New Graduate Program

The development of a new graduate program can take between 12-24 months from the date of submission. Click here to see an overview of the entire New Program Approval Process flowchart.

Phase One

When a department is planning to develop a new program a Statement of Interest should be sent to the Quality Assurance (QA) Office.

The Statement of Interest should be a brief  1-2 page document  that includes the following:

  • The proposed emphasis of the new program (i.e., what the new program will offer - similar to a course description)
  • Describe any unique or distinguishing attributes of the new program (e.g., capstone project, study abroad, fieldwork, boot camp, practicum etc.)
  • Whether the program will be regular, co-op or both
  • A suggested date for starting the program and projected enrolment (Canadian vs. International)
  • Do you expect to use an existing tuition rate or another one?
  • Space needs (renovations and/or new space)
  • The name of the individual(s) who will be developing the new program proposal

The QA Office then consults with Institutional Analysis and Planning (IAP) and the Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (AVPGSPA) and will connect with the department to clarify any information or ask questions etc.

The QA Office will share the Statement of Interest with following people: 

  • Institutional Analysis & Planning (IAP) - Budget Planning Resource Team (enrolment and financial viability analysis)
  • Space Planning and Utilization Office (renovations and new space)
  • Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies
  • University of Waterloo Librarian
  • Co-operative Education & Career Action (CECA) for programs with a co-op option
  • Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) for advice on learning outcomes
  • Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) for programs with online course

The Graduate Program Timelines Processes (pdf)  represents the current minimum timeline to establish a new graduate degree or diploma program based on Fall internal submission/approval. All items are required steps including: Consultation, document preparation, revision and submissions. The process may be shorter for programs that do not require a reviewers’ visit (collaborative programs and diplomas).

If Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD)  approval of funding is required (this is determined by Institutional Analysis & Planning - IAP), the department and Faculty Financial Officer work with IAP's Budget Planning Resource Team to prepare a Financial Viability Analysis (FVA), and a tuition fee proposal.

Formal preparation of a new program proposal (i.e., the Proposed Brief - Voume I) should not proceed until everything in Phase One has been approved by the Provost and the Quality Assurance Office.

Phase Two

Once Phase One is complete, Volume I (the Proposed Brief), II (Faculty CVs) and III (suggested reviewers) are prepared by the department, using the templates provided on this website, and reviewed by the AVPGSPA, GSPA, the Faculty Associate Dean, Institutional Analysis and Planning, and the Quality Assurance Office. 

The proposed submission must include learning outcomes mapped to the graduate degree level expectations (GDLES). The Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has created PhD sample formats and Masters sample format  programs. Contact Veronica Brown, in the CTE Office for further information.

If the new program includes a co-op experience, a Feasibility Study from Co-operative Education and Career Services is required, and all programs require a library report.

Phase Three

The proposed new program submission (Volume I, II, III) must go before the appropriate department/school and Faculty Council Committees for discussion and approval before a site visit is scheduled.

Co-ordination of a two-day site visit by two external reviewers and one internal faculty member of the University will be arranged by the Quality Assurance Office.  

The external reviewers are selected from those suggested by the program in Volume III (see criteria for choosing arm’s length reviewers). The internal faculty reviewer does not have to be a specialist in the field of the program review, but should be at arms’ length from the program in question, and normally comes from outside of the Faculty in which the program under review is located. The internal faculty reviewer and external reviewers are selected by the APVGSPA. 

During the site visit, the external review team will address the review criteria and submit a report, using the External Reviewers' Report template (doc) , two weeks after the site visit.

After the External Reviewers' Report is received, the Quality Assurance Office and APVGSPA will review it and seek clarification from the reviewers, if needed. Then the report is sent to the Provost, Dean, Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, and the department/school - which will have the opportunity to respond to the review comments. 

If the reviewers suggest modifications to the Proposed Brief, the program will prepare a response to the reviewers recommendations and revise the Proposed Brief. Depending on the amount and significance of the revisions, the brief may need to be re-approved through their Faculty Council, the Provost and the Quality Assurance Office, before it goes to Senate Graduate and Research Council and then Senate for approval.  Programs should consult with the Quality Assurance Office before submitting the proposal to SGRC.

The proposed brief will include information on course and milestone degree requirements. Hence, after the site visit, the SGRC Course/Milestone -New/Revision/Inactivation form will need to be completed to be included with the Proposed Brief submission to Senate Graduate & Research Council for approval. 

Once approved through the Senate, the Proposed Brief (Volume I), Faculty CVs (Volume II) and Proposed Reviewers (Volume III) are sent electronically to the Quality Council as well as the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD). If MAESD approval of funding is required, the submission to MAESD by will be made by Institutional Analysis and Planning (IAP).The Quality Assurance Office submits the proposal to the Quality Council.

Phase Four

After the new program proposal has been submitted to the Quality Council, the department may begin to advertise the new program. However, any ads must clearly note that the program is "subject to final approval by the Quality Council".

In addition, the following text must be including when referring to applications for the new program

Disclaimer Statement:

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.

The Quality Assurance Office will notify the department of the Quality Council's official decision. If approved, the department must complete the online application setup with Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA). 

GSPA will set up a meeting with Graduate Administrator for admission training.

GSPA will add approved courses to Quest and based on effective date the course will be published in the graduate calendar. The unit will schedule the classes.

Phase Five

A Two-year Progress Report is required for new programs. 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 consultants.

The new program will then enter into the regular seven-year review cycle.