The purpose of academic program review is to provide a critical and unbiased assessment of an academic unit’s programs and activities which support its educational, research, and/or service mission. Conducted every 8 to 10 years, these reviews are intended to provide a sharpened focus on areas in which excellence can be achieved that will enhance the national and international stature of the unit. Successful program reviews should have the following characteristics:
- Incorporate expert assessment provided by reviewers outside of the unit. Depending on the unit, these reviewers could be internal to the university, from peer institutions, or a mixture of the two.
- Be forward looking. While assessment of a program’s past performance and progress on goals that emerged from previous reviews are important, priorities for continuous improvement are of greatest concern.
- Be evaluative, not just descriptive. Plans for improvement require judgments about the current status of the programs and activities of the unit. For academic departments, special attention will be paid to student learning outcomes and their assessment; the diversity of curriculum, students, and faculty; and future directions.
The end result of a review is a concise, honest appraisal of a unit’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities in order to enable the unit to strengthen its activities and programs and judge its plans to improve.