In a degree partnership, an institution enters into a contractual agreement with another institution or organization. This agreement guarantees that students completing courses with a minimum grade level at the first institution will be guaranteed admission into more advanced studies at the second institution. For example, Douglas College and Simon Fraser University have a degree partnership agreement in which students with less than 45 university-level credits can enroll in one of three SFU undergraduate degree programs and complete the SFU degree while taking classes at both Douglas College and SFU. The degree is conferred by SFU.
Degree partnerships differ from block transfer and other forms of transfer because students continue to be enrolled at the first institution while taking classes at the second institution. The classes may be offered at the second institution, or they may be delivered at the first institution to students enrolled in the second institution's programs. The courses are identified and recorded as the second institution's courses.
Some post-secondary institutions in BC also have partnerships with institutions outside Canada. Usually, in these agreements, the BC institution's courses are delivered at the partner institution using instructors employed by or approved by the BC institution, and students are enrolled in the BC institution although they are not physically in BC. The courses offered in these types of partnership agreements are generally first- or second-year courses, and students who are eligible to study in Canada will move to the BC institution to complete their program or for additional studies.
Transferability of courses is not always an issue in degree partnership agreements because courses may not be required to transfer between the partner institutions. As part of the partnership agreement, the participating institutions determine which courses at which institution will be accepted for credit toward the credential; which institution(s) students will be registered at while in the program; and which institution will be responsible for maintaining student transcripts. If courses are to transfer between the institutions involved in the partnership, and these courses are not already listed as transferable in the BC Transfer Guide, a transfer request must be processed through the TCES.
There may also be conditions affecting transfer that are outlined in the partnership agreement, such as limitations on the number of credits earned at each partner institution that can be applied toward the credential.
In some partnership agreements, courses or credits delivered through a partner institution are identified with a special notation on the course code. As noted elsewhere in this guide, BCCAT does not recommend this practice, as the coding can interfere with the course being recognized as transferable by other institutions. However, when an institution's courses are delivered partially or completely by a partner institution, the partner institution is considered responsible for maintaining the same content, coverage, quality of delivery, and grading standards that would be in effect if the course were delivered by the institution itself.
Institutions have made use of numerous degree partnership models to accommodate specific goals. A partnership may include dual enrolment, or permitting students to attend institutions simultaneously or in succession. Some institutions have developed processes that make dual admission seamless to students, such as calculating combined cumulative GPAs rather than a separate GPA for courses taken at each institution; jointly offered scholarships; and the sharing of timetable/course schedules. A less complex form of partnership would provide qualified students with assurance that they will be accepted at the second institution after completing a specified number of credits at the first institution. Institutions benefit from these partnerships through increased student recruitment, retention, and credential completion.
BCCAT maintains a listing of degree partnerships within the BC Transfer System through the BC Transfer Guide.