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Curriculum Change Procedures

Classification number ACD 1501.01
Parent policy Institutional Quality Assurance Process Policy
Framework category Academic
Approving authority Academic Council
Policy owner Vice-President, Academic and Provost
Approval date September 27, 2022
Review date September 2025
Supersedes ACD 1501 (June 2010); Quality Assurance Handbook (June 2011); Curriculum Change Procedures (June 2020); Not-for-Academic Credit Digital Badges, Microcredentials, and Stackable Credentials Policy (July 2021)


The purpose of these Procedures is to establish a consistent process for defining and documenting changes to courses and programs that will facilitate their review and approval under the provincial quality assurance framework.  


For the purposes of these procedures the following definitions apply:

Academic Council: the most senior academic governance body of the institution

Faculty Council: established by Academic Council to approve new programs and courses, policies (including admissions), academic standards, curriculum and degree requirements, and long-range academic plans, at the Faculty level

Field: In graduate programs, an area of specialization or concentration that is related to the demonstrable and collective strengths of the program’s faculty and to a new or existing program. Fields are not required at either the master’s or doctoral level.

Graduate Diploma: A prescribed set of degree credit courses and/or other forms of study that can be undertaken as a stand-alone program or to complement a graduate degree program, and to provide specialization, sub-specialization or inter- or multi- disciplinary qualification. A graduate diploma is comprised of at least 12 credit hours of graduate level study. There are three types of Graduate Diplomas as set out by the Council of Ontario Universities:

  1. Type 1: Awarded when a candidate admitted to a master’s program leaves the program after completing a prescribed proportion of the requirements. Students are not admitted directly to these programs. When new, these programs require approval through the university’s protocol for Major Modification prior to their adoption. Once approved, they will be incorporated into the institution’s schedule for cyclical reviews as part of the parent program.
  2. Type 2: A concurrent graduate diploma is offered in conjunction with a master’s or doctoral degree, the admission to which requires that the candidate be already admitted to the master’s or doctoral program. This represents an additional, usually interdisciplinary, qualification and requires advanced level, usually interdisciplinary, study, at least 50% of which is in addition to the general requirements for the degree. When new, these programs require submission to the Quality Council for an Expedited Approval (no external reviewers required) prior to their adoption. Once approved, they will be incorporated into the university’s schedule for cyclical reviews as part of the parent program.
  3. Type 3: A direct-entry graduate diploma is a stand-alone, direct-entry program, generally developed by a unit already offering a related master’s (and sometimes doctoral) degree, and designed to meet the needs of a particular clientele or market. Ontario Tech type 3 graduate diplomas may include non-degree credit courses to a maximum of 30% of the total program credit hours. Where the program has been conceived and developed as a distinct and original entity, these programs require submission to the Quality Council for an Expedited Approval (no external reviewers required) prior to their adoption. Once approved, they will be included in the Schedule for Cyclical Reviews and will be subject to external review during the CPR process.

Graduate Studies Committee (GSC): a standing committee of Academic Council responsible for reviewing graduate curriculum proposals and documents

Major Program Modifications: those modifications that constitute a significant change to the design and delivery of an existing program 

Micro-credential: A designation of achievement of a coherent set of skills and knowledge, specified by a statement of purpose, learning outcomes, and strong evidence of need by industry, employers, and/or the community. They have fewer requirements and are of shorter duration than a qualification and focus on learning outcomes that are distinct from diploma/degree programs.

Minor Curricular Changes: those changes to individual courses and curricular offerings that do not affect the overall program requirements

Minor Program Adjustments: changes to program requirements and/or learning outcomes that may require a plan for transitioning cohorts of students to meet different requirements over time

Program: A complete set and sequence of courses, combination of courses, and/or other units of study, research and practice; the successful completion of which qualifies the candidate for a formal credential (degree with or without major; diploma).

Quality Council: the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance, established by the Council of Ontario Universities in July 2010, responsible for oversight of the Quality Assurance Framework processes for Ontario Universities. The Council operates at arm’s length from both Ontario’s publicly assisted universities and the Ontario government.

Undergraduate Studies Committee (USC): a standing committee of Academic Council responsible for reviewing undergraduate curriculum proposals and documents

Scope and authority

These procedures apply to the full range of for-credit curricular and programmatic endeavours at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, including Micro-credentials whether offered in full, in part, or conjointly by any institutions federated or affiliated with the University.  It also applies to Programs offered in partnership, collaboration or other such arrangement with other post-secondary institutions including colleges, universities, or other institutes. 

The Provost, or successor thereof, is the Policy Owner and is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration, and interpretation of these Procedures.


