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Office of Undergraduate Education

O'Dowd Hall, Rooms 340-342
386 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4454
(location map)
(248) 370-4083

Office of Undergraduate Education

O'Dowd Hall, Rooms 340-342
386 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4454
(location map)
(248) 370-4083

A group of students seated on benches outside, talking and smiling.

Academic Program Review

Academic program review provides the only comprehensive evaluation of an entire academic program, examining the elements which contribute to its success. In addition to improving programs, the academic program review process has several objectives, which are outlined in the following sections.

Self-Study Guidelines

Program review form for programs that have an external accreditation body

Review Purpose
The primary purpose of program review is the improvement of programs, as measured by the quality of the faculty, the students, library and other educational resources, the curriculum, available facilities, and the academic reputation of the program among its peers. Institutions of higher education, like individuals, require some regular self-examination to improve, and the systematic review of academic programs is an integral part of this process of improvement.

In addition to the improvement of programs, program review has several associated objectives or goals. For the individual university, program review helps in long-range planning and in setting both institutional and departmental priorities. It gives administrators and academic leaders critical information about the size and stability of a program, its future faculty resources and student market, its equipment and space needs, its strengths and limitations, and its contribution to the mission of the institution. It helps set goals and directions for the future, and ensures that overall academic plans and budget decisions are based on real information and agreed-upon priorities.

Program review also provides a mechanism for change. Programs evolve slowly; intellectual differences, bureaucracy, time pressures, vested interests, concern for survival, and simple inertia all make change difficult. By creating a structured, scheduled opportunity for a program to be examined, program review provides a strategy for improvement that is well-reasoned, far-seeing, and as apolitical as possible.

Faculty are evaluated for salary increases and promotion and tenure; students are evaluated for admissions, performance and degree completion; courses are evaluated as they are added to the curriculum; and facilities and resources are scrutinized annually in the budgeting process. So why have program review? Program review provides the only comprehensive evaluation of an entire academic program, examining the elements which contribute to its success. Constant scrutiny is unhealthy for any program, but periodic, thorough review will ensure that the program has lived up to its original goals and will identify key areas in which it should be strengthened.

Review Process
The first step in the program review is a program self-study. The self-study is prepared by the faculty of the department and is both descriptive and evaluative; it provides basic information on the nature of the program and gives the faculty’s assessment of the program’s strengths and weaknesses. A thorough self-study process takes about a year to complete and involves gathering data and information from many sources. It should be clearly written and candid, and should adhere to a standard format. A departmental or program self-study is an opportunity to scrutinize the program, to publicize accomplishments and to examine flaws, and also perhaps, the only chance for the department or program to explain itself and demonstrate how it is viewed by its peers. The self-study should contain elements such as the following to provide both opinion about and evidence of program effectiveness.

Once the self-study is complete, units that have accrediting bodies will have a site visit from a team of external reviewers. Those units that do not have accrediting bodies will also have a review team visit (this team will be made up of external reviewers).  The review committee typically reads the self-study report, interviews faculty and students, tours the facilities, meets with the department chair, and interviews the relevant dean. 

The review committee then prepares a succinct report on its findings, including recommendations for changes or enhancements. The department/program prepares its response to the review. The department/program then presents the self-study report, the review committee findings, and the departmental response to the University Committee on Undergraduate Instruction (UCUI) who adds further recommendations and review the process used to insure that the department and program reviews have been conducted according to standard policy and practice. UCUI sends the self-study report, review committee’s findings, departmental response and UCUI’s final recommendations to relevant dean and provost/designees. 

A copy of UCUI’s recommendations is also sent to the department/program. Based on this information, the department chair in consultation with the dean and the faculty will create an enhancement plan. 

Program Review Schedule
Department/Interdisciplinary ProgramReview Initiated, WinterReview Due, March 1
Art & Art History20232024
Biological Sciences20212022
International Studies20202021
Chemistry & Environmental Sciences20232024
Communication & Journalism20212022
Liberal Studies20202021
Mathematics & Statistics20212022
Modern Languages & Literature20252026
Political Science20232024
Religious Studies20202021
School of Music, Theatre & Dance20252026
Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work & Criminal Justice20212022
Women & Gender Studies20252026
Writing & Rhetoric20202021