Program Review Guideline

Program Review Guideline

The following program review outline is not meant to be prescriptive. This information should be included in all reviews. However, each department will have data and other information specific to its disciplines which it will wish to communicate as part of this study. Departments may also choose to provide the information in a different order than given below.

Download the Program Review Guideline

Executive Summary for the Self-Study

An executive summary of the self-study with overview of the major recommendations for future action under each of the topic areas below should be provided. This summary should be 2-3 pages.

History of the Program and Mission

  • Give a brief history of the program and significant events in its development.
  • Statement of mission for the department, including relationship to and support of institutional mission 
  • How does the department support other majors and the general education program?
  • How was current mission developed and who participated in it?


  • State the major goals of the program
  • What are the expected educational results of objectives of the program? Provide the assessment instrument and data for measuring the achievement of the objectives. How is this data analyzed?
  • What are the major program activities used to support the achievement of these goals and objectives? Describe these briefly.
  • How did the department develop the goals and objectives and how were they prioritized? Are these communicated to faculty and students?  If so, how?
  • Evidence of external demands and internal (campus) needs for the program. How were these determined?

Program Process, Structure, and Reputation

Program Content

  • Distinctive characteristics of the program
  • Evaluate the structure, breadth, and depth of curricular offerings, including interdisciplinary programs
  • Describe desired learning outcomes for students
  • Peer comparisons – How many and who (peer or aspirational)?

Student Support

  • Describe how students are placed in service courses.
  • What orientation, if any, are students given as freshmen or as majors.
  • Describe advising procedures. 
  • Does the department offer tutoring for students in need of assistance?  If so, what are the results of that assistance? 
  • Do majors offer tutoring for other students?  Formal or informal?  How many majors are involved in this effort per year? 
  • Is there out-of-class contact between faculty and students? 
  • Is progress of students monitored?
  • Do faculty members involve students in research, independent study, internships/field experiences or other out-of-class learning opportunities?  What are the outcomes of such involvement? 
  • Does the department involve students in professional organizations and clubs? 
  • What evidence is there that remedial requirements by the department in mathematics and English are appropriate and increase the likelihood of student success in departmental courses?  What is the number of students assisted and the number of students assisting over the last five years?
  • Description of efforts to support entering students, including first-year seminars and learning communities
  • Opportunities for student involvement in program planning and evaluation
  • Description of research opportunities for majors or other students and percentage of majors who do research.  Number of presentations by majors at regional and national conferences.


  • Evaluate the departmental program in the following areas:
    • How do the curricula compare to the standards of best practices as determined by regional and national learned societies?
    • Are the curricula timely both for current and future students?
    • How do the programs compare with other such programs in Virginia?
  • Do departmental programs need to be expanded or reduced in size? How was this determined? Using regional and  national sources, discuss the need for the programs and the placement of majors in the job market.
  • What services does each program provide for non-majors?
  • What are the reputations of departmental programs among students, graduates, employers and other faculty?  What  assessment instruments were used?

Relationship of Program/s to College as a Whole

  • Discuss the process in which faculty work together to develop curricula and do long-range planning.  Include costs and means of prioritizing.
  • To what degree are individual faculty involved in carrying out program objectives?
  • What cooperative or joint efforts are there among departmental programs and, more importantly, with programs from other departments?
  • What is the relationship of these programs to college-wide efforts?
  • What is the relationship of these programs to general education?
  • Discuss faculty involvement in governance and curricular activities in the department and College.


Students (Data for the past 5 years, if available.)

Students in Service Courses

  • Quality and preparedness of freshmen (academic GPA, SAT scores, and other relevant characteristics)
  • Activities and resources that serve these students.
  • Average number of students per section by course level – 5 years


  • Quality and preparedness of majors (at 60+ hours – college GPA, English composition grades, and composition placement) 
  • Number of students who have successfully declared a major
  • Activities and resources that serve students who wish to declare a major in the department, but have not yet met the department’s entrance requirements
  • Number of students who wish to declare a major in the department, but who have failed to meet the department’s entrance guidelines.  What are the stumbling blocks for these students?
  • Types and levels of financial assistance available for majors
  • Numbers/percentages of women, minorities, international students in the population of majors


