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Degree-Granting in Saskatchewan

The Degree Authorization Act and The Degree Authorization Regulations allow post-secondary institutions to apply for the authority to offer degree programs. The University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan are exempt from this legislation.

This process is strictly monitored by the Saskatchewan Higher Education Quality Assurance Board (SHEQAB). The SHEQAB was established by the Ministry of Advanced Education to oversee the quality assurance process in accordance with The Degree Authorization Act.

The SHEQAB works independently from, but in cooperation with, the Ministry of Advanced Education and is supported by the SHEQAB Secretariat.

The quality assurance review process ensures that new degree programs in Saskatchewan meet high-quality standards that promote the recognition of Saskatchewan graduates both nationally and internationally for their academic achievements.

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1. How to Apply

Institutions interested in applying for authorization to grant degrees in Saskatchewan must request an application package from the SHEQAB Secretariat by email at info@quality-assurance-sk.ca.

Visit the SHEQAB webpage for more information.

Standards

The SHEQAB uses the following standards to assess institutions seeking authorization to provide baccalaureate (Bachelor's) and graduate (Master's and doctoral) level programs:

The standards are approved by the Minister of Advanced Education.

Fees

Pursuant to The Degree Authorization Regulations, institutions applying for authorization to grant degrees in Saskatchewan will be charged the following fees:

Initial application fee:
$5,000
Partial review fee:
$20,000
Total fees, partial review:
$25,000
Full review fee:
$45,000
Total fees, full review:
$50,000
Expedited review fee:
$0
Total fees, expedited review:
$5,000

The initial application fee is payable when an application is initially filed.

The full or partial review fees are payable when an application is referred to the Board.

All fees are designed to be cost neutral for the Government of Saskatchewan.

For full details regarding fees, please contact the SHEQAB Secretariat by email at info@quality-assurance-sk.ca.

Financial Security Requirements

Pursuant to The Degree Authorization Regulations, before a newly authorized degree program can be offered by a private institution, the institution must post financial security in the form of a surety bond. The purpose of this financial security is to provide protection for students should a private institution be unable to meet its obligations to provide the degree program for which it is authorized. Should such circumstances arise, students are entitled to seek compensation through a claim process that may lead to the distribution of funds from the security to student claimants.

The amount of security required is the greater value of the following:

  1. $100,000; or
  2. The amount determined by the calculations below to a maximum of $1,000,000.

The institution will estimate the degree program's total annual revenue by estimating the annual enrolment and multiplying this by the tuition fee plus any associated mandatory fees.

For example, a program with estimated annual enrolment of 50 students, annual tuition of $7,500.00, and mandatory fees of $500.00 would have total estimated revenue of 50 X ($7,500 + $500) = $400,000

The amount of security required is determined as follows:

  • If the institution requires students to pay tuition fees in one or more instalments throughout the year, with any single instalment exceeding 50% of the degree program's total annual tuition, the private institution must provide financial security using the following formula:
    Security = total annual revenue X 0.75. Using the example above, a program with $400,000.00 total annual revenue would require a $300,000.00 surety bond.

OR

  • If the institutions provides students with an option of paying tuition fees in two or more instalments throughout the year, with no single instalment exceeding 50% of the degree program's total annual tuition, the private educational institution must provide financial security using the following formula:
    Security = (total annual tuition/2) X 0.75. Using the example above, this program with a total annual revenue of $400,000.00 would require a surety bond in the amount of $150,000.00.
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2. After an Application is Submitted

Once an application package is submitted and the required fee is received, the process consists of three phases as it is illustrated on this flowchart:

  • Phase I – System Coordination Review
  • Phase II – SHEQAB Quality Assurance Review
  • Phase III – Minister's Decision, Authorization and Monitoring

Phase I - System Co-ordination Review

The Ministry of Advanced Education conducts Phase I to ensure the proposed degree program aligns with provincial needs and priorities and does not unnecessarily duplicate programming already available in Saskatchewan.

The application is then posted on the Government of Saskatchewan's Public Engagement website for 30 days to allow feedback from other post-secondary institutions, professional associations, regulatory bodies and the public. The applicant will be given the opportunity to respond to any feedback received.

The ministry's review, the public input and the applicant's response to the feedback are provided to Cabinet. If approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the application will be referred to the SHEQAB for Phase II of the process.

Phase II - SHEQAB Quality Assurance Review

Once an application has been referred, the SHEQAB will determine what level of quality assurance review is required: an expedited review, a partial review or a full review.

A full review will be required for applicants proposing to offer a degree program for the first time, a degree at a new level or a precedent-setting degree. In these cases, the Board will conduct both an organizational review and a program review using external expert panels for each as required.

