Program Curriculum Policy

Policy Number: AS-2004-2007
Policy Title: Program Curriculum Policy
Policy Owner: Vice President Academic
Effective Date: May 14, 2007
Last Revised: March 28, 2024

On this page:

  1. Purpose
  2. Application and Scope
  3. Definitions
  4. Principles
  5. Accountability and Compliance
  6. Rules
  7. Policy Revision Date
  8. Attachments
  1. Specific Links

1. Purpose

This policy presents a framework for the creation, approval, maintenance, storage, retrieval and distribution of program information relative to all programs and courses offered by Mohawk College.

2. Application and Scope

This policy applies to all Ontario credentials offered by Mohawk College with the exception of collaborative programs. Collaborative program information may be presented in an alternative form that meets the requirements of the partner institution.

3. Definitions

“Course Outline” is a contract between the college and the student that provides information on a unit of curriculum presented by the College as a learning experience. A course outline provides a description of the course, program and course learning outcomes to be achieved, assessments, content, learning resources, and Experiential Learning opportunities. Course Outlines are developed in the Course Outline Mapping and Management System (COMMS) and shared with students by the faculty within the Learning Management System (LMS) or in hardcopy.

“Curriculum Map(s)” are a tool that shows how learning outcomes are aligned across the program and lead to the achievement of Ministry approved program standards or descriptions.

“Learning Plan” accompanies the course outline and provides details of the course schedule, weekly topics, learner activities and assessment techniques aligned to the course learning outcomes. It includes information about how Universal Design for Learning has been integrated into the course delivery and assessments.

“Program Description” can be used in place of program standards, when they do not exist, for the development of a new program. Program descriptions allow for more flexibility around the vocational learning outcomes component while keeping within the guidelines of the program description. When using a program description, developing and updating vocational leaning outcomes takes place in consultation with the Credential Validation Service prior to submission for Ministry approval. 

“Program Standard” is a document produced by the Ministry of Colleges, and Universities (MCU) that sets out the essential learning that a student must achieve before being deemed ready to graduate. A program standard applies to all programs of instruction in an identified category regardless of the funding source and, for most programs, consists of a vocational standard, an essential employability skills standard, and general education requirements. Prior to graduation, students must achieve all three parts of the program standard. 

“Program Standards Renewal” is a regularly scheduled process initiated by MCU, through which approved program standards are reviewed and updated, based on input from employers and representatives from colleges which offer the respective program under review. 

“Program of Studies” is a list of all the required courses to earn the credential for the program that also identifies course equivalencies and prerequisites. 

“Program Vocational Learning Outcomes (PVLOs)” are approved by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and describe the essential learning required for the completion of all Ontario credentials. PVLOs may be in the form of a Program Standard or a Program Description.

“Universal Design for Learning (UDL)” is a curriculum design, development, and delivery framework used to create equitable, inclusive and accessible learning environments. The goal of UDL is to support creating masterful learners who are purposeful, motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic, and goal-directed. 

4. Principles

  • Program Information, including Program Vocational Learning Outcomes, Programs of Study, Course Outlines, Learning Plans, Curriculum Maps and Admission Requirements, are recognized as critical tools within the quality framework for college programming, ensuring that staff, faculty and students are provided with a relevant overview of the learning to be achieved within specific programs and courses.
  • All Ontario College credentialed programs offered by the College will conform to the Minister’s Binding Policy Directive Framework for Programs of Instruction, the Ontario College Quality Assurance Service Credentials Framework, college system standards and programming principles, Postsecondary Educational Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB), and external accrediting bodies where applicable.
  • Programs developed and delivered by the College will maintain consistency with published Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) program standards and titling principles where they exist.

    Program Information, including Program Vocational Learning Outcomes, Programs of Study, Course Outlines, Learning Plans, Curriculum Maps and Admission Requirements, are considered as contractual agreements between the college and the student, and the college and faculty, that provides information on specific programs and courses presented by the College as a learning experience.

  • Programs will be aligned with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to create equitable, inclusive and accessible learning environments for all learners. 

5. Accountability and Compliance

5.1 Accountability Framework

This policy has been approved by the Senior Leadership Team.

5.2 Compliance

The Vice President, Academic is responsible for monitoring compliance to this policy and updating the policy as required. 

The Dean of Academic Quality and the Academic Quality department are accountable and responsible for overseeing program quality across the College.

Each academic area, including Academic Quality, Deans and Associate Deans, are accountable and responsible for the quality of the curriculum in the area. 