  • 5-year average of graduates; percentage of total institutional graduates they represent and trend line of graduates (increases or decreases)
  • 5-year average of FTE majors; percentage of total institutional FTE enrollments of junior and seniors they represent and increases or decreases in enrollments
  • Ratio of program-generated student credit hours (SCH)/full-time equivalent faculty (FTE-F) as compared to institutional average (total student credit hours/full-time equivalent faculty for the College)
  • Average number of students per section by course level – 5 years


  • General description of faculty, including year hired, rank, teaching assignments
  • Commitment of faculty to teaching, scholarly, and professional service activities
  • Faculty development opportunities available in the past 5 years
  • Evidence of faculty accomplishments, including participation in service courses and campus-wide initiatives
  • Perception of students and peers regarding the overall level of teaching in the program (Based on classroom evaluations) 
  • Description of criteria for evaluation/reward/recognition of faculty 
  • The quality of faculty credentials as compared to comparable institutions throughout the country (Abbreviated curriculum vitae from each faculty should be included in the appendix of the review) 
  • Adjunct credentials


Discuss adequacy of staffing level of the department given its mission and the following:

  • Student-faculty ratio
  • Number of preparations per semester per full-time faculty over last 5 years
  • Number of contact hours per week per faculty member over last 5 years
  • Number of advisees in the major per full-time faculty member over last 5 years
  • Number of freshman advisees per full-time faculty member over last 5 years
  • Number of full-time faculty who participated in the freshman advising program over last 5 years (SEM)
  • Number of publications per full-time faculty member over last 5 years
  • Number of committees – permanent and ad hoc – per full-time faculty member over last 5 years
  • Number professional presentations per full-time faculty member over last 5 years
  • Number of overload hours and independent study courses per full-time faculty member over last 5 years.  Institutional budget decisions should be taken into account when analyzing these
  • Number of hours taught by adjuncts over last 5 years and average number of hours taught by adjuncts

Other Resources

  • Library – Description of library holdings and an assessment of their adequacy, indicating the levels and quality of access to information; assessment of the level to which students are able to locate and use relevant materials
  • Expenditures for library tools (books, journals, videos, etc.) specific to department 
  • Physical facilities – Overview of the physical environment of the program, including instructional technologies, office space, labs, other equipment, and supplies, assessing their adequacy 
  • Evaluate the adequacy of non-salary based support
  • Where it is appropriate, provide specific recommendations for future modifications in facilities for the program. By what process were these recommendations determined? 


Indicators of Program Quality

  • Evidence of student demand for entry/transfer into the program
  • Evidence of quality of applicant pool (with 60+ hours – college GPA and English composition grades)
  • Evidence of student retention in major
  • Number of graduates
  • Evidence of student mastery of generic skills (Core competencies)
  • Evidence of student achievement of specified learning outcomes in the major, especially as seen in the capstone.  Analysis of trends over the last 5 years
  • Evidence of graduates finding employment (alumni survey) or continuing their education (clearing house/graduate school)
  • Evidence of program quality derived from surveys/interviews of current students, graduate, employers
  • External recognition of students (employers, graduate schools) and faculty

Overall Assessment of Program Strengths, Weaknesses and Concerns

Base on the foregoing information, what is the department pleased about and what are its principal concerns?

Strategic Planning

  • What are the goals of the department for the next five years, given this self-evaluation?
  • What will the major priorities for the department be?
  • What specific recommendations do you have for the improvement of the quality of the department?  How have you used assessment results to determine these recommendations?
  • Plans for implementation and cost of implementation
  • Specific steps you can initiate. If you had additional resources, to what priorities would you allocate them?

Follow-up Process

When the review is completed, the department, in collaboration with the administration, will choose an outside consultant to evaluate its program review document.  The resulting report will be reviewed in an exit conference with the reviewer, the department chair, the chancellor, the Provost, and the Dean.  Within three months after the program review, the department will prepare a plan of action to address issues raised through the self-study process and the evaluator’s recommendations.  The department will report on the results of this putting this plan in action in their annual report.

The Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean will ensure that these action plans for improvement are included in the Institutional Effectiveness planning process.

Last updated in 2006.

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