A partial review will be required for applicants who are not required to undergo a full review. A partial review may include a program review only, elements of a program review and elements of an organizational review, or a full program review with elements of an organizational review. The Board will determine the appropriate review for each applicant institution.

An expedited review may be permitted for out-of-province applicants that have an established history of offering degree programs or that are authorized to grant degrees in their home jurisdiction and have previously undergone a quality assurance review. The expedited review will ensure that the institution and program meet the Saskatchewan's quality standards.

Depending on the level of review required, an applicant may be required to undergo any or all of the following steps:

  • An organizational self-evaluation;
  • An organizational review conducted by an external expert panel, possibly including a site visit;
  • A program self-evaluation; and/or
  • A program review conducted by an external expert panel, possibly including a site visit.

The SHEQAB will review the self-evaluations and expert panel reports to ensure the applicant and proposed program meet the requirements for authorization. Applicants may be given the opportunity to address areas that do not meet standards identified in the self-evaluations prior to review by the expert panels. Applicants will also be provided with a copy of the expert panel's report and will be allowed to submit a written response to it for their consideration.

Upon completion of all required self-evaluations and expert panel reviews, the SHEQAB will make its recommendation to the Minister of Advanced Education whether or not the proposed degree should be authorized.

Phase III - Minister's Decision, Authorization and Monitoring

Taking into consideration the SHEQAB's recommendations, the Minister will decide whether or not to authorize the new degree program. Two options may occur:

  1. SHEQAB may recommend that the program be authorized, with or without conditions. In this case, the Minister can choose to either:
    • authorize the degree; or
    • with the approval of Cabinet, refuse the authorization.
  2. SHEQAB may recommend that the program not be authorized. In this case, the Minister must refuse authorization.

Upon authorization, a private institution will be required to post financial security before being allowed to offer the degree program.

The SHEQAB monitors authorized degrees annually to ensure institutions adhere to the terms and conditions of authorization.

Seal of Approval

When an institution is authorized to offer a degree program in Saskatchewan, it will be granted the ability to use the SHEQAB Seal of Approval. This identifies the program(s) that have met SHEQAB's quality assurance standards.

Seal of Approval

Sample SHEQAB seal of approval
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3. Degree Applications

The table below shows the status of applications received by the Ministry of Advanced Education.


Institution Submission (Application) Status Period of Authorization*
Briercrest College Bachelor of Arts
Humanities
Authorized July 1, 2013
ongoing
  Bachelor of Arts English/
English (Honours)
Authorized July 1, 2015
to June 30, 2022
  Bachelor of Arts in
Psychology
Authorized July 1, 2018
to June 30, 2025
  Bachelor of Arts History/
History (Honours)
Authorized September 1, 2018
to June 30, 2025
  Bachelor of Arts in
Biblical Studies
Under review  
  Bachelor of Arts in
Biblical Studies (Honours)
Under review  
  Bachelor of Arts in
Business Administration
Under review  
  Bachelor of General Studies Under review  
       
Saskatchewan
Polytechnic
Bachelor of Science in
Psychiatric Nursing
Authorized as Bachelor
of Psychiatric Nursing
July 1, 2013
ongoing
  Bachelor of Science in
Construction Management
Authorized as Bachelor
of Construction Management
July 1, 2017
to June 30, 2024
  Bachelor of Applied
Management
Authorized July 1, 2019
ongoing
  Bachelor of Management Withdrawn  
  Bachelor of Addictions Counselling Withdrawn
       
Cape Breton
University
Master of Business Administration in
Community Economic Development
Authorized July 1, 2020
ongoing

*NOTE: Date of authorization may not coincide with date of program implementation. For more information, please contact the institution.

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4. Exceptions

The University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan

Please note that the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan are not required to have their programs authorized under The Degree Authorization Act, and therefore, are not required to use the Seal of Approval to indicate the quality of their programs.

Grandfathered Institutions and Programs

The following institutions and programs have been temporarily exempted (or "grandfathered") from the requirements of The Degree Authorization Act, and will have until June 30, 2020, to come into compliance with the Act. Grandfathered institutions and programs will not display the Seal of Approval.

  • Athabasca University
    • Tutoring arrangements in Saskatchewan

  • Cape Breton University, in partnership with Great Plains College
    • Master of Business Administration program provided on the Warman campus

  • Briercrest College and Seminary
    • Associate of Arts Humanities
    • Associate of Arts Music
    • Bachelor of Arts Music
    • Associate of Arts Social Sciences
    • Bachelor of Arts Applied Linguistics
    • Bachelor of Arts Business Administration
    • Bachelor of Arts General Studies

Theological Degrees

There are a number of theological colleges in Saskatchewan that grant theological degrees. These institutions and programs are not required to go through the quality assurance review process and will not display the Seal of Approval. A theological degree must be given a name that meets the requirements of section 31 of The Degree Authorization Regulations. The following are names of degrees that are recognized as theological degrees in Saskatchewan.

