Skip to Content

Academic Requirements and Acceptable Alternatives:
Challenges and Opportunities for the Regulated Professions in Ontario

5. Ontario professions: Academic requirements and accreditation processes

Most professions require some form of post-secondary education for licensing.

Indeed, the development of a separate field of academic knowledge is central to the process of establishing a profession. A profession presents itself as the knowledge authority in a particular field and defines acceptable qualifications for professional practice. The primary marker of qualification is usually a post-secondary education.

This section discusses the standard academic requirements for the 38 Ontario professions included in this study. It also shows the processes these professions use to accredit academic and professional programs.

Alternatives to the standard route for fulfilling academic requirements are discussed in section 6 and section 7.

Academic requirements

Among Ontario professions, academic requirements vary, but most professions require a university degree. As shown in Table 1:

  • 23 professions require a graduate or undergraduate university degree.
  • 14 require completion of a college program.
  • The nursing profession licenses both college and university graduates, under different classes of registration.

Some professions also require a program of professional education or training, such as a post-graduate residency at a medical school or a professional program offered by one of the accounting regulators. Professional education and training requirements are distinct from educational requirements, and present unique challenges beyond the scope of this study. Acceptable alternatives to professional education requirements are often quite limited, as these requirements are very specifically linked to intensive practical training or work experience in Canada.

Accreditation and approval of academic programs

To address the risk of varying program quality, most regulated professions have established an accreditation or approval process for academic programs.25 As shown in Table 1:

  • 17 professions rely on an external accreditation body.
  • 15 professions use an approval process specific to the regulatory body.
  • The nursing profession has both accreditation and approval processes that are specific to a class of registration.

Compared to small professions, large professions and those requiring university degrees are more likely to have national or bi-national accreditation bodies. These professions tend to have a longer history and a stronger resource base.

Accreditation and approval processes specify what kind of academic program meets the standard for licensing.

Canadian programs are usually held accountable to this specific standard, although an increasing number of Canadian private career colleges offer non-accredited programs.

Non-accredited and international programs can be assessed in relation to an accredited or approved program, to determine whether an applicant meets the academic requirement or requires further training.

Table 1. Ontario's regulated professions: Academic requirements and accreditation/approval processes

PROFESSION ACADEMIC REQUIREMENT1
An applicant must have completed...
ACCREDITATION OR APPROVAL
The academic program must be...
  NON-HEALTH
Architects A degree in architecture from a post-secondary institution Accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board
Chartered Accountants A four-year undergraduate degree / prescribed course credit requirements Accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario
Early Childhood Educators A diploma from a program in early childhood education Approved by the College of Early Childhood Educators
Engineering Technicians and Technologists A two-year engineering technician/applied science diploma program or a three-year engineering technologist/applied science diploma program Accredited by the Canadian Technology Accreditation Board
Engineers A bachelor's degree in an engineering program Accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board
Foresters A four-year science-based degree Approved by the Ontario Professional Foresters Association
General Accountants A four-year undergraduate degree / prescribed course credit requirements Accredited by Certified General Accounts of Ontario
Geoscientists A four-year bachelor of science degree in an area of geoscience Approved by the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario on the basis of meeting the course requirements set out in the document entitled "Minimum Knowledge (Academic) Requirements"
Land Surveyors A program at the baccalaureate level in professional surveying Approved by the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors
Lawyers A bachelor of laws2 or juris doctor degree Accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada
Management Accountants A four-year university baccalaureate-level or graduate degree / prescribed course credit requirements Accredited by Certified Management Accountants of Ontario
Paralegals A legal services program Accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada
Social Service Workers A diploma in social service work At a college of applied arts and technology in Ontario
Social Workers A degree in social work Accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education
Teachers An acceptable post-secondary degree A program of professional education accredited or approved by the Ontario College of Teachers
Veterinarians A basic degree in veterinary medicine Accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education
  HEALTH
Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists A professional master's degree in audiology or speech-language pathology or both Accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Canadian University Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
Chiropodists A post-secondary program whose curriculum includes courses in health sciences, chiropodial sciences, humanities and clinical education3 Approved by the College of Chiropodists of Ontario
Chiropractors The requirements for graduation from a chiropractic education program Accredited by the Canadian Federation of Chiropractic Regulatory and Educational Accrediting Boards
Dental Hygienists A program in dental hygiene equivalent to a full-time program of two years Accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada
Dental Surgeons A degree in dentistry as evidence of successful completion of a course in dental studies of at least four years duration at a university-based dental school Accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada
Dental Technologists An approved program in dental technology At a college of applied arts and technology in Ontario
Denturists A diploma in denture therapy or denturism Approved by the College of Denturists of Ontario
Dietitians A university program in foods and nutrition Accredited by Dietitians of Canada
Massage Therapists A diploma in massage therapy At a private vocational school or college of applied arts and technology in Ontario
Medical Laboratory Technologists An approved course of study in medical laboratory technology Accredited by Canadian Medical Association — Conjoint Accreditation Services
Medical Radiation Technologists A program in medical radiation technology Approved by the College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario
Midwives A baccalaureate degree in health sciences (midwifery) Obtained in Ontario
Nurses Nurse Practitioner: Master's degree in nursing / Nurse practitioner program Approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario
Registered Nurse: A baccalaureate degree in nursing Accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing
Registered Practical Nurse: A program in practical nursing Approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario
Occupational Therapists A bachelor of science degree or master of science degree in occupational therapy Obtained in Ontario
Opticians An opticianry program Accredited by the National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators
Optometrists An optometry degree Accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education
Pharmacists A minimum of a baccalaureate degree in pharmacy4 Accredited by the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs
Pharmacy Technicians A pharmacy technician program Accredited by the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs
Physicians and Surgeons A degree in medicine Accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools
Physiotherapists A degree in physiotherapy / physical therapy Approved by the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario
Psychologists Psychologist: a doctoral degree from a program of study with content primarily psychological in nature
Psychological Associate: a master's degree
Approved by the College of Psychologists of Ontario on the basis of meeting guidelines published by the college
Respiratory Therapists A program in respiratory therapy Accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Respiratory Therapy Education
Notes:
  • 1 The wording in the Academic Requirement column has been drawn directly from the registration regulation or equivalent document for the profession.
  • 2, 3, 4 Previous university study is required for admission to this program.
Colour Legend
Column 2Column 3
 College program is required No profession-specific approval is needed
 Undergraduate degree is required Must be approved by the regulatory body
 Graduate/professional degree is required Must be accredited by an external accreditation body


Return to Top


Notes and references

  • 25. Only five professions have no profession-specific approval process. Three of these five rely on government regulation of community and career colleges to ensure a minimum level of academic rigour. For the two other professions, for which there are a limited number of known and recognized academic programs in Ontario, the regulator has not established an approval process.
    For accounting professions, applicants can take an accredited program or complete their prescribed course credit requirements later, while working on their professional program.

Academic Requirements and Acceptable Alternatives:
Challenges and Opportunities for the Regulated Professions in Ontario

Exemplary Practices

The OFC gathers regulatory bodies' exemplary licensing practices so that they may learn from one another. Exemplary practices about academic requirements and acceptable alternatives are listed below.

  1. Accepting and supporting diverse applicants

    This practice acknowledges a diversity of midwifery...

  2. Clarifying documentation requirements and acceptable alternatives

    This practice will be of interest to regulators seeking...

  3. Communicating acceptable alternatives for applicants with non-accredited education

    This practice offers a visual map of pathways to registration...

  4. Communicating acceptable alternatives for meeting certification requirements

    This practice allows applicants to better understand...