Guidelines for Continuing, Professional and Executive Education

January 29, 2016. Updated in 2022.

1 Context

The University of Toronto in its Statement of Institutional Purpose, under Life-Long Learning, states:

”The University wishes to encourage learning as a life-long activity, and is committed to:

  • providing to persons in professional practice and to members of the community at large opportunities to study and to use its facilities;
  • helping other institutions, professional organizations and learned societies through the provision of facilities and expertise.”

2 Scope and Objective

It is the objective of these Guidelines to provide a framework for divisions to ensure that continuing, professional and executive education programming is offered in a manner consistent with the standards of excellence that govern the University’s programs and is in compliance with the Statement of Policy on Continuing Education.

Further, the Guidelines are designed to assist divisions to differentiate between the types of not-for-credit programming offered and to develop an approval and reporting mechanism for Category 3 Certificates at the divisional level that complies with the reporting obligations as defined by the Policy on Certificates (For-Credit and Not-for-Credit) and referred to in the Approvals section of these Guidelines.

3 Relevant Policies

The Statement of Policy on Continuing Education (November 15, 1988) applies to not-for-credit programming at the University of Toronto. This Policy emphasizes that the quality and level of these activities should be consistent with the University’s general objectives and meet the same standards of excellence.

The Policy on Certificates (For-Credit and Not-for-Credit) (February 25, 2016) provides guidance for distinguishing between a not-for-credit certificate program (Category 3 Certificate) and certificates of completion or attendance for recognition of other continuing education activities (for example, attendance at a workshop) that do not require a governance pathway.

The Policy on Approval and Execution of Contracts and Documents (November 17, 2008) governs all contracts at the University. The draft Provostial Guideline for Academic Divisions on Contracts provides guidance on agreements involving academic units, including contracts relating to continuing, professional and executive education.

The Guidelines on Divisional Academic Planning (January 2015) include provisions for divisions to consider continuing education programming in developing academic plans. Any continuing education offering should be in alignment with the divisional academic plan and requires decanal oversight.

4 Types of Activities

Divisions may offer a not-for-credit Category 3 Certificate as defined by the Policy on Certificates (For-Credit and Not-for-Credit). This certificate will comprise a coherent sequence of courses and must comply with the parameters and governance approvals established by the Policy. The certificate awarded must clearly stipulate that it is not-for-credit and can be referred to as a Not-for-Credit Certificate, a Certificate in Continuing Studies/Education or a Certificate in Professional/Executive Development.

In addition, there is a variety of non-certificate activities under the continuing, professional and executive education umbrella, which includes:

  • courses
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • externships

Most divisions offer one or more of the above activities. In the Policy on Certificates (For-Credit and Not-for-Credit), under Other Certificates, divisions may award “certificates of completion” or “certificates of attendance” to participants demonstrating the completion of these types of activities. These “certificates” must be awarded by the division or their continuing education office and clearly state the activity being offered, specify the length of the activity and if the activity involved the passing of an examination.

5 Approvals

All continuing, professional and executive education activities offered in a division must be offered with the knowledge and approval of the Dean.

Under the Policy on Certificates (For-Credit and Not-for-Credit), Category 3 Certificates must be approved according to established divisional protocol and submitted to the Provost’s Office for inclusion in an annual report to the Committee on Academic Policy & Programs.

Divisions should also determine a process for approval and notification for noncertificate activities to ensure they comply with the strategic direction of the division, and are reviewed periodically by the Dean.

5.1 Collaborations With External Organizations

Continuing education activities offered by divisions may from time to time involve collaboration with external organizations, such as other post-secondary institutions, affiliated and unaffiliated hospitals and health-care institutions, industry, regulatory bodies, governments and governmental agencies, etc.1

Divisions may customize activities to ensure that the design and content match the needs of the external organization, provided that the activity remains in accordance with University and divisional policies and practices. All such customized activities require decanal approval. Please note, Provostial approval of the underlying contract associated with the activity may be required (see section 10).

An additional type of collaboration includes activities that are jointly offered by a division with any external organization. This type of collaboration requires the approval of the Provost (or Provost’s designate). Attached to these Guidelines as Appendix A is a checklist that the Provost’s office recommends divisions follow when considering a third-party collaborative continuing education activity. This checklist should be submitted to the Provost’s office when submitting the request for approval for the external collaboration.

