Academic Program Review: Purpose and Process


The purpose of academic program review is to guide the development of academic programs on a continuous basis. Program review is a process that evaluates the status, effectiveness, and progress of academic programs and helps identify the future direction, needs, and priorities of those programs. As such, it is closely connected to strategic planning, resource allocation, and other decision-making at the program, department, college, and university levels. During the review process, external academic teams discuss departmental plans for the future including departmental goals and plans to achieve those goals.

The goal of a program review should be the articulation of agreed-upon action plans for further development of the academic program. External academic review teams are invited to consider issues and challenges, and to consult with faculty and administration on future directions. The program review process should focus on improvements that can be made using resources that currently are available to the program. Consideration may also be given, however, to proposed program improvements and expansions that would require additional resources; in such cases, the need and priority for additional resources should be clearly specified.

It is anticipated that the most common unit for review will be a single academic department or a single interdisciplinary program. However, for various reasons, a separate review may be warranted for a subunit of a department; alternatively, related programs that involve or affect more than one department or college may be reviewed together. An entire college, including all of its programs, may be reviewed as a unit, if proposed by the college and approved by the Senior Vice President and Provost.

The review process includes selecting a review team of experts, preparing a self-study document, conducting a site visit by the review team, preparing a response to the review team recommendations, submitting the response and action plans to the Dean, Senior Vice President and Provost, and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa and revisiting progress on action plans.

The Review Process

Colleges are responsible for the periodic review of departments and programs. The Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost (SVPP) provides coordination and guidance on various aspects of the process, to be discussed below.



Tom Brumm and students in a lab


Kelsey Gillen,
Director of Academic Quality and Undergraduate Education,