Major Modifications

What is a Major Modification?

The review and approval process of Major Modifications to academic programs is outlined in the Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP v2.2 April 2018).

The fundamental purpose of the identification of Major Modifications to existing programs, and their submission through a robust quality assurance process is to assure the University Community and the public, of the ongoing quality of all of Lakehead University's academic programs. 

The Ontario Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) defines Major Modifications as changes to programs that include any of the following (see QAF Definitions and QAF Institutional Identification of Major Modifications to Existing Programs):

  1. Requirements that differ significantly from those existing at the time of the previous cyclical program review;
  2. Significant changes to the learning outcomes;
  3. Significant changes to the faculty engaged in delivering the program and/or to the essential physical resources as may occur, for example, where there have been changes to the existing mode(s) of delivery (e.g., different campus, online delivery, inter-institutional collaboration);
  4. The addition of a new field to an existing graduate program. This modification is subject to an Expedited Approval which requires submission to Quality Council for approval.

At Lakehead University, the definition for Major Modification will be addressed in the following ways:

Designation as a Major Modification related to requirements that differ significantly from those existing at the time of the previous Cyclical Program Review will be based on:

  1. Changes in Program Content - A major program content change that entails the addition, deletion, replacement, or major changes to courses comprising a substantial proportion of the program. Changes include modifications to existing core and/or elective courses or their replacement by new core and/or elective courses. For this purpose, a substantial proportion should be considered to mean at least 20% of the total program requirements, or at least 50% of the requirements in any single year of the program. For example, in a program that requires students to complete 20 full course equivalents (20 FCE), a change to more than 4 FCE, or changes to more than 2.5 FCE in a given year, would be considered to be substantial and would be defined as a Major Modification.
  2. Changes in Program Structure - A major program structure change that entails a substantial shift of credits between components of the program. Program structure changes may include a substantial shift between theoretical courses and experiential components (for example; practicum, clinical placements, field experiences, laboratories), a substantial shift between core and elective courses, and/or a substantial shift between different core disciplines. For this purpose, a substantial shift should be considered to mean that at least 20% of the total program requirements, or at least 50% of the requirements in any single year of the program, are moved between different program components.
  3. Changes to Learning Outcomes - Lakehead University encourages and expects that program learner outcomes will continue to be reviewed and refined as part of the ongoing development of programs. However, significant changes to the list of program learner outcomes (that do not meet the threshold defined for a new program) will likely also be associated with significant changes to the requirements of a program as described above and would constitute a Major Modification.
  4. Changes to Resources - Significant changes to the faculty engaged in delivering the program and/or to the essential physical resources will only be considered to be a Major Modification when these changes prevent the approved program from being delivered as developed and previously approved.

Proposals for Major Modifications can be classified into one of the following categories. 

  • New Minor: A defined collection of courses, different from the major, which can be taken within an Honours or Bachelors (4 year) program.
  • New Concentration: A defined collection of courses that is embedded into and complements an Honours or Bachelors (4 year) program. 
  • New Specialization: A defined collection of courses taken from a particular or variety of disciplines that complement the major. 
  • New Field in a Graduate Program: A new field of specialization or concentration developed on the strengths of a program's faculty

A list of examples that illustrate what will normally constitute a major modification in each of the areas outlined above is provided in the Quality Assurance Framework Guide (QAF Major Modifications to Existing Programs).

New Minor

A minor is an optional collection of coursework within a four-year degree program, completion of which will be shown on the student's academic record, but not the student's parchment.

A minor will consist of a minimum of at least three (3) full course equivalents (FCE) different from and in addition to the courses in the student’s major; however, only courses outside the major can be counted towards a minor. At least one of the full course equivalents must be at the 3rd year level, or beyond. A minimum average of 60% is required for the minor, but may be higher in some cases. Courses that are cross-calendared can only be counted towards one of the respective majors or one minor. (Senate Academic Committee approved regulation).

A formal proposal brief for a major modification is required for the submission of a proposed new Minor. See Section 5.2 of the IQAP.

New Concentration

A concentration is a defined collection of courses that is embedded into and complements a 4-year degree. A concentration will consist of a minimum of 5 full courses equivalents (FCEs), 2 of which will be at the 3rd year level or higher. A minimum cumulative average of 70% is required in both the major and concentration for Honours programs and 60% for Bachelor (4-year) programs. Courses taken as part of the major may count towards the concentration. 

The concentration will have learning outcomes that are distinct from, and in addition to, the program learning outcomes.

Note: For information on the Evaluation Criteria, Review and Approval Process, and more, see the Lakehead University Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP)

A formal proposal brief for a major modification is required for the submission of a proposed new Concentration. See Section 5.2 of the IQAP.

New Specialization

A specialization is a defined collection of courses taken from a particular or variety of disciplines that complement the major. A specialization will consist of a minimum of 2.5 full courses equivalents (FCEs) at the 2nd year level or higher. A minimum cumulative average of 70% is required in both the major and concentration for Honours programs and 60% for Bachelor (4-year) programs. Courses taken as part of the major may count towards the concentration. 

The concentration will have learning outcomes that are distinct from, and in addition to, the program learning outcomes.

A formal proposal brief for a major modification is required for the submission of a proposed new Concentration. See Section 5.2 of the IQAP.

New Field in a Graduate Program

In graduate programs, field refers to an area of specialization or concentration (in multi/interdisciplinary programs a clustered area of specialization) that is related to the demonstrable and collective strengths of the program’s faculty. Institutions are not required to declare fields at either the master’s or doctoral level. Institutions may wish, through an Expedited Approval process, to seek the endorsement of the Quality Council (Quality Assurance Framework).

Note: For information on the Proposal Brief, Evaluation Criteria, Review and Approval Process, and more, see the Lakehead University Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP)

A formal Proposal Brief for a Major Modification is required for the submission of a proposed new Concentration. See Section 5.2 of the IQAP.

The following Lakehead University resources provide detailed guidance on the process and required documentation.

Most major modifications to existing programs do not require submission of a proposal brief to the Quality Council, with the exception being item d) above which is considered an Expedited Approval. However, Lakehead University is required to submit an annual report of Major Modifications to the Quality Council listing all of the programs that have been modified over the past year.