1 Massive open online course (MOOCs) undergo a separate process that requires Provostial approval.

5.2 Activities With an International Component

The Office of International Relations works with divisions to give advice on international activities and institutional priorities. Research and education collaborations with international organizations cover a wide range of activities from student and faculty exchanges to customized continuing, professional and executive education programming. When considering these types of activities, divisions should follow the protocol that is used for collaborations with external organizations. It is important that divisions consult with the Office of International Relations prior to engaging in discussions regarding an activity with an international component.

Further information on international collaborations and the various types of international activities can be found in International Collaborations at the University of Toronto and the International Agreements Process.

6 Costing and Funding of Activities

The Statement of Policy on Continuing Education states that “continuing education activity within the University should be conducted on an income/expense recovery basis.”

Appendix B outlines the suggested approach to assist divisions in ensuring that all aspects of continuing education activities are fully accounted for in their costing and budgeting. The Planning and Budget office has also developed a template to assist divisions in budget planning. The template should be used in conjunction with Appendix B. It can be accessed through the University Portal in “Planning & Budget Documents” under “Divisional Budget Planning” or by contacting Planning and Budget.

Divisions should remember that if purchase of equipment, facilities, services, software or disposable items is required, the University’s Procurement Policy and guidelines need to be followed where applicable. Assistance with procurement issues can be obtained at Procurement Services.

7 Faculty Teaching in Continuing, Professional and Executive Education

Teaching in continuing, professional and executive education programming is normally considered to be outside of assigned workload. Where faculty members are assigned to teach in this area as part of their regular teaching load, units and divisions should ensure that they are in compliance with relevant policies including the Statement of Policy on Continuing Education, which states that: “Continuing education activity in the academic divisions, when undertaken as part of a regular teaching load, should be taken into full account as one factor in considerations of promotion, merit pay and tenure decisions.”

Other relevant policies include the University of Toronto Workload Policy and Procedures for Faculty and Librarians, Unit Workload policies, the Statement on Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment, and the Policy on Conflict of Interest — Academic Staff.

8 Registration

Where possible, divisions should use the terminology “learners” or “participants” as opposed to “students” in continuing, professional and executive education programming. This terminology provides a distinction between a University of Toronto student who is enrolled in for-credit programming and has access to student services, and those enrolled in not-for-credit activity who do not. “Learners” or “participants” in not-for-credit activity should not be treated in any way that might convey the impression to them or others that they are University of Toronto students.

Divisions should be aware that under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), if notification of need is given, educational or training resources or materials are to be provided in an accessible format. Get more information on accessibility and all other elements of the AODA. For advice regarding the accommodation process, please contact Accessibility Services.

If the division is providing a certificate or certificate of completion or attendance for the activity in compliance with the Policy on Certificates (For Credit and Not-for-Credit), registration must be coordinated by the division, and payment of registration fees should be made directly to the division.

9 University and/or Divisional Logo Usage

Continuing, professional and executive education activities operate at the divisional level. Divisions must use their own signatures to promote their activities. Use of the divisional logo requires decanal approval and should be in alignment with the Visual Identity Guidelines.

In the unusual circumstance that the University of Toronto logo is used in connection with continuing, professional or executive education, prior approval must be obtained from the Office of the Vice-President and Provost.

For branding on pens, shirts, buttons and similar items, please contact the Trademark Licensing Office.

10 Contracts

All contracts and agreements at the University are governed by the Policy on Approval and Execution of Contracts and Documents and the Provostial Guideline for Academic Divisions on Contracts.

Many of the details associated with continuing, professional and executive education activities are ultimately captured in one or more contracts or agreements (for example, instructor contracts, service contracts, facilities agreements, etc.). Please note that approval requirements for contracts may differ from the approval process identified above.

Please contact the relevant Dean’s office in order to ensure contracts and agreements are developed in compliance with University policies and guidelines. The Assistant Provost can offer guidance to Dean’s offices as needed.

Appendix A: Collaborations With External Organizations — Checklist

Download the checklist (PDF).

