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Cyclical Program Review Procedures

Classification number ACD 1501.02
Parent policy Institutional Quality Assurance Process Policy
Framework category Academic
Approving authority Academic Council
Policy owner Vice-President, Academic and Provost
Approval date June 23, 2020
Review date June 2023
Supersedes ACD 1501 Program Quality Assurance Policy (June 2010); Quality Assurance Handbook (June 2011)


The purpose of these Procedures is to set out the process for conducting a cyclical review of existing degree and diploma programs to ensure that they continue to meet provincial quality assurance requirements and to support their ongoing rigour and coherence. All programs are reviewed at least once every 8 years.


For the purposes of these Procedures the following definitions apply:

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

“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)

“Degree”: An academic credential awarded upon successful completion of a prescribed set and sequence of requirements as specified by a program and that meet a standard of performance consistent with University and provincial degree level expectations

“Diploma”: An academic credential awarded upon the successful completion of a prescribed set of degree credit courses as specified by a program. Diplomas are classified as concurrent and/or direct-entry

“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

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

“Ministry”: the Ontario Ministry governing the affairs of Colleges and Universities.

“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.  

“Resource Committee”: the university Academic Resource Committee or equivalent university body

“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 existing undergraduate and graduate degree and diploma programs whether offered in full, in part, or conjointly by any institutions federated or affiliated with the university. It also applies to new degree programs offered in partnership, collaboration or other such arrangement with other post-secondary institutions including colleges, universities or other institutes.

For those programs that are offered in more than one mode, at different locations, or having complementary components (e.g., bridging options, experiential education options, etc.), the distinct versions of the program will be identified and reviewed.

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


Procedures for program reviews involve six components: the review and enhancement of program learning outcomes; the development a self-study brief by the program under review; external evaluation to provide recommendations on program quality improvement; internal response to review and recommendations; preparation and approval of a final assessment report and implementation plan; and subsequent reporting on the implementation of recommendations. Individuals may use the templates provided at as a guide to assist in the planning and implementation of the components of the cyclical review.

Review and Enhancement of Program Learning Outcomes

The IAT chair, in consultation with the IAT, will review and enhance the program learning outcomes, and map them to the degree level expectations (either undergraduate or graduate) set out by the Ministry.

  1. The IAT will be required to participate in program learning outcome enhancement sessions where they will review and revise their program learning outcomes. These revisions will lay the groundwork for the program for the upcoming seven years.
  2.  With assistance from CIQE staff, the IAT will map these revised program-learning outcomes to the appropriate degree level expectations (DLEs).
  3.  After the map to the degree level expectations is complete, the IAT will map their current course offerings to the revised program learning outcomes and analyze the results
  4. The revised program learning outcomes and DLE map, once approved by the IAT, will be an appendix to the self-study document. 

Self-Study Briefs

The self-study brief will form the basis of the program review and must clearly set out the indicators of program quality, as outlined in the Evaluation Criteria, against which the program is to be assessed.  The brief may also identify specific aspects of the program on which feedback is sought. A template for the proposal will be provided through the Centre for Institutional Quality Enhancement via the website at

  1. Self-study briefs for each program under review must be prepared and reviewed by a Program Review Internal Assessment Team (IAT).
  2. The IAT is comprised of faculty, staff and students (current or recent graduate of the program) and appointed by the Faculty Dean.
  3. The IAT will work in collaboration with the Centre for Institutional Quality Enhancement (CIQE) to pull together key institutional data and other indicators of program quality that will inform the self-study.
  4. The brief should be broad-based, reflective and forward-looking and should demonstrate how the program advances the University’s mission.
  5. The brief must also present evidence to support an assessment of the program requirements, program learning outcomes and degree level expectations, along with the human and physical resources involved.
  6. The brief should address any concerns and recommendations raised in previous reviews.
  7. The brief will also identify specific aspects of the program on which feedback is sought, areas requiring improvement and those that hold promise for enhancement, as well as academic services that directly contribute to the academic quality of the program.
  8. Upon its completion, the Faculty, and the Dean, will review the self-study brief to ensure that it presents the full range of evidence to support an assessment of program quality.  The Dean may also highlight any areas of opportunity or institutional constraints that may need to be taken into account as part of the review.

