Guidelines for the Distance Delivery of Graduate Programs

At their January 1993 meeting, the Western Canadian Deans of Graduate Studies recognized the growing demand for distance delivery graduate program offered in a combination of modes, including on-site, on-campus and technologically mediated instruction. They offer their support for innovative programs that demonstrate high quality, provide students with genuine professional development and lead to opportunities for further study.The Deans caution, however, that unless such programs are properly organized and delivered, they could seriously compromise the integrity and reputation enjoyed by existing on-campus graduate degree programs in Western Canada. To minimize this risk, the Deans endorse the general principle that distance graduate programs must meet the same standards of quality that are expected of equivalent programs offered on-campus.

In order to achieve this equivalency, the Deans endorse the following guidelines related to program, admission, instruction and supervision, and instructional resources:

A. Program

The university must make the same commitment to students regarding the availability and method of delivery of a complete program as it makes to students enrolled in on-campus programs.
Course content and contact hours must be equivalent to comparable courses offered on-campus.
Courses must not be offered in so compacted a time frame as to preclude opportunities for independent study, reflection and investigation within each course.

Wherever possible, the same choices of elective courses that are available in equivalent on-campus program must be offered to students.

Time limits for program completion must be the same as the limits for equivalent on-campus programs.

B. Admission Requirements

Admission criteria required of all candidates must be no less than those required for equivalent on-campus programs.

Unclassified or occasional students who are allowed to register in individual courses of the program must meet the same registration criteria as required for courses in equivalent on-campus programs.

C. Instruction and Supervision

There must be immediate, On-going interactive both between individual students and the instructor and among students in the delivery of each course.

Each student must be assigned to a program supervisor/advisor who is a member of the academic staff of the university. The quality of supervision or advising must be no less than that available to students in equivalent programs on-campus.

Qualifications and selection procedures for instructors and supervisors/advisors must be no less stringent than those required for equivalent on-campus programs.

D. Instruction Resources

Instructional resources (for example, library, computer, media and laboratory resources) necessary for graduate-level study must be available to all students.

This statement has been endorsed by the Deans of Graduate Studies at the following universities:

  • University of Alberta
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Lethbridge
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Northern British Columbia
  • University of Regina
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • Simon Fraser University
  • University of Victoria