Graduate Shared Credential Agreements

Joint and double 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 can 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.

Review the information below and consider the value-to-input balance before deciding whether a joint or double degree is something your Faculty wishes to pursue. If it is, please get in touch with the relevant regional contact in UAI.

Considerations

Rationale for Program

  • Developing a joint or double degree graduate program can be very time-consuming. Evidence of significant added value is required to justify a new program. Consider entering an existing partnership between two or more other universities as an alternative strategy that may be more efficient than the laborious process of developing a program from start to end.
  • Any new joint or double degree partners should also be university-wide partners (i.e. of sufficient standing and importance to UAlberta that we would also have a university-wide Memorandum of Understanding in place with them).  So, if a university-wide MOU is not already in place, one would need to be proposed as well.
  • In order to ensure that development of a new program would in fact lead to student participation, it is necessary to have sufficient supervising faculty and prospective students for the proposed program identified in advance and to demonstrate that there would be ongoing student demand from both partners. Lack of student demand is the most frequent reason for failure of joint and double degree programs.

Terminology

Various terms exist internationally with regard to shared credential programs. The University of Alberta uses the following terms in its Shared Credentials Policy:

  • Shared-credential Program: A program of study that leads to degree(s) where the name of the University of Alberta is cited on the degree parchment awarded by another institution, and/or the name of another institution is cited on a University of Alberta degree parchment, in accordance with the University’s Parchment Procedure.
  • Overlapping Program: A program in which the student satisfies the requirements of existing degrees at their home institution, and possibly all the partner institutions, through the agreed-upon institutional mechanism of accepting a certain amount of the work done by the student at the partner institution(s) under a formal agreement.
  • Integrated Program: A program for which the partner institutions collectively design and deliver the curriculum and a significant number of the courses and content.

In some contexts, the term “joint” degree program is used to refer to an integrated program (where the curriculum has been jointly developed) but sometimes it is used more generally to refer to an overlapping shared credential program where the student receives a single parchment.

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

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.

Type of Program

  • Programs that require notation on the degree parchment need to be approved by an additional committee compared to those just involving the awarding of a standard UAlberta degree parchment, thus a longer and more complex approval process is required.
  • There are different models with regard to tuition for students in the program. Some programs operate on an exchange basis where students only pay tuition at their home institution, including when they are residing at the other institution. However, other programs require students to pay at the institution where they are currently studying (the fee-paying model). 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 so incoming students would be assessed tuition here, though departments may choose to cover that cost. While studying abroad at the collaborating institution, UAlberta students 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 and Admission Process

  • The substantive details of the agreement would need to be worked out between the proposing Faculty/Department, FGSR, and the collaborating institution.  Working from the UAlberta template is greatly advised.
  • It is up to Faculties/Departments to decide on the admission requirements for incoming students. These can be written into the formal agreement.
  • Students in shared credentials programs need to first be admitted to a graduate program at their home institution, then if their supervisor/department/Faculty is in support, the Shared Credentials Initial Approval Form (available through FGSR) must be submitted.
  • 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.
  • All details in the agreement, including the residency, will need to be approved through UAlberta governance bodies such as FGSR Council and APC.

Responsibilities

  • The Faculty needs to 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 can provide some assistance, as for all international students.
  • The Faculty needs to designate someone to manage the program.
  • Faculties need to ensure that they abide by Alberta privacy laws with regard to sharing of student information with the collaborating institution.
  • For all joint and double degree programs, there must be a program review and evaluation every 3 years.
  • Statistics related to the program (number of students enrolled) must be reported to the Alberta Government on an annual basis.

Agreement Development Process

Please refer to the Process for Establishing an Agreement.

Also note that, in addition to the UAI linkage proposal form, the questions in the Overlapping Programs Proposal Procedure need to be addressed, including the level of student demand for the program.

View the list of current graduate shared credentials (joint and dual degree) programs at UAlberta.