program’ are provided in Guidance.

The approval process for the introduction of new undergraduate and graduate programs follows the New Program Approval Protocol in Framework Part Two 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.

Professional Master’s Program

Typically, a professional master’s degree is a terminal degree that does not lead to entry into a doctoral program. Such programs are designed to help students to prepare for a career in specific fields, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, finance or business, among others. A professional master’s degree often puts a great deal of focus on real-world application, with many requiring students to complete internships or projects in their field of study before graduation. In contrast, a research master’s degree provides experience in research and scholarship, and may be either the final degree or a step toward entry into a doctoral program

Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes

Clear and concise statements that describe what successful students should have achieved and the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they should have acquired by the end of the program, however an institution defines ‘program’ in its IQAP. Program-level student learning outcomes emphasize the application and integration of knowledge – both in the context of the program and more broadly – rather than coverage of material; make explicit the expectations for student success; are measurable and thus form the criteria for assessment/evaluation; and are written in greater detail than the program objectives. Clear and concise program-level learning outcomes also help to create shared expectations between students and instructors. (See Guidance)

Program Objectives

Clear and concise statements that describe the goals of the program, however an institution defines ‘program’ in its IQAP.  Program objectives explain the potential applications of the knowledge and skills acquired in the program; seek to help students connect learning across various contexts; situate the particular program in the context of the discipline as a whole; and are often broader in scope than the program-level learning outcomes that they help to generate. (See Guidance)

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

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

It should be noted that:

  1. A program constitutes complete fulfillment of the requirements for the awarding of a degree when the program and degree program are one and the same;
  2. 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 designation.

Undergraduate Certificate

A short form credential that forms a coherent program of study organized around a clear set of learning outcomes. Undergraduate certificates are comprised of undergraduate level academic content normally equivalent to a minimum of half a year of full-time study. While requiring recognition in the IQAP, proposals for the introduction or modification to an undergraduate certificate do not require reference to the Quality Council unless they are part of a New Program.

Virtual Site Visit

The practice of conducting all required elements of the external reviewers’ site visit using videoconferencing software and/or other suitable platforms. A virtual site visit will still include elements such as virtual meetings with students, faculty, and other stakeholders. It may also include remote attendance at performances or events, and virtual facilities tours. A virtual site visit may replace an in-person site visit for certain undergraduate and master’s program, with agreement from both the external reviewers and the Provost.