Institutional Quality Assurance Process

About IQAP

McMaster University is widely recognized for innovation in teaching and learning and for the quality of its programs. In keeping with our reputation, McMaster’s Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP) has been created to guide academic program reviews while complementing existing methods for critical assessment and enhancement. The IQAP provides an opportunity for each program to reflect and enhance upon their existing curriculum and pedagogy. The process also guides the development of new programs or the modification of existing ones.

If you have any questions regarding your program’s IQAP, inquires can be directed to

In close collaboration with various stakeholders and the Vice-Provost of Graduate Studies, Teaching & Learning, and Institutional Research and Analysis, IQAP aims to facilitate holistic academic program reviews focused on overall program enhancement. The Program Enhancement Office will bring the IQAP processes together and emphasize ongoing program enhancement, grounding its principles and values in student-centered and evidence-informed decision making. Following the Quality Assurance Framework, this office will offer support to programs in the development of program learning outcomes, the mapping of courses and learning experiences to these learning outcomes, and the assessment of the stated learning outcomes. Further, it will encourage and enable the involvement of students in the review process.

— Dr. Susan Searls Giroux
Vice-Provost (Faculty)

Academic Program Reviews – Policy

Cyclical Program Review

All existing academic programs are to be reviewed within an eight-year cycle. The list of programs that require review, and the schedule of such reviews, is maintained by the Vice-Provost (Faculty) in consultation with the Vice-Provost & Dean of Grad Studies. Departments that wish to review undergraduate and graduate programs jointly should contact to discuss the possibility of revising the current schedule.

New program proposals must go through full review for approval. The procedure of the approval process is outlined in the flowchart below.



In collaboration with relevant groups and/or individuals, the Chair will initiate the creation of a self-study document that is broad-based, reflective, forward-looking and inclusive of critical analysis. The self-study is an opportunity to review collections of courses and learning opportunities holistically with a focus towards the overall program learning experiences of the students as well as to demonstrate the uniqueness of each of McMaster’s programs.


The Vice-Provost (Faculty) or the Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the Dean, will select a team of reviewers to evaluate the program from a list of 6 suggested individuals compiled by the Program/Department under review. The review team shall normally consist of two external reviewers and one internal reviewer.




The review team will prepare and submit a report that addresses the substance of both the self-study and the evaluation criteria. The Chair shall be responsible, in collaboration with relevant groups and/or individuals, for preparing the Program’s response to the review team’s report. The Dean then prepares a response and helps to prioritize and resource the recommendations that will be implemented. A final assessment report, that takes into consideration the self-study, the review team report, the Chair’s response, and the Dean’s implementation plan, is compiled by the Quality Assurance Committee and submitted to Undergraduate Council/Graduate Council, the University Planning Committee, Quality Council, and posted on McMaster’s website.




Normally after 18 months, the Chair and Dean will meet to discuss progress regarding the program’s Implementation Plan. A Progress Report is prepared and submitted to the Quality Assurance Committee.


New Program Proposals

McMaster’s IQAP is designed to facilitate the development and continued improvement of our undergraduate and graduate academic programs, and to ensure that McMaster continues to lead internationally in its reputation for innovation in teaching and learning.

New program proposals must go through full review for approval. The procedure of the approval process is outlined in the flowchart below.

General Documents of New Program Proposals

Each year, the Ministry establishes a review cycle with specific submission deadlines. Submissions received after the deadline will be automatically placed into the next submission cycle. Programs not approved by February 1 will not be eligible for funding and OSAP for that fiscal year, and all enrolled students must be reported as ineligible for funding in that fiscal year.

Expedited Program Approval
Programs may request an expedited approval if they meet one of the following criteria:

  1. an institution requests endorsement of the Quality Council to declare a new Field in a graduate program. (Note that institutions are not required to declare fields in either master’s or doctoral programs.); or
  2. there is a proposal for a new Collaborative Program; or
  3. there are proposals for new for-credit graduate diplomas; or
  4. an institution requests it, there are Major Modifications to Existing Programs, as already
    defined through the IQAP, proposed for degree program or program of specialization.

Expedited approvals do not require external reviewer approval and have faster turn-around on decisions by the Quality Council.

Documents for Expedited Review

For additional budget-related information regarding New Program Proposals or Expedited Program Proposals, please contact Linda Coslovi, Associate Vice-President, Finance and Planning (Academic), at


Program Modifications

Revisions to an existing program will be classified as either a minor or a major modification to the program. In both cases, the program will continue to be subject to a cyclical program review.

For undergraduate programs, a major modification will be one in which more than 30% of the program requirements are being changed from one academic year to the next. For graduate programs, a major modification will be one in which more than 50% of the program requirements (including requirements such as courses, major exams, and research) are being changed from one year to the next.

Departments must have their curriculum changes approved according to their own departmental curriculum terms of reference, by their faculty (according to their committee terms of reference), and by Undergraduate Council or Graduate Council. The office of the Vice-Provost (Faculty) in consultation with the Vice-Provost & Dean of Grad Studies submits an annual report of all the curriculum changes at McMaster to the Quality Council.

For examples of major modifications visit the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance.

Additional Support Services

To assist with your program’s IQAP, the MacPherson Institute offers various services including:

Facilitated Group Discussions

These discussions are used to elicit program-specific student feedback which can be incorporated in your IQAP.

Student Feedback Surveys

Surveys are sent out to current students and graduates of the programs to elicit feedback which can be incorporated into a program’s self-study to assist in the cyclical review process.

Individual Consultations

A MacPherson Institute consultant will meet with your program representative(s) to assist with the IQAP. For example, MacPherson Institute consultants can assist with the articulation of Program Learning Outcomes curriculum mapping, connecting with programs to educational technologies and commenting on drafts of self-studies and new program or modifications proposals.

IQAP Workshops

Workshops are offered annually to faculty and staff from programs that are undergoing their cyclical reviews. These workshops will provide participants with an opportunity to learn more about the review process, receive information about potential resources and ask questions.

Departmental Retreats and Meeting Facilitation

Consultants are available to facilitate departmental retreats or meetings as needed. For more information or to request a consult, contact

Institutional Data

The Institutional Research Analysis office provides data sets to assist in the completion of the program self-study in the cyclical review process. Contact for more details on how they can assist with your IQAP cyclical review.

IQAP Office

Susan Searls Giroux

Vice-Provost, Faculty

Michael Thompson

Acting Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies

Doug Welch

Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies (On Leave)

Lori Goff

Acting Director, MacPherson Institute

Stephanie Baschiera

Associate Registrar & Graduate Secretary

Christina Bryce

Assistant Graduate Secretary

IQAP Office

Erin Aspenlieder

Acting Associate Director, Program and Educational Development

Amy Gullage

Program Enhancement Lead

Julianne Simpson

Quality Assurance Specialist

Elliot Storm

Educational Developer

Greg Van Gastel

Educational Developer (On Leave)