Project History

Combed Marble






Spring 2014, members meet with representatives of Ontario’s Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU) to outline the project and discuss the process for establishing the proposed university college under the province’s Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act. The Project is invited to submit a report for a preliminary review to determine its feasibility from the regulatory and policy standpoints of the Ministry and the Minister’s Office.

December 2014, the Project submits its Proposal for a Digital Humanities University College.

April 2015, the Ministry’s Universities division reports that the Proposal has been circulated to all governmental stakeholders and has been found compatible with all ministerial policy considerations and strategic priorities. The Project is invited to submit a formal application.

May 2015, work begins on applications for consent to establish a university college and to offer the programs proposed by the Project. As part of preparations for these submissions, members launch surveys of young Canadians on social media and begin canvasing industry and academic leaders to determine demand for the proposed credentials.

April 2018, the Humanities Digital Degrees Project is incorporated under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.

May 2018, the Project submits its application for consent to establish a university college.

June 2018, the Board of Governors holds its first meetings and elects the Project’s senior administrators.

July 2018, the Project is registered as a charity by the Canada Revenue Agency.

November 2018, the MTCU advises that it has begun its review of the HDDP’s institutional application.

September 2019, the HDDP successfully completes Stage 1 review by the Ministry and the Minister’s Office of its application to establish an entirely new digital postsecondary institution, the Humanities University College of Canada, and to offer programs in English, French, History, and Philosophy. The Minister refers the HDDP’s application for review by the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board.

April 2020, the HDDP completes and submits its draft dossier for the PEQA Board’s Readiness Review process.

June 2020, PEQAB completes its readiness review and recommends submission.

July 2020, the HDDP submits its institutional application for consent to establish the new institution and to use the term “University College” in doing so to PEQAB.



The Project relied for general data about employer demand on surveys conducted by Statistics Canada, the MTCU and affiliated agencies, and by employer organizations such as the Canadian Conference Board. These surveys consistently document high levels of dissatisfaction with the literacy and thinking skills of graduates of current university programs among a majority of respondents.

The Project also canvassed industry leaders and members of graduate and law school admissions committees. Employers and academics replied almost unanimously that if they could hire / admit graduates of the programs proposed by the Project, they would.

To measure demand and find out what prospective humanities students are looking for, the Project launched surveys on its website and supported them on its social media pages. The surveys were aimed at 18 to 24-year-old students living in Canada and having an interest in the humanities. At the time the Project completed its submission for the Ministry, 759 full sets of responses were included. Both the 3-question short-form and the 24-question long-form surveys remain open, and the Project encourages all prospective students to participate so that programs can reflect their priorities as closely as possible.

After first being asked to indicate which branch of the humanities they were interested in studying, respondents were asked whether they would prefer to study online or on campus. Results showed that 30% of prospective humanities students would prefer a fully digital degree to one taken at a physical campus.

Respondents were then asked to compare online humanities programs outlined on Ontario’s public universities’ portal with those outlined on the Project’s site and say which they preferred. Despite (or because of) the demanding workload and rigorous requirements of the programs outlined by the Project, they were preferred by 28% of respondents overall, and by 47% of the respondents who had indicated a preference for online programs.

When the results from the question on program content (public / HDDP) are overlapped with those from the question on program format (online / on-campus), the surveys show that 10% of all respondents expressed a strong interest in an HDDP program. Given that the Project’s academic and financial plans suppose a market share of slightly less than 0.09% of Ontario humanities students, and a far lower proportion of extra-provincial humanities students, the survey results indicate that student demand would exponentially exceed the enrolment projections anticipated in the Project’s plans.



The Project’s institutional application is currently before the Postsecondary Educational Quality Assessment Board. Once the institutional application has been completed, the Project will submit its program applications simultaneously the fall of 2024.

The Project aims to complete all phases of the province’s consent processes by the end of 2024, and to open its portal to students in the fall of 2025.