Modifications to existing Programs range from changes to individual courses and curricular offerings, through minor adjustments to programs and regulations, to major modifications, such as the introduction of new specializations and fields. The Centre for Institutional Quality Enhancement will provide access to an electronic workflow tracking system and repository for curricular changes. Individuals may use the templates provided at as a guide to assist in the planning of the changes prior to creating formal electronic proposals for approval in the electronic system.

Minor Curricular Changes

  1. Minor Curricular Changes fall under the purview of the Faculty Council(s), normally through its curriculum committee or similar body, and include:
    • The creation of new elective courses and the deletion of elective courses
    • Changes to course titles and course descriptions
    • Changes to course numbers, credit weighting of elective courses, and contact hours in lecture, lab, tutorial or other components
    • Changes to prerequisites, co-requisites, cross-listed courses, credit restrictions and/or credit exclusions
    • Changes in the design, mode of delivery, course learning outcomes, teaching and assessment methods of an individual course
    • Changes to, or the addition of, experiential learning components, which are part of the course delivery
    • Other minor changes to individual course offerings that do not affect the overall program requirements

  2. Minor Curricular Changes will be approved at the Faculty Council. Minor Curricular Changes must be reported to the appropriate standing committee of Academic Council (USC or GSC) using the appropriate electronic proposal by the end of January each year for implementation in the upcoming Academic Calendar.

  3. Consultation with other Faculty Councils is required if the course being modified is core to another program. Consultation, in accordance with the current procedures for Indigenous consultation, is required if the new elective course or course being modified will contain Indigenous content.

Minor Program Adjustments

  1. Minor Program Adjustments will include a full electronic proposal brief and are submitted to the appropriate standing committee of Academic Council for approval. Minor Program Adjustments include:
    • The introduction of new required courses
    • The deletion of required courses
    • Editorial changes to degree requirements or program learning outcomes, which may include those completed as a result of a cyclical review
    • New academic requirements or changes to existing requirements
    • Changing the delivery mode of some courses
    • The introduction of the option to complete a portion or portions of an existing program to receive a for-credit Micro-credential
    • The creation of a new, stand-alone, for-credit Micro-credential

      For clarity, changes will be defined as Minor Program Adjustments when:
    • The introduction, deletion, or modification of courses or requirements equals no more than one-third of the total course credit hours of the Program
  2. Minor Program Adjustments must be presented directly to the USC or GSC for consideration and approval following their recommendation by Faculty Council. Any changes must receive this committee’s approval prior to their implementation and inclusion in the academic calendars. The outcome is subsequently reported to Academic Council for information. 
    1. To be included in the academic calendars for the subsequent academic year, proposals must be received by the Committees no later than the end of January.
    2. Proposals that include the creation or introduction of a Micro-credential will be also be reported to the appropriate micro-credential committee. Approved Micro-credentials will be submitted to the Ministry for designation as eligible for Ontario Student Assistance Program funding, if applicable.
  3. Minor Program Adjustment proposal briefs must minimally include the following information:
    1. A summary of the proposed change, setting out the rationale and context for it, including any consideration of the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization.

    2. A description of the ways in which the proposed change will enhance the academic opportunities for students, or the issues or challenges that the proposed change are intended to address.

    3. An account of the process of consultation with other units and measures taken to minimize the impact of the change on students if the proposed change involves students/faculty from other programs or courses. An account of the process of consultation related to Indigenous content is required if the proposed change has or will contain Indigenous content.

    4. A timeline for the implementation of the proposed change and transition plan for current students if applicable.

    5. An analysis of the resource and enrolment implications, including support for any proposed online or hybrid delivery.

    6. Calendar copy and program maps for the proposed change that clearly highlight the revisions to be made to the existing curriculum.

    7. Completed proposals for all new courses and changes to existing courses that result from the change.

Major Program Modifications 

  1. The Quality Council defines Major Program Modifications to include the following Program changes:

    • Requirements that differ significantly from those existing at the time of the previous cyclical program review
    • Significant changes to the learning outcomes that do not, however, meet the threshold of a new program
    • Significant changes to the program’s delivery, including to the program’s faculty and/or to the essential physical resources as may occur, for example, where there have been changes to the existing mode(s) of delivery (e.g., different campus and/or online/hybrid delivery)
    • Change in program name and/or degree nomenclature, when this results in a change in learning outcomes
    • Addition of a single new field to an existing graduate program. Note that universities are not required to declare fields for either master’s or doctoral programs. Note also that the creation of more than one field at one point in time or over subsequent years may need to go through the New Program Expedited ProtocolFor greater clarity, the following examples illustrate changes that normally constitute a significant change and would therefore be considered a Major Program Modification:
    • The merger of two or more Programs
    • New bridging options for college diploma graduates
    • 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, cooperative education, 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
    • The creation, deletion, or re-naming of a Type 1 Graduate Diploma
    • The creation, deletion, or re-naming of a field in a graduate Program
    • The creation, deletion, or re-naming of a specialization or minor
    • Changes to the requirements for graduate program candidacy examinations, field studies, or residency requirements
    • Changes to courses, including changing the mode of delivery, comprising a significant (i.e., one-third or more) proportion of the Program
    • Other changes to program content that affect the learning outcomes, but do not meet the threshold of a ‘new Program’
    • Substantive changes to the Program learning outcomes, which may include those completed as a result of a cyclical review
    • Changes to the Faculty delivering the Program that alter the areas of research and teaching interests (e.g. a large proportion of the faculty retires; new hires)
    • A change in the language of Program delivery
    • The establishment of an existing 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

