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Program Proposals

Academic Approval Process

Academic programing is the number one factor affecting students’ choice of university. Dalhousie’s mission and vision and the associated strategic priorities (numbers 1.4, 1.5 and 2.4) speak to the need to foster and support innovation in program development and excellence in teaching and pedagogy, to foster undergraduate research, and to enhance the effectiveness and student focus of our program offerings.

If our enrolment is to remain strong, and if we are to have the reputation and impact we desire nationally and globally, it will be, in large part, because we offer programs of exceptional quality, that excel in meeting student and community learning needs. One key element in academic programming is the ability to have a dynamic and efficient program approval process, which is outlined in the University Academic Program Proposal Approval Process chart. The timeline for completion of program proposals is contingent on early discussion with the contacts noted in the sidebar.

The four categories for program proposal approval are:

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) has a mandate to ensure quality assurance and assessment of university-level academic programs prior to implementation, as outlined in Academic Program Assessment Prior to Implementation.

The MPHEC defines the scope, objective and outcomes of the Program Assessment Process as:


Universities are required to submit, prior to implementation, a proposal for any new, modified or terminated university-level program (which includes degrees, diplomas and certificates) that meets any of the following criteria:

  • leads to an exit credential; or
  • is the equivalent of 30 credits (or one full year) or more of study at the undergraduate level (regardless of whether it leads to an exit credential); or
  • is a type to be tracked as per the MPHEC decision (which may change from time to time)

Objective and Outcomes of the Program Assessment Process

The overall objective of the program assessment process is to ascertain the suitability of a program in light of its objectives, structure, content, resources, and stated student outcomes and their relevance, through, as required, an iterative process.

The program assessment process has two main outcomes:

  • To provide third-party validation that programs meet pre-determined standards of quality, and
  • To improve, as required, the quality of academic programs.

The program assessment process is most directly linked to the MPHEC’s quality assurance function; however, it also feeds into other duties of the MPHEC, including: data and information, cooperative action and province-specific services. For example, information gathered through the program assessment process is integrated with enrolment data within the Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS) which allows the MPHEC to produce audited enrolment counts for publication and for calculating province-specific funding formulae. These data are also used in the application of the Regional Transfer Arrangement and have been a source of information for the MPHEC assessments of institutions’ quality assurance monitoring policies and procedures.