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Graduate programs by special arrangement (SPARR)

It is possible to pursue research in an area that has not been formally approved as a graduate degree program at UVic. You’ll need to submit a proposal for a graduate program by special arrangement. You'll work with your supervisory committee to decide on courses and other program requirements.

Approval process

Academic units without established graduate programs can offer doctoral and master’s degrees on an individual basis. SPARR programs must meet some strict requirements.

To offer a doctoral degree by special arrangement, the academic unit must:

  • have a regular master’s program
  • have graduated students from that program during each of the last three years

To offer a master’s degree by special arrangement, the academic unit must:

  • have an active major or honours undergraduate program
  • have graduated students from that program during each of the last three years

These programs are subject to the usual Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations. The agreement between you and the faculty guides the academic program. This includes the coursework, candidacy regulations and timing, and the research program.

Arranging a graduate program by special arrangement

  • Review the admissions requirements for the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
  • Review our programs to confirm that you cannot take your program in any established graduate program.
  • Identify the relevant academic unit that could house your program.
  • Explore the "find a supervisor" section on our program overviews to find potential supervisors within that academic unit.
  • Meet with the academic unit graduate adviser to discuss the possibility of a special arrangement program.
  • Meet with potential supervisors to discuss your proposal.

Forming your committee and program

With the support of the academic unit and an academic supervisor, you can choose potential committee members. Once you have your supervisor and committee members, you can further outline your program. This includes:

  • establishing the required courses. (The exact course list will vary depending on your background, including both education and experience. You may need to complete preparatory courses in research methods, statistics, languages, etc. If any of the courses are in academic units other than your home unit, include written permission from those units to enroll in the courses. You may be able to select your courses from existing UVic courses. If not, you may need to arrange directed studies courses. You may wish to consider courses at other universities. These could be under the terms of the Western Deans' Agreement.)
  • candidacy plan (for doctoral programs)
  • unit value of your thesis, dissertation or project
  • total number of credits for your program

Applying for admission

  • Prepare the SPARR program proposal form and have it signed by the appropriate people. Include a 2-3 page description of:
    • the research or scholarly activity you wish to undertake
    • the main objectives of the research
    • how your background has prepared you for this program
  • If you have questions about your proposal, feel free to consult with an associate dean in the Faculty of Graduate Studies before submitting your online application.
  • Complete the online application for UVic graduate studies. Make sure you upload the SPARR program proposal form and any supporting documents (e.g., approvals to take courses outside home department).
  • Admission will be reviewed and approved by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Admissions and Records Office, and the admission committee in your proposed home academic unit.

Program designation

Once you’ve been accepted, your official record will indicate your program as “special arrangement.”