A Bona Fide Academic Requirement1

  • Is a component of an academic program, which is determined to be an essential course, skill, experience, item of knowledge, or outcome for the program that, in the reasonable view of the unit, cannot be waived without fatal consequences for the academic integrity of the program.
  • Must be taught and assessed within a program of study.
  • Senate has mandated that BFARs be developed for all programs at the University of Manitoba.

Please note:

  • A BFAR CAN be accommodated (unless otherwise stated) so long as the accommodation does not result in the compromise of a BFAR.
  • BFAR can NEVER be waived or substituted.2
Examples
  • Student must demonstrate advanced knowledge and critical thinking skills in [insert subject area] commensurate with a Master’s level as required by the [insert program name and/or department].
  • Student must demonstrate the ability to present content knowledge and/or research planning skills [as required by the program] to complete a thesis proposal defence in real-time commensurate with the degree [insert degree name].

Example of what a BFAR statement IS NOT:

  • Student is required to complete 18 credit hours at the 7000 level or above in their field of study.
Options for Developing BFARs

Draft BFAR statements and rationales with program colleagues. Then: Option A (Strongly recommended) Contact The Centre for educational support in drafting statements (BFAR@umanitoba.ca) Note: Advice from Human Rights and Conflict Management, Student Advocacy and Accessibilty, and Legal Counsel can also be provided. Then begin the Senate Approval Process. OR Option B. Skip directly to beginning the Senate Approval Process.

*If you have questions related to BFARs at the University of Manitoba, please contact The Centre (BFAR@umanitoba.ca) for support.

How is a BFAR different from a Supplemental Regulation?

BFARs and supplemental regulations complement one another. A supplemental regulation outlines the program requirements all
students must meet, while a BFAR outlines the academic requirements of a program that cannot be waived.2

Supplemental regulation example: Students are required to complete: Two half-courses at the 7000 level or above in [insert subject area]. (6 credit hours).

BFAR example: Student must demonstrate advanced knowledge and critical thinking skills in [insert subject area] commensurate with the level required by the Master of [insert program name].

Do we need program-level BFARs in addition to the Faculty of Graduate Studies BFARs?

Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) BFARs are umbrella BFARs that are applicable to all programs. They do not include program-specific aspects. Where program-specific requirements exist, they must be included in a program-specific BFAR statement in addition to the FGS umbrella BFAR statement.

For example:

FGS BFAR statement relating to thesis submission:
Students must produce a recorded/published thesis commensurate with degree being sought.

This statement outlines that students must produce a recorded/published thesis at a certain degree level; it does not specify format or language of the thesis requirement allowing for a thesis submitted in any possible format/language to meet the requirement.

Program BFAR statement related to thesis requirement:
Student must demonstrate advanced knowledge and/or research skills as required by [insert program name] to produce a written thesis in English commensurate with degree being sought.

This statement is specific and ensures the thesis must be a written document and the language used must be English to meet the requirement.

Note: A program may choose to only adopt FGS umbrella BFARs if there are no additional program-specific requirements. However, in doing so programs are indicating that they for instance accept all form of theses. For example a student could submit a thesis format of their choosing (e.g., video recorded or interpretive dance) and these would meet the thesis requirement for that program.

Do I need to include a rationale for my BFAR?

YES. The rationale provides the justification for why the BFAR is an essential program requirement. It outlines why the integrity of the program would be compromised if the BFAR was not met.2 If you would like additional information about what to include in rationale statements please contact The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (BFAR@umanitoba.ca).

Do students have to meet FGS and program BFARs?

YES. The following statements will accompany all BFARs:

FGS:
Students must meet FGS BFARs in addition to meeting those as set by their program. Please see program-specific BFAR statements for a complete listing.

Program:
Students must meet program specific BFARs in addition to those set by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS). Please refer to the FGS Academic Guide for further information.


Unless otherwise indicated, students may meet any/all BFARs with or without appropriate and authorized assistive technology/aids. Students must consult Student Accessibility Services (SAS) regarding these procedures.

Process for Obtaining Senate Approval of Bona Fide Academic Requirements for Programs not Subject to External Accreditation[i]

Obtain approval by governing bodies within academic unit[ii], Faculty/College/School recommends proposed BFARs for approval, Submitted proposal to the Faculty of Graduate Studies for consideration by the appropriate Faculty of Graduate Studies Council/Committee(s)., BFARs that are endorsed by the Faculty Council of Graduate Studies (or its designated committee(s)) will be forwarded to the Senate Executive Committee and ultimately to Senate, for Concurrence without Debate.

[i] Programs that are subject to external accreditation must submit essential skills and abilities documents to Senate for approval. The phrase “subject to external accreditation” is being interpreted and applied as follows for the purposes of this exercise. If a regulatory body accredits your program and that body has its own essential skills and abilities document or expects that you will have one, you are required to develop an essential skills and abilities document for submission to Senate for approval. All other externally accredited programs may choose to develop either an essential skills document or a bona fide academic requirements document. Further information on the development and submission of essential skills and abilities documents is available in the document entitled “Developing Essential Skills and Abilities Requirements for Programs Subject to External Accreditation,” (Senate, September 4, 2013).

[ii] Please refer to your Department Council Bylaw and your Faculty/School/College Council Bylaw for information on the authorities these bodies have with respect to recommending course and curriculum changes to Senate.

Where can I find information about BFARs?
  • BFAR development support can be found by contacting the BFAR team at The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (BFAR@umanitoba.ca).
  • To find information about the pathways for developing BFARs and process for senate approval relating to graduate programs please visit the BFAR website: umanitoba.ca/catl/bfar

1. A “bona fide academic requirement” is a component of an academic program, which is determined to be an essential course, skill, experience, item of knowledge or outcome for the program, i.e., those components of a program that, in the reasonable view of the unit, cannot be waived without fatal consequences for the academic integrity of the program. By implication, it may be that not all academic requirements are essential for the academic integrity of a given program, and would not be among the sub-set of “bona fide” requirements. ~ Cooper Commission (2012).

2. “Waiver” means the removal of a criterion for admission, progression or graduation from a program of study. A waiver is an Accommodation, but should never be offered in regard to a Bona Fide Academic Requirement. A waiver does not include a case where a requirement is replaced by another requirement (this is a Substitution), but rather is the complete elimination of a non-essential academic requirement. Deans and Directors may approve Waivers and may delegate this authority to an associate Dean. Such delegations should be made in writing.