Recognition of Degree

PDAD&C #29, 2006-07


From: Vivek Goel, Vice-President and Provost
Date:  November 30, 2006
Re:  Recognition of Degree-level Studies at Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions

Historically, Canadian undergraduate baccalaureate degrees have been awarded only by public universities under the auspices of legislation in each of the ten provinces and three territories; the term “university” has been strictly controlled. 

In recent years, increased demand for qualifications in many specialized professions coupled with increased student interest in access to degree completion opportunities have led to provincial-level approval of baccalaureate and applied degrees in non-traditional settings.  Four provinces – Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Ontario – have exercised their provincial authority, each in different ways and with different sets of institutions.  This has created confusion about how students with the new degrees applying to second-entry professional and graduate programs should be assessed.

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) has been developing a Statement on Advanced Studies at Ontario Universities.  Although that statement has not yet received final approval, we need to clarify our own position for the benefit of graduate and professional-faculty admissions committees who will very soon be beginning to make decisions for 2007-08. The essential message is that, while each provincially-assisted Ontario university is autonomous and determines its own admission requirements, universities neither include nor exclude applicants categorically on the basis of the source of their undergraduate credentials.  Each applicant is considered on his or her own merits according to standards set by each institution, program by program.

In assessing applicants who have Canadian undergraduate degrees, we evaluate the candidate, not the institution, provided that the institution has approval from the relevant province to grant the particular degree presented.  We recognize that this position will impact not only on admission consideration for entry to graduate and professional-faculty programs, but also on transfer credit assessment practices at the undergraduate level.

Questions about whether specific Canadian universities, colleges, polytechnics, or university-colleges have provincial-level approval to grant degrees may be directed to the University Registrar, Karel Swift ( As the School of Graduate Studies has oversight for graduate admission standards, graduate departments are encouraged to contact the SGS Director of Student Services, Heather Kelly (