Program Standards & Descriptions

Published Program Standards

Published vocational standards (program standards) exist for many program areas in the Ontario College System. These outcomes and associated elements of performance determine the minimum expectation for all colleges offering that credential in the Ontario College System.  Individual programs can certainly add to these mandatory outcomes with their own locally-determined outcomes in an effort to differentiate their program and meet identified employer needs not yet represented in the standards.  Here is a link to the published program standards.  If you require assistance, please contact the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) at

Program Descriptions

Many of the programs offered in Ontario are emerging or unique areas that are not yet offered at enough Ontario colleges.  As a result, they do not yet have established, published program standards.  However, these programs do all have a CVS validated program description that identifies the approved program outcomes for the credential being offered.  These documents are not public but are searchable and retrievable by the designated curriculum person or people at an institution.  If you would like to review program descriptions from your or similar programs, please contact CATL at and we would be happy to do that for you.

Backwards Design

In keeping with the principle of backward design, it is important to first establish clear, performance-based learning outcomes that describe what a graduate of a program of study will be able to demonstrate.  These identified program outcomes need to be validated when new programs are developed and re-validated when significant changes are made to existing programs.  These outcomes are validated by Credential Validation Services (CVS).  These programs exist in one of two forms: published program standards or program descriptions.