Creation and modification of graduate programs

Creation of new graduate programs

Evaluation and approval of new graduate programs

Proposals for new programs must undergo a rigorous appraisal and approval process that involves a number of stages. These general stages are outlined below. At any stage, the academic units involved may be asked to incorporate recommendations before moving on to the next approval stage.

A request to create a new program can be initiated by an academic unit, an institute, faculty members, central administration, the Office of the Vice-Provost , Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, students, or an external agency (e.g., external reviewers of a program; employers). In most cases, the proposed program will be linked to one or more academic units, which will then take the lead in creating the program.

The policies and procedures for assessing and approving new graduate programs ensure the University of Ottawa is able to provide programs of the best quality possible and meet the highest standards in these programs as well as foster a culture of continuous improvement.

Steps for creating new program
  1. The academic unit or units involved develop a Letter of Intent for the creation of a new graduate program.
  2. The units seek approval and support for the proposal from the home faculty or faculties.
  3. The proposal (including all documentation) is sent to the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  4. The proposal is reviewed by the Council of the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral for preliminary approval.
  5. The academic units begin preparing volumes I, II, and III of the proposal brief, to be submitted to the Graduate Program Committee.
  6. The Graduate Program Committee recommends two external reviewers and one internal reviewer from the list of possible reviewers, included in volume III of the proposal brief.
  7. The external and internal reviewers visit the academic units and submit a reviewers’ report within three weeks of the onsite visit.
  8. The academic units reply to the external and internal reviewers’ report, providing responses as applicable.
  9. All documentation (proposal, text for the University calendar, reviewers’ report and the internal response) is reviewed by the Graduate Program Committee.
  10. The final version of the proposal and description text for the University calendar is sent to the Senate’s Executive Committee and then to the Senate, for review.
  11. The Vice-President, Academic and Provost, sends the proposal to the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance for review.
  12. The approved proposal is sent to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for funding purposes.
  13. The approved program must be initiated within 36 months of approval.
  14. The University (by way of the deans of the academic units and the Vice-President Academic and Provost) monitors the program on an ongoing basis.
  15. A cyclical review of the program is conducted in the first seven years of the first student enrollment.
  • Letter of intent for the creation of a new graduate program (Word) - Under review
  • Template for the creation of a new graduate program - Volume I (Word) - Under review
Expedited approval of graduate programs

The expedited evaluation and approval process is the same as that for the approval of new programs except it does not involve an external review.

The expedited evaluation and approval process applies to:

  • Proposals for new graduate programs created from existing University of Ottawa programs or by adding components or options to current programs and for which the University has not requested an external review
  • Proposals for new collaborative graduate programs
  • Proposals for new for-unit (credit) graduate diplomas

Modifications to existing graduate programs

Changes to an existing program are considered either a minor or a major modification to the program. In both cases, the program will continue to be subject to a cyclical review.

Major modifications

Major modifications to existing programs typically involve one or more of the following program changes: 

  1. Requirements for the program differ significantly from those existing at the time of the previous cyclical review (e.g., a change in number and type of mandatory courses; a change in the language of program delivery)
  2. Significant changes to the desired learning outcomes
  3. Significant changes to the type or number of professors engaged in delivering the program (e.g., a significant proportion of professors retire; a high number of new professors results in significant changes to research and teaching interests within the program)
  4. Significant changes to essential physical resources (e.g., new laboratories are created; complete online delivery of the program is proposed; program is moved to an off-campus location) alter the delivery of an approved program.
  5. The closure of an existing program. 

This list is not exhaustive and does not cover all possibilities that would be classified as major modifications to a program. For further information or for questions on what constitutes a major modification, please contact the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies or the Graduate Program Committee.


  • Template for major modifications to graduate programs (Word) - Under review
  • Template for program closure (Word- Under review
Minor modifications

Minor modifications follow the same process as that for major modifications except they are not submitted to the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance.

A minor modification is defined as any small change (usually “cosmetic”) that does not alter the essential nature, learning outcomes, degree expectations or purpose of a program. Minor modifications involve:

  1. A change to a course description or title
  2. Removal of a non-mandatory course from a program (e.g., when it hasn’t been offered in some time)
  3. Addition, deletion or change to a prerequisite
  4. Splitting of a full-year course into two half-year courses or combining of two half-year courses into one full-year course
  5. A change to a course code

Useful templates

  • Template for minor modifications to graduate programs (Word) - Under review

Questions? Comments?

For any questions regarding quality assurance activities for the creation or modification of programs, please contact Luciana Vaduva at the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Academic Programs.

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