      Program modifications that will result in a more substantial change to its nature and content will require review and approval in accordance with the New Program Procedure. The final determination of whether a Program modification constitutes a significant change or a new Program will rest with the Provost. The Quality Council has final authority to decide if a Major Program Modification constitutes a new program and, therefore, must follow the New Program Procedures.

  2. Major Program Modifications will include full electronic proposals and must include evidence that appropriate consultation has taken place. Once proposals are approved by Faculty Council, they will be subject to review by the appropriate standing committee of Academic Council (USC or GSC). The standing committee will submit its recommendation for approval to the Executive Committee of Academic Council, and subsequently to the Academic Council for final review and approval. Major Program Modifications are reported annually to the Quality Council.

    1. To be included in the academic calendars for the subsequent academic year, Major Program Modifications must be received by USC/GSC no later than the last working day in December.

  3. Major Program Modification electronic proposals must minimally include the following:

    1. A brief background on the existing program and rationale for the modification, including any consideration of the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization.

    2. Overview of the modification, indicating the opportunities for graduates and evidence of fit with the mission, mandate and strategic plans of the University and the Faculty Description of how the new program component fits into the broader array of Program offerings, particularly areas of teaching and research strengths and complementary areas of study.

    3. A fully developed section outlining: new or modified program learning outcomes; the alignment of the change with the program learning outcomes and the provincial degree level expectations; admission requirements; program structure Calendar copy and program maps, where relevant, for the new program component showing courses and/or research components offered each semester and indicating courses currently offered, new courses, and required courses provided by other units; the impact the modification/new component has on students and how it will improve the student experience; any experiential or other applied learning opportunities that are part of the new program component; and program content including course outlines, descriptions, modes of delivery and teaching methods, and assessment with a linkage between the course learning outcomes and the program learning outcomes.

    4. A list of required faculty members, including current core faculty and required new faculty; additional academic and non-academic human resources that may be required to launch and maintain the modifications; physical resource requirements, with how current facilities will be used and what, if any, new resources may be required; and for graduate Programs, any student support (funding) requirements.

    5. An outline of areas consulted, which must include an account of mandatory feedback from students and recent graduates, and the process of consultation regarding Indigenous content, where appropriate.

    6. A summary statement of funding required to support the Program and a statement of current resource availability.

    7. When changing the mode of delivery to online/hybrid for all or a significant portion of a program, the following must also be addressed:

      • Describe the adequacy of the technological platform to be used for online delivery
      • Describe how the quality of education will be maintained
      • Describe how the program objectives will be met
      • Describe how the program learning outcomes will be met
      • Describe the support services and training for teaching staff that will be made available
      • Describe the sufficiency and type of supports that will be available to students

Admissions Changes

  1. Changes to admission requirements will proceed through the governance structure to various levels of approval based on the nature and impact of the change.

    1. Changes to admission requirements at the University level require final approval by Academic Council following recommendation by the USC/GSC.

    2. Changes to admission requirements at the Faculty level require approval by the USC/GSC and are reported for information to Academic Council.

    3. Changes to admission requirements at the individual program level are reported to the USC/GSC for information following approval by Faculty Council(s).

      All decisions concerning admissions made within the scope of existing requirements are considered administrative decisions and can be approved by the Registrar or designate.

Quality Council Cyclical Audit

In accordance with the Quality Assurance Framework, curricular changes as outlined in these Procedures are not normally subject to the University’s Cyclical Audit.

Monitoring and review

This procedure will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years. The Provost’s Office, through the Center for Institutional Quality Enhancement coordinates the day to day management of the quality assurance process, and works in collaboration with Deans and units to implement the procedures for developing and accessing academic programs. The Provost or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review this Policy.

Relevant legislation

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Related policies, procedures & documents

Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance - Quality Assurance Framework

Institutional Quality Assurance Policy

Program Nomenclature Directives

Protocols associated with consultation/development of Indigenous curriculum

Protocols associated with the development of Micro-credentials