  • Bachelor of Biblical Studies
  • Bachelor of Christian Ministry
  • Bachelor of Pentecostal Studies
  • Bachelor of Bi-Vocational Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Christian Leadership
  • Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry
  • Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministries
  • Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Ministries
  • Bachelor of Arts in Worship Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies
  • Associate of Arts in Biblical Studies
  • Associate of Arts in Intercultural Studies

In Saskatchewan, a theological degree cannot be named "Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies" or "Bachelor of Arts in Religion," alone or in conjunction with another subject. The reason for this restriction is that these two degree names (and variations of them) are commonly used for secular (non-theological) degrees offered by the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, and other public universities in Canada.

Degree Mills

Some institutions knowingly offer substandard programs leading to degrees or other credentials that cost a lot of money but are worth little or nothing in academia or the employment market. In some cases, a student will be required to do no work at all – just pay a fee and receive a degree or diploma. These institutions are sometimes known as degree mills or diploma mills.

The following information about degree mills or diploma mills is taken from the joint Council of Higher Education of America and UNESCO 2009 document entitled: Toward Effective Practice: Discouraging Degree Mills in Higher Education.

A "degree mill" or "diploma mill" may be characterized by:

  • The business "… offers a credential purely in exchange for payment and nothing else."
  • Money – and only money – is sufficient to obtain a credential at any level and in almost any area of study.
  • When the business practice is accurately described by some or all of the following:
    • Lacks legal authority to operate as higher education institution or to award degrees;
    • Requires little if any attendance, either on-site or online;
    • Requires little if any coursework or few if any assignments to obtain a credential;
    • Does not provide information about location of incorporation, ownership or governance;
    • Provides little or no contact information other than a telephone number or email address;
    • Publishes false or exaggerated claims of external quality review (accreditation or quality assurance);
    • Issues credentials that are not accepted for licensing;
    • Allows entry into graduate or professional programs in the degree/diploma mill's home country;
    • Lists academic staff whose degrees were issued by degree mills or are unable to provide verifiable lists of academic staff and their qualifications;
    • Plagiarizes material from legitimate institutions for inclusion on degree/diploma mill websites; and/or
    • Features websites with Internet domain registration that is obscured by a privacy service rather than being publicly accessible.

Any one of the descriptors above should be cause for concern.

How Do Degree/Diploma Mills Harm or Impact You?
(Adapted from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education)

  • Students
    • If you obtain credentials from a non-accredited institution, you may not qualify for certification or employment in your chosen field. Check carefully before choosing an institution to obtain your higher education.
  • Parents
    • If you make a monetary investment in your child's education, it may prove to be money down the drain if he/she does not receive the level of education and training you expected and cannot get a job because of the sub-standard credentials received. Check carefully before investing in your child's future.
  • Businesses
    • If you hire someone who uses fake, fraudulent credentials to qualify for employment, your business may be at risk for liabilities and the economy and labour market are negatively impacted. Check carefully for credentials of merit before hiring.

If you have any questions about an institution offering programs in Saskatchewan, please contact the SHEQAB Secretariat by telephone at 306-787-1782 or by email at info@quality-assurance-sk.ca.

Out-of-Province Partnerships

An out-of-province institution holding an authorization or consent from another jurisdiction that was obtained under legislation similar to The Degree Authorization Act, that has partnered with either the University of Regina or the University of Saskatchewan to offer a degree or joint degree program may apply for an exemption from the Act by submitting the following documentation:

  • a request for exemption; and
  • a letter of attestation from the Saskatchewan partnering university confirming the applicant institution and its program(s) meets Saskatchewan's quality assurance standards.
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5. The Saskatchewan Higher Education Quality Assurance Board

The Degree Authorization Act and The Degree Authorization Regulations make it possible for post-secondary institutions other than the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan to apply for the authorization to grant degrees in Saskatchewan.

Requiring applicants for authorization to grant degrees to go through a comprehensive quality assessment of their institution and program(s) protects students by ensuring that all degree programs that are offered in Saskatchewan meet accepted quality standards, and that the credential awarded upon completion of the program will be recognized by other academic institutions and employers.

In accordance with the The Degree Authorization Act, the Ministry of Advanced Education established the Saskatchewan Higher Education Quality Assurance Board (SHEQAB) to oversee the quality assurance process that ensures new degree programs in the province meet high-quality standards. Visit the Saskatchewan Higher Education Quality Assurance Board page for more information.

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