FAQs About Implementing Changes to Collaborative Program Nomenclature


In October of 2016, the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance (the “Quality Council”) approved a proposal from the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS) to update the nomenclature and definition of Collaborative Program.

The approval was effective immediately, resulting in all offerings of Collaborative Programs across Ontario universities to be known as “Collaborative Specializations.” All offerings will be expected to meet the new definition provided in the Quality Assurance Framework.

The vast majority of U of T’s existing Collaborative Specializations and participating degree programs are already in line with this new definition. If any participating degree programs in your division do not align with this new definition, we will be in touch with you directly.

The Vice-Provost, Academic Programs (VPAP) Office has already updated the SGS Calendar for 2017-18 to reflect the new “Collaborative Specialization” nomenclature.

Guidance on implementing the new definition at the divisional or departmental level is available below. In most cases, implementation is a matter of:

  • updating the terminology in advertising, recruitment and application materials with “Collaborative Specialization” and
  • assuring students who are already in the program that there is no impact on them.

Highlights of the Approved Changes

  • All Collaborative Programs are to be renamed “Collaborative Specializations.”
  • All proposals for a new Collaborative Specialization will be considered major modifications, with final approval at the Faculty Council level. New Collaborative Specializations will not go to Quality Council for expedited approval.
  • The definition has been expanded to require that all Collaborative Specializations have at least one core course. While this was always encouraged, it has now been formalized in the official definition.
  • In any coursework-only master’s program: “at least 30% of the courses must be in the area of specialization including the core course [for the Collaborative Specialization].”

Frequently Asked Questions

These will be updated as more information becomes available.

What if I don’t think this change is a good reflection of my collaborative program? Is there an alternative?

  • This change in nomenclature and definition was approved for all Ontario universities. U of T does not have the option to continue with the previous nomenclature and definition.

Can current students choose to be awarded either a collaborative program or collaborative specialization? What will appear on the transcript?

  • The default will be that anyone entering prior to 2017-18 (i.e., those admitted to and registered in collaborative programs on August 31, 2017 and prior) will have “Collaborative Program” on their transcript, SGS certificate of completion, etc.
  • Anyone entering on September 1, 2017-18 (i.e., those for whom the 2017-18 calendar applies) will have “Collaborative Specialization” on the transcript.

Will some collaborative specializations and participating degree programs be more affected than others by the new requirements?

  • Yes. Participating degree programs that are coursework only will likely have to make some changes in order to align with the requirement to have 30% coursework in the area of specialization. Participating degree programs that involve a thesis or major research paper are unlikely to have any issues aligning with the new requirements.

What do I do if I think that my participating degree program does not match the new Collaborative Specializations definition with respect to 30% coursework in the area of specialization?

  • The VPAP Office has a list of participating degree programs that are out of alignment with this new requirement. We will be in touch directly with the Dean’s Office responsible for each of these programs to work out an appropriate solution to bringing these into alignment.

If I need to make changes to bring my participating degree program into alignment, can I make changes effective for 2017-18?

  • Yes, if you can complete any required governance in time to meet the regular March 31, 2017 SGS Calendar deadline. However, in order to come up with the most suitable solution, it may make sense to move more slowly and approve changes to be effective for 2018-19.

I see that the new requirements include the need for “Clear and explicit requirements for each Collaborative Specialization.” For coursework-only programs, won’t this require changes to calendar entries?

  • In at least some entries, the answer is probably yes. For 2017-18, the VPAP Office has simply updated the Collaborative Specialization entries to reflect the new nomenclature. The VPAP Office will consider the most efficient way to make requirements “clear and explicit” for coursework-only programs in time for 2018-19, and will contact the owners of any affected entries directly to discuss possibilities.

What do I need to do in my department?

  • Please update all advertising, recruitment and application materials with “Collaborative Specialization.”

What about Memorandums of Agreement?

  • Memorandums of Agreement are updated following completion of the UTQAP review process for Collaborative Specializations. The new MOA template reflects the new nomenclature. No change to previously signed MOAs is needed.

How are new Collaborative Specializations approved?

  • Through the major modification process. A consultation meeting is required as was previously the practice, prior to developing a proposal for a new Collaborative Specialization.

Do you have suggestions for communicating the changes to others in our division or department?

  • Yes, this might go for information to your graduate curriculum committee, department meeting, etc.

Are there any changes to the review processes under the new nomenclature?

Will the UTQAP be updated to reflect the new nomenclature?

Won’t this require a lot of new POSt codes?


Overview of collaborative specializations


Erin Meyers
Acting Assistant Coordinator, Academic Change

Alexandra Varela (on secondment until June 2023)
Assistant Coordinator, Academic Change