The development of a new program can take between 1.5 (graduate programs) to 2.5 years (undergraduate programs) to progress from Phase One to Phase Four. The New Program Approval Flowchart (pdf) illustrates each of the steps involved in the development of a new program.
The process may be shorter for programs that do not require an external reviewers’ site visit (i.e., collaborative programs and graduate diplomas). Please review Expedited Approvals for details.
The Quality Assurance (QA) Office shepherds the new program approval process and is the main point-of-contact for those who are developing a new program(s).
Phase One – Preparation
The primary contact for the new program needs to discuss the idea with the Department/School and the Dean’s Office. Once general support for the new program is provided by the Dean, the next step is to prepare a Statement of Interest.
The Statement of Interest (please use the template provided) is a brief 1-2 page document that accomplishes the following:
- Provides an overview of the new program including its focus, the learning outcomes (i.e., UDLEs or GDLEs) for the program and the factors that prompted the decision to create a new program;
- Discusses how the new program will be different from and complementary to existing programs in terms of learning outcomes;
- Describes how the program will benefit students;
- Describes the credential offered and proposed structure and format of the new program including whether the program will be offered as a co-op program, a regular program, or both; whether the program will be available full-time or part-time; and online or on-campus, etc.;
- Proposes a suggested start date for the program and projected enrolment (Canadian vs. International);
- Proposes a tuition rate (i.e., will the program charge an existing tuition rate or an alternative one?); and
- Identifies any resource requirements (e.g. new faculty or staff positions, renovations and/or new space, development of online courses, etc.)
Once completed, the Statement of Interest is submitted to the QA Office. Once a Statement of Interest is received, the QA Office will consult with the Associate Vice-President, Academic (AVPA) and/or Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (AVPGSPA) and the related academic support units. The QA Office will then respond to the primary contact for the new program with feedback and directions to prepare the first draft of the Proposal Brief (Volume I).
Phase Two – Proposal Development
The Proposal Brief must include learning outcomes mapped to the Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations (UDLEs) or Graduate Degree Level Expectations (GDLEs). The Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has a number of resources, including templates and examples available on their website. Contact Veronica Brown, in CTE for further information.
All programs require a library report written by the Subject Librarian. In addition, if the new program includes co-op, a Feasibility Study, prepared by a Faculty Relations Manager from Co-operative and Experiential Education is required.
Once the Proposal Brief (Volume I) has been drafted and approved by the Department/School, it is submitted to the QA Office. The Office then distributes the brief to the appropriate academic support units and gathers feedback.
The Dean and Faculty Financial Officer work with the Budget and Resource Planning Team in Institutional Analysis & Planning (IAP) to prepare a Financial Viability Analysis (FVA) for the new program. The Budget Planning Resource Team and the Faculty Financial Officer will complete the FVA, and present it, along with a draft of the Proposal Brief (Volume I) to the Provost for decision.
The final version of the Proposal Brief (Volume I) is completed by incorporating any requested changes or revisions from the academic support units and/or Provost. If changes are substantial, the proposal may be required to go back to the Department/School and Provost for approval.
Following the completion of Phases One and Two, the final version of Volume I (the Proposal Brief), Volume II (Faculty CVs), and Volume III (Proposed Reviewers), as well as the academic calendar descriptions, are submitted to the QA Office.
The New Program Proposal (Volume I, II, III) cannot proceed for approval at Faculty Council, until approved by the academic support units, the QA Office, the AVPA/AVPGSPA, and the Provost.
Phase Three – Approval
The New Program Proposal (Volume I, II, III) must be approved at the appropriate Department/School and Faculty Council Committees before a site visit is scheduled.
Co-ordination of a two-day site visit will be arranged by the QA Office. The review team will consist of two external reviewers and one internal faculty member of the University.
The external reviewers are selected from those suggested by the program in Volume III (see criteria for choosing arm’s length reviewers). The external reviewers and internal reviewer are selected by the AVPA and/or AVPGSPA.
During the site visit, the external review team will evaluate the proposed program against set criteria, and submit a report, using the External Reviewers' Report template, within two weeks of the site visit.
After the External Reviewers' Report is received, the QA Office and AVPA and/or AVPGSPA will review it and seek clarification from the reviewers, if needed. The final report will be shared with the Provost, Dean, Associate Dean, Undergraduate and/or Graduate Studies, and with the primary contact.
The primary contact for the new program will prepare a response to the reviewers’ recommendations and revise the Proposal Brief (Volume I), as needed. Depending on the number and significance of the revisions, the brief may need to be re-approved by the Provost, Faculty Council and the QA Office before the proposal goes to Senate Undergraduate Council (SUC) or Senate Graduate and Research Council (SGRC), and then Senate for approval. All new program submissions will be submitted to SUC or SGRC by the QA Office. Please submit all three Volumes to the QA Office well in advance of meeting deadlines.
Once approved through SUC/SGRC and Senate, the Proposal Brief (Volume I) and Faculty CVs (Volume II) are sent electronically to the Quality Council by the QA Office.
Once the proposal has been submitted to the Quality Council, IAP will submit the program proposal to the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU) for approval. MTCU has only four program approval submission dates per year, and approval typically takes 4-6 months or longer. MTCU approves two key aspects of new programs: the proposed tuition rate and approval that domestic enrolment in the program will be eligible for operating grant (students are only eligible for OSAP if their program is MTCU-approved).
After the New Program Proposal has been submitted to the Quality Council, the Department/School may begin to advertise the new program. However, any announcements or ads must contain the following statement:
"Prospective students are advised that offers of admission to a new program may be made only after the university's own quality assurance processes have been completed and the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance has approved the program."
In addition, the following text must be including when referring to applications for the new program:
The University of Waterloo is now accepting applications for the proposed (ENTER PROGRAM NAME HERE) degree program. Processing of these applications and admission of students will not occur until the program is approved by the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance. The University will acknowledge and store applications, but will be unable to evaluate or act on them in any way until the program has been formally approved by the Quality Council. In the unlikely case that the program is not approved, the application fee will be refunded*.
Please contact (ENTER CONTACT HERE) for more information.
*Refunds are provided by the department.
Phase Four – Implementation and Follow-up
The QA Office will notify the department of the Quality Council's official decision. Institutional Analysis and Planning (IAP), will notify the department about approval for grant funding from MTCU. Once approval is granted, the program may launch with its first student intake.
Two years following the new program’s first intake, a progress report (template provided) must be submitted to the QA Office. The purpose of the Two-Year Progress Report is to provide initial data on student progress and implementation of the program, and to respond to any issues raised by the reviewers.
The new program will enter into the cyclical academic program review cycle, with the first review taking place seven years following implementation of the program.