Undergraduate & Graduate Academic Program Review


PURPOSE: Program review is a systematic way to assess the quality of the University of Michigan-Dearbornís academic programs.  In higher education program reviews have five general purposes:  quality assurance, quality improvement, accountability, identification of strategies for improvement, and information collection and synthesis to facilitate prioritization of resources.[1] The results of this process allow the program, department, college and institution to review findings, develop responses, and make strategic decisions regarding program direction, emerging trends in the field and future program expansion or contraction. It is intended to be a comprehensive, coherent analysis that charts a path for program improvement.


Program review includes the following elements:

  1. Program review is evaluative. Program review requires academic judgment and evaluation regarding the quality of the program and the adequacy of its resources in teaching students. Essential to that judgment and evaluation is the evaluation of program quality and capacity by peers and recognized experts in the discipline or field.


  1. Program review is forward-looking. The focus of program review is on the improvement of the program, not simply the documentation of current status and activities. High-quality program reviews make specific recommendations for future changes based on the analysis and synthesis of data and then discuss those recommendations in relation to the long-range plans of the department, college and institution.


  1. Programs review emphasizes academic strength and improvement. All issues, data and elements should be considered in relation to impact on the quality of the academic program and improvements that will allow the program to better serve students.


  1. Program review emphasizes an objective process. Faculty are required to evaluate as objectively as possible their own programs in the creation of a self-study. To underscore the insights and analysis of program faculty and perspectives, the program review process brings faculty and experts from outside the institution into the process. External faculty and experts review the self-study, gather additional data and to make their own evaluations and recommendations as a part of the external review. Both the internal self-study and external review are essential to high-quality program review.


FREQUENCY: Academic program reviews (including both the program self-study and the external review component) occur in an eight (8) year cycle by all programs at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. The program self-study is completed and submitted in year seven (7) with an external review visit following in year eight (8). The fall semester following the external visit begins the next eight (8) year program review cycle. 


GENERAL CRITERIA: Program self-studies should provide data and information on the program, give the faculty and external reviewers the opportunity to evaluate program strengths and weaknesses in light of current efforts and institutional climate, and allow faculty to present a vision for the programís future. The self-study should be informative to the external reviewers who are experts in the field, but also to internal or non-expert stakeholders.




1.  Program Notification

  • The Chief Assessment Officer informally notifies the program representative/coordinator/director, associate dean and dean in January that the program is entering year seven (7) of the program review cycle in the coming calendar year.
  • The Office of Institutional Research forwards a data file to the program at the start of year seven (7) with a standard data set to facilitate the program self-study, and requests notification of any additional unique data needs the program might have outside of the standard data set
  • The Chief Assessment Officer formally notifies the program director, associate dean and dean in September to assure the self-study process is underway and that external review is planned for the following academic year.


2.  Completion of the Self-Study Report


         At the start of year seven (7), the college dean of the program undergoing review will appoint an internal review committee (IRC) normally consisting of program faculty but which may include external members. The dean may also designate a committee chair. 


         At the start of year seven (7) in consultation with the college dean or associate dean, the IRC should identify an individual in the college who will coordinate travel, hospitality and the scheduling of meeting during the external team visit.


         At the start of year seven (7) in consultation with the college budgeting team, the IRC should plan and confirm the budget allocated for the program review and the process necessary for the use of those funds. Program review and the external visit expenses and the associated planning are the responsibility of the college.


         Throughout year seven (7), the IRC plans and implements the program review process, collecting and reviewing data, and writing the self-study report.


         In the middle of year seven (7), in collaboration with the college dean or associate dean, the IRC should select and propose dates for the year eight (8) external visit, and notify the graduate or undergraduate associate provost as appropriate of those dates.


            Typical expenses include:[2]


         External reviewer stipend (Typically $750.00 per reviewer paid upon receipt of the reviewerís report).

         Travel expenses for each reviewer including transportation, hotel and per diem (if applicable).

         Cost of lunch meeting during the visit (Lunch attendees will include the external reviewers and appropriate program faculty, but may also include additional university, college and program faculty or staff).


         The self-study should be completed and approved by the programís college executive committee no later than the end of the winter semester of year seven (7).


         Eight (8) weeks before the external review visit, the associate dean should forward the completed self-study to:

o   The dean of the programís college

o   The graduate or undergraduate associate provost as appropriate

o   The members of the external review team (unless attached to earlier      correspondence with external review team members)


3.  Selection of External Reviewers

  • During the middle of year seven (7), the IRC or program faculty should provide the dean (or deanís designee) with the names and contact information of at least three potential external reviewers.
    • External reviewers are highly qualified faculty or experts who are not affiliated with the campus or the program.
    • It is usually not appropriate to appoint former faculty members, alumni, or research or scholarly collaborators (typically defined as ďarmsí length[3]).
    • Considerations in selection should include history of involvement and success in scholarship, research, and/or teaching in the specific field. In fields where technical expertise is required, a representative from industry may be included.
  • The associate dean forwards the approved list of reviewers to graduate or undergraduate associate provost as appropriate. These reviewers are contacted by the deanís office regarding formal[4] acceptance of this role.


  • For graduate Rackham programs only: The associate provost for Graduate Studies will contact the dean of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies to obtain the name of a reviewer that will represent Rackham.  The associate provost or the Graduate Studies Office will notify the program under review of the name and contact information of the reviewer representing Rackham.  


  • Invitation letters to external reviewers should be accompanied by:
    • The completed self-study report
      • If the self-study is not available at the time the communication is sent, the external reviewers should be informed of the date by which it will be available.  It is the program and collegeís responsibility to assure that all external reviewers have the necessary materials in a timely manner so that adequate preparation is possible
    • A tentative schedule or dates for the visit
    • Information regarding the arrangement of transportation and hospitality including the name and contact information of a point-person within the unit to assist external reviewers with travel and hospitality arrangements.
    • The monetary stipend offered and conditions regarding its receipt


4.  Campus visit

  • In planning for the external reviewer visit, the program IRC, in consultation with the college dean and appropriate associate provost should schedule time for the external review committee to meet with individuals and groups relating to the program review. Typical meetings include the following:
    • Internal Review Committee members
    • Program (or related program) faculty members
    • Program administrators (Dean, Associate Dean, Chair(s) as relevant)
    • Students
    • Chief Assessment Officer and/or program assessment coordinator
    • Advisory boards (if applicable)


5.  Final Reports

  • Each external reviewer will be required to produce and submit a written report after the on-site visit using a template provided that will detail observations, identify program strengths and weaknesses and suggest actions that could improve the programís performance in the future. 
  • The IRC, the dean of the unit, and when appropriate the provost will provide feedback to the program faculty regarding the findings of the external reviewers.
  • The college and program must submit a completed program review package to the University Curriculum and Degree Committee or the Graduate Subcommittee within one month of receipt of all external reviewer reports. The final package submitted must include:
    • The self-study (even if already submitted)
    • Each external evaluatorís report
    • The programís response to the external reviewersí reports

Members of the University Curriculum and Degree Committee or Graduate Subcommittee will accept the completed review packet.

[1] Assessment and Review of Graduate Programs: A Policy Statement. 2005. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools.

[2] These expenses will be paid by the deanís office.

[3] External reviewers who are considered ďarmsí lengthĒ should not be former professors, advisors, mentors, or current or former colleagues; nor are co-authors or major research collaborators unless the work was over ten years prior to the external review.

[4] It is sometimes necessary to informally contact external reviewers to determine their willingness or availability to conduct the review during the time period tentatively identified.  Communication of this nature should be done in consultation with the college dean or associate dean.