Distinguishing between Major Modifications and New Programs: Examples
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”.
1. (Examples of) Requirements that differ significantly from those existing at the time of the previous cyclical program review, or at the time the program was first approved
- The merger of two or more programs, in the absence of any other significant changes (e.g., to the degree designation, learning outcomes, etc.)
- New bridging options for college diploma graduates (e.g., 2+2 arrangements)
- 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
- 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)
2. (Example of) Significant changes to the learning outcomes
- Changes to program content, other than those listed in a) above, that affect the learning outcomes, but do not meet the threshold for a ‘new program’
3. (Examples of) Significant changes to the faculty engaged in delivering the program and/or to the essential resources as may occur, for example, when there have been changes to the existing mode(s) of delivery (e.g. different campus, online delivery, inter-institutional collaboration)
- Changes to the faculty delivering the program: e.g. a large proportion of the faculty retires; 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
Following are a sample of questions and answers received by MCU on “new program” versus “major modification”:
- An existing Masters program wanted to change two out of the three participating departments.
This was considered to be a new program as there appeared to be a significant change to the program: the program became a professional program, tuition increased, and two of the three participating departments changed.
- A new Honours BA program in Health Administration was reported as a variant of the existing Honours BA program in Health Studies and was not submitted for approval. The two programs were distinct with different outcomes and courses. Also, this new program did not replace the existing Health Studies program.
The BA program in Health Administration was deemed to be a brand-new program with distinct courses and outcomes. MCU explained that although the Health Administration program shared a few courses with the approved Health Studies program, it was a brand-new program that needed to go to the Ministry for approval.
- A Bachelor of Technology program added on two separate program designations (Biotechnology and Automotive and Vehicle Technology). The institution asked if the addition of program designations required approval.
Both the Ministry and the institution decided it was a brand-new program and required approval from the Ministry.
- A program changed from a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts to a Bachelor of Fine Arts. The institution was unsure if this was considered a new program and asked for clarification.
The new BFA was to be reported as a new program as: (1) There would be a change in government funding in the first year, and (2) The program was originally reported as “core” and so did not require/receive approval. Once it become non-core, it required approval.
- A BA in Gerontology and a BA in Health Studies program merged into a BA in Health Aging and Society. Objectives, outcomes and BIU would remain the same and the courses were similar.
It was decided that this program could be reported in the Program Development Report and note the closing of the original programs and the merge.
Finally, the following additional examples have been developed by the Quality Council:
- A university has a major program in Spanish that focuses on language, and wishes to create a program in Spanish Studies that focuses on cultural studies. The Spanish Studies program would be viewed as a new program.
- A university has a major program in Sociology, and wishes to create a program in Social Justice and Equity Studies that incorporates courses from other disciplines and requires the creation of new courses. The Social Justice and Equity Studies program would be viewed as a new program.
- A university has a minor program in X and wishes to create a major. The new major would be viewed as a new program.
- A university has an approved Master’s program in Community Health Sciences offered by a department in a Faculty of Medicine; it wishes to offer an accredited program in Public Health that would draw on multi‐disciplinary expertise from Social Sciences, Philosophy, Nutrition and Statistics, as well as from expertise in Medicine. The Public Health program would be regarded as a new program, whatever its designation (e.g., MHSc or MPH).
- A university has an approved BA program in Geography with a specialty available in Human Geography. As an extension of its strength in human geography and as a way of involving faculty from other disciplines, it now wishes to offer a program in Planning, with specialties in both Urban and Rural Planning. The new BA in Planning would be regarded as a new program.
- A university offers a BA in Linguistics. It now wishes to offer a BSc in order to draw on its growing research strength in Neurolinguistics. The BSc would be viewed as a new program.
- Chemistry has a field in Nano Applications, and it now wishes to establish a program in Nanoscience, in collaboration with other Departments, and involving existing courses from the other Departments, as well as several new courses. The Nanoscience program would be viewed as a new program.
- A university has an EdD in Education, and it wishes to offer a PhD with a requirement for a dissertation. The latter would be viewed as a new program.
- A university wants to add a Graduate Diploma in Engineering composed of existing courses. The new GDip would be a new program (requiring only an Expedited Approval from the Quality Council).
- A university is in the midst of dissolving its collaborative nursing degree program with a partner college. The university did not originally develop the portion of the curriculum that was being delivered by the college and does not already have a separate standalone nursing degree program, but wishes to offer one. This would be viewed as a new program.
- A university wishes to inherit or take over a program from another university that it does not currently offer its own version of. This would be viewed as a new program. Another university is also in the midst of dissolving its collaborative nursing degree program with a partner college and plans to take over delivery of the full 4-year program. The degree and its associated curriculum were originally developed and approved by the university, the learning outcomes will not be changed, the majority of the courses will remain the same and other programmatic changes will not be significant. This would not be viewed as a new program.
- Another university is also in the midst of dissolving its collaborative nursing degree program with a partner college and plans to take over delivery of the full 4-year program. The degree and its associated curriculum were originally developed and approved by the university, the learning outcomes will not be changed, the majority of the courses will remain the same and other programmatic changes will not be significant. This would not be viewed as a new program.
- A university offers an MBA program, and wishes to offer in addition a Master of Financial Administration. Students could then choose which designation they wish to receive. The courses, learning outcomes, and teaching faculty have not changed. This would not be viewed as a new program.
- A university has several approved programs in Mathematics (Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Statistics), which it wishes to combine into one Major in Mathematics. This would not be viewed as a new program.
- A university has a Business program (BComm) for which it is seeking accreditation. It must have X number of courses taught by faculty with a PhD. A significant number of new hires are therefore required. This would not be viewed as a new program.
- Changing a degree designation, for example, an LL.B. degree to a JD, without also substantially changing the program requirements or learning outcomes, is not a new program.
- The creation of a new Collaborative Specialization is an example of a major modification, as is the modification of an existing Collaborative Specialization. Minor changes to existing Collaborative Specializations can, however, be handled through a university’s protocol for minor modifications.