Shared Credential Agreement Development Guidelines

Joint degree graduate programs are an increasingly common instrument for cooperation between universities. They can contribute to building stronger and more sustainable relations with partner universities.

However, they also involve significant time and commitment to develop and maintain successfully. There are alternate options for collaboration (such as joint supervision of students), which do not require a formal program or agreement.

Along with the steps described in the detailed agreement development process, joint or dual degree programs must first be approved by Department and Faculty Councils before moving onto the governance processes as described below.

The University Governance Office is the authority which advises on the required governance steps.

View the list of UAlberta's existing international shared credential graduate degree programs.

Rationale for Program

  • Evidence of significant added value is required to justify a new joint or dual degree graduate program since the process is very time consuming. An alternative to this laborious process is entering an existing partnership between two or more other universities instead of developing a new program from start to end.
  • Evidence of sufficient supervising faculty and prospective students for the proposed program should be identified in advance. Securing ongoing student demand from both partners should also be considered. Lack of student demand is the most frequent reason for failure of joint and dual degree programs.


Various terms exist when referring to international shared-credential programs.* The University of Alberta uses the following terms Shared-credential Program, Overlapping Program and Integrated Program in its Shared Credentials Policy.

The term “joint” degree program can refer to an integrated program, where the curriculum has been jointly developed, or to refer to an overlapping shared credential program, where the student receives a single parchment.

The term “dual” program is often used to refer to overlapping programs, where separate degrees from each institution are awarded.

Generally, joint degree programs are less time consuming to set up than dual degrees.

If a program requires a notation on the degree parchment, a longer and more complex approval process is required.

*The terms “joint”, “double”, and “dual” degrees are also used in domestic contexts where they normally refer to degrees that involve two programs or faculties, e.g. Engineering and German, or Business and Computing Science.

Tuition Models

Decisions regarding where students will pay tuition must be determined. Options include:

  • The exchange model, in which students pay tuition at their home institution, including when they are residing at the other institution; and
  • The fee-paying model, in which students pay fees at the institution where they are currently studying.

At UAlberta, the fee-paying model requires explicit approval in advance from the Provost.

The general UAlberta template is based on a fee-paying model, meaning incoming students are assessed tuition here, though departments can choose to cover that cost. UAlberta students studying abroad at the collaborating institution need to retain a minimal registration in UAlberta, but the fees are very low.

If needed, the Dean of FGSR and UAI can provide guidance on the different fee models.

Agreement Content

The substantive details of the agreement must be worked out between the proposing Faculty/Department, FGSR, and the collaborating institution. Working from the UAlberta template is greatly advised.

Residency requirements (i.e. minimum length of time to be spent at the collaborating institution) should also be determined by the faculty/department and included in the agreement.

Admission Requirements and Process

It is up to faculties/departments to decide on the admission requirements for incoming students. These can be written into the formal agreement. The process for admission is described below.

Prior to starting the admission process, all agreement content must be approved by the appropriate governance bodies as described above.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Faculties assume primary responsibility for providing support and oversight for incoming students, including both academic and social matters. UAI and the Office of the Dean of Students only offer the assistance they provide all international students.
  • Faculties should designate someone to manage the program.
  • Faculties must ensure that they comply with Alberta privacy laws with regard to sharing of student information with the collaborating institution.
  • Faculties must note and adhere to the Government of Alberta Guidelines for Transnational Education.
  • For all joint and dual degree programs, there must be a program review and evaluation every three years.
  • The number of students enrolled must be reported to the Alberta Government on an annual basis.

Please submit a linkage proposal form and an Overlapping Programs Proposal Procedure form to help determine student demand for the program.