Appendix B: Costing and Funding of Continuing, Professional and Executive Education Activities


The Statement of Policy on Continuing Education states that “continuing education activity within the University should be conducted on an income/expense recovery basis.” In other words, revenues from continuing, professional or executive education courses or programs (hereafter referred to as “CE programs” for simplicity) are expected to cover all costs. It is recognized that divisions may choose to subsidize a new program on a transitional basis; however, it is critical that this decision be made in the context of full financial information.

In the past, financial planning for CE programs has often taken only direct costs into account, leaving out consideration of indirect costs. With the introduction of the University of Toronto Budget Model in 2006-07, it is now possible for divisions or continuing education directors to assess the full cost of a program using data available from the budget model.

Costs associated with offering a CE program are incurred at the:

  • University level
  • divisional level
  • program level

These costs should be fully measured when a budget is developed for a new program or reviewed for an existing program. CE directors should consult with their divisional Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) when designing new programs, as CAOs are able to advise on how these costs will impact the budget for a new program.

Costs at the University level include the University Fund charge and a division’s share of University-wide costs (UWC) such as space and University information technology (IT), human resources (HR) and finance services. Costs at the divisional level include the Dean’s Office, the CE director’s office, divisional HR, finance, IT, student services and so on. Costs at the program level include program design costs, direct teaching costs, administrative staff costs, supplies and equipment, marketing costs and so on.

Most costs are fundamentally based on enrolment (number of learners or participants), number of instructors and staff and space utilized for teaching. While some costs vary on a per-learner basis (for example, supplies and materials), others are fixed at the course or program level (for example, marketing, program development). Space can be measured based on the number of hours a classroom is used and a standard university rate.

The Planning and Budget office has also developed a template to assist divisions in budget planning. The template should be used in conjunction with this appendix. It can be accessed through the Planning and Budget SharePoint site (password protected) in “General Documents” under “Academic Budget Planning Tools” or by contacting Planning and Budget.

Methodology for Assessing the Full Costs of a Continuing Education Program

The University Fund

Divisional revenues earned from teaching activities are subject to a 14% contribution to the University Fund, which supports the institutional academic priorities of the University. “Teaching activities” include activities such as continuing, professional and executive education, as well as any other for-credit and not-for credit certificate or non-traditional teaching activities. The specific activities to be included in the revenue base will be defined for each division in consultation with divisions.

University-Wide Costs (UWC)

The purpose of the University’s expense attribution model is to allocate to divisions the central expenses incurred on behalf of different units across the University. The operating budget groups these expenses according to the University’s administrative structure; that is, by division or department. For the purpose of expense attribution, the budget model groups these expenses in terms of function.

Central expenses are organized in functional groupings, or expense bins, as follows:

  1. Occupancy Costs
  2. Information Technology
  3. University Management
  4. Financial Management
  5. Human Resources
  6. Pension Amortization
  7. University Advancement
  8. Library
  9. Research Administration
  10. Student Recruitment and Registrarial Services
  11. University-Wide Academic Funds
  12. University-Wide General Expenses

While all 12 UWC bins should be considered in fully costing a CE program, those most likely to be applicable to CE activities include cost bins 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

The following questions are suggested as a way to think about the full, often unseen, costs of offering a program.

  • What space is used to deliver the program: offices, classrooms, labs?
  • Are learners registered on ROSI?
  • Do learners have access to Quercus?
  • What other institutional IT systems are used to support the learners, the instructors and the staff?
  • How many instructors and staff are appointed University employees? These staff draw on institutional HR services.
  • Do instructors or learners have access to the University library system?

The costing template is designed to assist in assessing the level of UWC applicable to a particular CE program.

Divisional Costs

The division should also consider which divisional budget costs should be charged to a CE program, including costs such as:

  • The Dean’s office (a portion of compensation and other costs)
  • The continuing education director’s office (a portion of compensation and other costs)
  • Division-level IT, HR, finance, student services, registrarial, other administration

The costing template is designed to assist in assessing the level of divisional cost applicable to a particular CE program.

Program Costs

Program costs include the program or course development costs, the teaching costs and the other types of administrative costs directly related to a program, such as marketing, supplies and equipment, any external legal advice and administrative support staff.

The costing template is designed to assist in assessing the level of divisional cost applicable to a particular CE program.