6. Rules

6.1 General Program Information

  • A program information template will be populated for all college programs and will be reviewed on an annual basis and updated as required. This will include, but is not limited to, program title, credential, duration, description, learning outcomes, delivery mode and location(s), general education requirements and work integrated or experiential learning opportunities.
  • The wording of program and course descriptions will adhere to a set of established guidelines as provided in Appendix A.
  • The program information document will be a public document. Program information will be clearly communicated to students.
  • Changes to the program information will be approved at the level and within the timelines identified in Appendix B.

6.2 Program Vocational Learning Outcomes

  • Program Vocational Learning Outcomes will be established for all programs at Mohawk College by approved academic quality processes aligned to the program’s credential. 
  • Program Vocational Learning Outcomes must meet or exceed Program Standards or descriptions approved by MCU. 
  • Changes to program outcomes will be approved at the level and within the timelines identified in Appendix B.
  • A curriculum map that demonstrates alignment between course learning outcomes, program learning outcomes, and program outcomes is documented through the Course Outline Mapping and Management System (COMMS). Curriculum maps will be updated upon the release of updated PVLOs or changes to the program of study.
  • Changes to the learning outcomes are approved at the level and within the timelines identified in Appendix B.
  • Consultation with the Academic Quality department to review changes to outcomes or curriculum mapping is advised.

6.3 Essential Employability Skills and General Education

  • Programs must be designed to include Essential Employability Skills, General Education or Breadth Electives and other required non-vocational components identified in regulatory frameworks. 
  • Each program will enable students to achieve the essential employability skill requirements and the required non-vocational general education or breadth requirements as set in the MCU Framework for Programs of Instruction, PEQAB, and in the college’s General Education Policy.

6.4 Programs of Study

  • Changes to a Program of Studies will be considered according to the three-year cycle as set out in the Program of Studies Policy as determined by the Registrar.
  • Proposed changes to a program of studies must be accompanied by a plan to support current students that are progressing in a non-traditional manner. Typically, this is accomplished by identifying an equivalency.
  • Changes to the program of study will be approved at the level and within the timelines identified in Appendix B.
  • Consultation with the Academic Quality department for Program of Study changes is required to avoid breaches to college policies and provincial directives.

6.5 Course Outlines, Evaluation Plans and Learning Plans

  • A course outline and a learning plan, will be developed and maintained for all courses offered by the college.
  • Faculty are responsible for providing students with current, approved copies of course outlines and learning plans.
  • Faculty are responsible for maintaining current outlines for courses they teach. Appendix D: Course Outline Self-Evaluation Checklist provides a tool to support faculty in this regard.
  • The college is committed to using varied assessments and UDL principles to support student success and program progression.
  • The Course Outline and Learning Plan will:
    • communicate expectations to learners concerning course requirements;
    • articulate the learning to be accomplished in the course, through a set of relevant, performance-based course outcomes; 
    • provide information on how achievement of the learning outcomes will be measured for each component of the course; and 
    • provide a consistent perspective and framework for all faculty members engaged in teaching the course. 
  • Changes to course outlines or learning plans will be approved at the level and within the timelines identified in Appendix B.

6.6 Course Evaluation Plans and Final Grade Calculation

Where the final grade calculation differs from a standard calculation of adding the weighted individual assessments, for example requiring a single or group of assessments such as invigilated tests to meet/exceed a minimum percent threshold in order to pass the course, review and approval of the change with rationale will be secured by the Associate Dean, School Dean, and Dean responsible for Academic Quality.  Variables such, but not limited to, accreditation requirements and learner competencies will be considered in the rationale. See Appendix B. 

7. Policy Revision Date

7.1 Revision Date

March 2029

7.2 Responsibility

This policy will be reviewed and updated every five years or earlier if required.

8. Attachments

9. Specific Links

Appendix A - Guidelines for Writing Program and Course Descriptions

In general, course descriptions: 

  • use present tense
  • use brief, outcomes-based, descriptive phrases that begin with an imperative or active verb (i.e. design, create, plan, experience, etc.)
  • are clear, concise, and easy to understand (recommended length <80 words); keep in mind that prospective students have not yet mastered the field and its vocabulary
  • detail significant learning experiences and benefits students can expect
  • create interest and answer the student’s question, “What’s in it for me?” 

For brevity:

  • use sentence fragments (i.e. if the subject of the first sentence is “this course”, omit the subject)
  • eliminate anything that is obvious, redundant, or unnecessary; for instance, 
  • terms such as "laboratory", "seminar" or "workshop" used in the course title don’t need to be repeated in the description
  • phrases like “this course is design to,” “provides students with knowledge of”, “students will” are implied and, therefore, redundant
  • phrases such as “topics include” and “with emphasis on” unless truly necessary to highlight special areas of importance
    • do not duplicate details from another course in the program of study
  • do not repeat information located in other sections of the course outline (i.e., Pre-requisites, course number, delivery modality)