External Review and Reporting

  1. The Dean, in consultation with the IAT, will recommend to the Provost, at least 5 faculty members to serve as external reviewers of the program.
    1. Reviewers must be tenured or equivalent, be active and respected in their field, have program management experience, and be at arm’s length from the program under review.
    2. For undergraduate programs, two reviewers are required, with both being external to the university. At least one of the reviewers must currently be at a Canadian post-secondary institution.
    3. For graduate programs, three reviewers are required, with all three being external to the university. At least one of the reviewers must currently be at a Canadian post-secondary institution.
    4. For each External reviewer candidate, the recommendation must be accompanied by a rationale for the selection and a detailed biographical statement that outlines their academic expertise, administrative experience, accomplishments, and research.
    5. External reviewer forms are sent to CIQE to be reviewed and approved by the Provost. CIQE will contact approved reviewers to maintain arms-length process.
  2. CIQE, in consultation with the Faculty, will organize a site visit to provide an opportunity for the reviewers to assess the standards and quality of the program and to prepare a report that addresses the University’s program quality review Evaluation Criteria.
    1. In advance of the visit, CIQE will send to the reviewers the unit’s self-study brief, a cover letter by the Dean, along with any additional material or information that may be needed to inform the assessment.
    2.  On the first morning of the site visit, reviewers will have an opportunity to meet with the Provost, or designate, who will brief them on their roles and obligations as a reviewer.
    3.  During the site visit, reviewers will have an opportunity to meet with the IAT, and with other faculty, students, staff, senior academic administrators, and any others who can most appropriately provide informed comment, to discuss aspects of the self-study in the context of the program quality review criteria.
    4.  Reviewers will be required to respect the confidentiality of all aspects of the process and recognize the institution’s autonomy to determine priorities for funding, space and faculty allocation.
  3. Reviewers will submit a report to the Dean, which addresses the substance of the self-study and the program quality review Evaluation Criteria. A template for the report will be provided by CIQE.
    1. Normally, the report will be prepared jointly by the reviewers.
    2. Reviewers will be invited to acknowledge any clearly innovative aspects of the program together with recommendations on specific steps to be taken to improve the program, distinguishing between those the program can itself take, and those that require external action.
    3. Normally, the report will be completed within 30 days of the site visit.
    4. The Office of the Provost, through the Resource Committee, will review the report to ensure it meets the requirements stated in Article 8.3. Upon submission of the report, if additional details or clarification are needed from the reviewers, CIQE will reach out to the reviewers to request this in a revised report.

Response to Report

  1. Upon receipt of the reviewers’ report(s), the Dean and the IAT will consider its recommendations, including consideration of any financial or other resource implications.  
    1. The Program Chair, in consultation with the IAT, will prepare and send to the Dean a response to the report that will include a summary of the program strengths, opportunities for improvement and a response to the recommendations put forward by the reviewers. A template for the response will be provided through CIQE.
    2. Using the Program Chair’s response report as a guideline, the Dean, working with the Office of the Provost , will prepare a plan of action for implementation that will include a separate response to the recommendations, a detailed description of the proposed action, timeline for acting on and monitoring the implementation of the recommendations, persons/area responsible for acting on the recommendations.
    3. This report will be reviewed by the Provost, through the Resource Committee, to examine resource implications and allocations before review by USC/GSC. The Resource Committee will create a summary report of its review.

Approval Process

  1. The Provost will then present the self-study brief, together with the reviewers’ report(s), the Dean’s and IAT’s response, and the Resource Committee’s summary report to the appropriate standing committee of Academic Council (USC or GSC).
    1. In those cases where the program review cycle includes both undergraduate and graduate programs, separate reviews will be conducted and reports will be submitted to the USC and GSC concerning the reviews relevant to the mandate of each committee.
    2. It is expected that these reports and recommendations will be afforded an appropriate level of confidentiality.
  2. The appropriate standing committee of Academic Council (USC or GSC) will examine the outcomes of the review and prepare a Final Assessment Report (FAR).
    1. The FAR will synthesise the reports and recommendations resulting from the review, identifies the strengths of the program as well as the opportunities for program improvement and enhancement, and outlines the agreed-upon implementation plans for this improvement.
    2. The FAR must also be accompanied by an Executive Summary of the outcomes of the review and associated implementation plan, exclusive of confidential information, that is suitable for publication.
    3. Upon review, the Office of the Provost will approve the recommendations set out in the FAR’s implementation plan.
  3. The Final Assessment Reports will be sent to Academic Council and the Board of Governors for information, and sent to the Quality Council as required under the Quality Assurance Framework. The summary reports are then posted on the Ontario Tech corporate website.

Subsequent Reporting and Monitoring of the Implementation of Recommendations

  1. Eighteen months following the completion of the review, the Office of the Provost will request from the Dean a brief follow up report that outlines the progress that has been made in implementing the agreed upon plans for improvement. The report will be sent to the Resource Committee for review.
  2. If outstanding items remain from the implementation plan at the time of the eighteen-month report, the Resource Committee will review these outstanding items with the Dean. The Committee may recommend further monitoring of these items on a case-by-case basis.
  3. A summary of the progress report will be approved by the appropriate standing committee of Academic Council (USC or GSC).
  4. A summary of the progress report will be included in the reporting to Academic Council on program reviews.
  5. The summary report is then posted on the Ontario Tech corporate website.

Review of Joint or Collaborative Programs

  1. Joint programs, and other programs offered in collaboration with other post-secondary institutions, will ensure that the required quality assurance requirements of both institutions are met. 
  2. When the program is held jointly with an institution that does not have an IQAP that has been ratified by the Quality Council, the Ontario Tech IQAP Policy and associated Procedures will apply with Ontario Tech as the leading institution.
  3. In cases where the program is held jointly with an institution that does have an IQAP ratified by the Quality Council, the Office of the Provost, through CIQE, will collaborate with the partner institution to develop a process and associated templates that will address all requirements of each institution’s IQAP. Specifically, the collaboration will address:
    1. The selection of external reviewers
    2. Templates to be used for a single self-study and required reports from the external reviewers, program team, and Dean(s)
    3. The location(s) or the site visit(s), timing for program review, and subsequent reporting
    4. The development of a joint committee to review the program
    5. The process for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of recommendations after the review
    6. The lead institution for the purposes of submission to the Quality Council

Monitoring and review

These procedures will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years. The Office of the Provost, 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

Academic Resource Committee Terms of Reference

Program Nomenclature Directives

Protocols associated with consultation/development of Indigenous curriculum