Colleges and Universities


Colleges often offer shorter programs than universities (one to three years) and typically issue diplomas and certificates that qualify graduates to do specific jobs in different industries.

Universities offer programs on a wide range of topics at different levels of difficulty and complexity. A student who has successfully completed a university program is awarded with a university degree that reflects the type of program they have completed (Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Doctoral degree).

The preparation of this process has benefited from the work of many Canadian quality assurance bodies including Campus Alberta Quality Council, Post Secondary Education Quality Assessment Board of Ontario, Saskatchewan Higher Education Quality Assurance Board, Ontario College Quality Assurance Service, and British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training.  We are also grateful to the many Partners who contributed their time and comments during the preparation of this process.

Applications Under Review

Within the post-secondary education quality assurance process all new post-secondary institutions and programs are required to submit a system coordination review application. 

All system coordination applications will be listed here and publicly posted for 15 business days. The public, including other post-secondary education institutions will have an opportunity to comment on new applications.  

Accreditation Process for Non-Degree Granting Institutions

Colleges that are non-degree granting are considered a private training institution and will follow the accreditation process outlined for this type of institution

Accreditation Process for Degree Granting Institutions

Phase 1: Initial Ministerial Application 

  1. To start the process, institutions must prepare an application package to the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.   The application package must include a cover letter and a System Coordination Review application.
  2. The cover letter will include the following:
    •    Rationale for applying for degree granting status;
    •    Details on what the institution will be able to offer that they are not able to offer now; and
    •    Information on how degree granting status will benefit the NWT post-secondary education system.
  3. Once completed, the institution will submit the complete application package (including all of the above) to the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.
  4. The Minister will forward the application package to the Quality Assurance Review Advisory Committee (QARAC). 

Phase 2: System Coordination Review

  1. The QARAC will post the completed System Coordination Review application online for 15 business days for public input. Public input can include feedback from other post-secondary institutions.
  2. The QARAC will review the System Coordination Review application along with any public input received and make a recommendation to the Minister as to whether the application may proceed.
  3. If approved to proceed for a quality assurance review, the QARAC will direct the institution to complete a self-study as per the Campus Alberta Quality Council (CAQC) handbook section for full reviews, for submission to the Minister.

Phase 3: Quality Assurance Review

  1. The Minister refers the self-study to the QARAC, who will forward the application to the CAQC (an external quality assurance body) on behalf of the applicant for review.
  2. The CAQC will provide a recommendation and feedback to the QARAC.
  3. The QARAC will provide a recommendation to the Minister on whether to approve the application. This will incorporate the review completed by the CAQC.  
  4. The Minister will decide to approve or deny the application after reviewing the recommendation.
    • If the application is denied, the institution has 10 business days to respond.
    • If it is approved, a Certificate of Registration is issued.

The certificate of registration awarded to a College or University will identify the programs the institution is authorized to deliver. If an institution wishes to deliver a program not listed on the certificate of registration, they must complete an application for the new proposed program. This is initiated through the System Coordination Review. Learn more.

Length of Process

The quality assurance review for college, degree, and university applications can take up to 18 months.

Review the Service Standards here


Handbook - Campus Alberta Quality Council



  • System Coordination Review
    • This review is to determine the need and sustainability of the proposed program in the context of the NWT post-secondary education system.