Academic Program Review

students in classroom

Academic program review consists of on-going, high quality peer reviews of the University’s academic units and programs on a five to seven year cycle. The purpose of program review is to foster academic excellence, to assess achievements and improvements in student learning outcomes, and to provide guidance for faculty and administrative decisions in support of continuous improvement.

Reviews are intended to provide a sharpened focus on program areas in which excellence can be achieved that will enhance national stature and assure the most efficient use of available resources. Plans that are the outcome of program review will guide decisions to develop and allocate new resources.

Each unit will prepare a self-study that is intended to assist an academic unit in understanding its current status so that it can establish clear priorities for improvement over the next five to seven years.

At the outset of the process, the provost will determine the scope of the review, including whether departmental, research area, or school-level review is appropriate, considering, among other factors, unit size and mission.

Program reviews should have the following characteristics:

  1. Reviews incorporate expert assessment provided by reviewers from peer institutions.
  2. Reviews are forward looking. While assessment of a program’s past performance and progress on goals that emerged from the previous program review are important, priorities for continuous improvement are of greatest concern.
  3. Reviews are evaluative, not just descriptive.  Plans for improvement require academic judgments about plans for and the quality of the program, student learning outcomes and their assessment, faculty, students, curriculum, resources, and future directions. Reviews should be certain to address the program's diversity of curriculum, students, and faculty.
  4. Reviews provide a concise, honest appraisal of an academic unit’s strengths and weaknesses in order to judge plans to improve.
  5. Where appropriate, academic program reviews should incorporate recent results from, or preparation for, a discipline-specific accreditation review and not duplicate such efforts.  (With approval of the provost, units may substitute an accreditation review for program review.  As a condition of such approval, units must document how the accreditation review will satisfy the objectives and characteristics of program review outlined here.)
  6. In reviews that are focused on a research area rather than a single department, reviews will consider collaborations across departments and schools and/or opportunities for future collaborations.
  7. Reviews will result in an action plan with an overarching strategic agenda, which will enable the program to achieve eminence in its research and educational programs.
  8. Action plans emphasize improvements that are possible through reallocation of the program’s existing resources.  Such plans should include a timeline, milestones, and measurable outcomes to determine success.