New Degree Programs

Stage 1: Initial Assessment 

Institutions apply to offer a new degree program using PSIPS according to the degree program review criteria and guidelines (PDF).

Each application under review is posted for peer and public review for 30 days and assessed whether it meets criteria related to the institution’s mandate and strategic plan, system consultation and coordination, labour market need and student demand.

External expert review (if applicable): If, after initial review, the Degree Quality Assessment Board determines that a review by qualified external experts is required, then experts are selected by the board according to nominees from the institution and the list of experts maintained by the board.

The board notifies the institution and works with them to schedule the review and arrange for payment. Following the review, the external experts provide a report to the board and to the institution. The institution may send written comments to the board on the external experts report prior to the board’s recommendation to the minister.

Organization review (if applicable): Institutions seeking consent under the Degree Authorization Act may also need to undergo an organization review as well as a degree program review. These reviews may be conducted either consecutively or concurrently.

Stage 2: Assessment by the Degree Quality Assessment Board 

If Stage 1 is successful, the institution develops a full proposal package for the new degree program. The Degree Quality Assessment Board reviews the proposal, expert reports, peer/public comments and institutional response, the board recommends that the minister: 

Approve, approve with conditions or not approve the institution’s application Public institutions
Grant consent, grant consent with terms and conditions, or not grant consent for the institution’s application Private and out-of-province public institutions

Minister's decision: The minister reviews the board’s recommendation and assessment requirements before making a final decision.

In the case of private or out-of-province public institutions, the minister:

  • Must be satisfied that students can access their transcripts
  • Must be satisfied that an institution can protect the interests of students in the event that it cannot complete the delivery of the degree program
  • Will attach necessary terms and conditions

The minister's final decision and the board's recommendation are posted for peer and public review for 30 days on the PSIPS.

Notification: The institution is advised of the minister's decision. The decision and a synopsis of the quality assessment process are posted online:

Additional Information

IMPORTANT – Proprietary information: Do not include proprietary information in a full program proposal. Attach it separately in PSIPS as appendix document (appendices will not be posted on the public website).

Application timing: Institutions can complete both stages consecutively or concurrently – this means they can choose to wait for application approval before developing the full degree proposal.

Exempt status: Institutions with exempt status are not required to have degree programs assessed by the board unless:

  • The degree program is beyond the level for which they are exempt
  • A review by the board is directed by the minister

Applied Degrees

To increase access to post-secondary education, the College and Institute Act was amended so that public colleges can offer applied baccalaureate degrees and provincial institutes can offer applied degrees at the master's level (with approval from the minister).

  • Colleges can offer applied baccalaureate degrees
  • University colleges and provincial institutes can offer applied degrees at the master’s level (with approval from the minister)

New applied degree programs should:

  • Help students pursue careers. Applied degrees offer practical skills training and knowledge that isn’t already available in a diploma or undergraduate program or that is inappropriate as part of an academic degree.
  • Provide access to a specific occupation. Applied degrees do not take a generalist approach, nor are they “umbrella” degrees where several loosely-related programs are combined to provide an advanced credential.
  • Be supported by relevant employer sectors. This support will ideally take the form of active involvement in all stages of program design and implementation – it should be more than letters solicited by the institution.
  • Be recognized by licensing, regulatory, accrediting and professional bodies. Institutions are expected to work with these bodies to have part, or all, of the program recognized as meeting professional educational requirements.
  • Include a diploma exit option for applied undergraduate degrees, where appropriate.
  • Not duplicate existing degree programs offered by universities and university colleges unless it can be shown that duplication is warranted – for example, where the demand for graduates exceeds the system’s capacity to produce them.

Both the Degree Quality Assurance Board and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training will review proposals to offer new applied degree programs.