Academic Program Review Self-Study Guidelines

The following outline should be used as the framework for the program's self-study document. Although each of these areas should be addressed, the program should select—through consultation with constituents and collegiate leadership—one to three areas of emphasis that reflect the specific goals or concerns of the program.

The questions within each section are only suggestive and do not need to be answered in the order presented; programs should feel free to consider other questions that best guide their strategic thinking and planning.

While there is not a strict page limit for the self-study, programs should aim for approximately 25 pages (not including appendices). The bulk of the program's effort should be put toward creating opportunities for all faculty, students, and staff to deeply engage in conversations about the program's scholarly direction and what opportunities and challenges are facing to the program. The report itself should only provide the information relevant for the review team to conduct a quality review. In our experience, self-studies that exceed this recommended page limit are not necessarily more useful to the review team.


Describe the program's mission and strategic position.

  • What is the purpose of the program and how does it align with the University's mission?
  • What makes the program distinctive, in the discipline and/or on campus?
  • What is the program's reputation in the field? Who does it see as current peers? Aspirational peers?
  • What trends are emerging within the program's discipline and do these trends suggest a need for a change in mission?

Describe the program's governance and administrative structure.

  • What leadership changes have happened recently and what has been the impact of any changes?
  • How has the program organized its operations and functions? How do program faculty, staff, and students contribute to academic and administrative decisions?
  • Do non-tenured and/or adjunct faculty participate in program governance? Do students?
  • What is the relationship of program leadership to collegiate and campus administration?

Summarize the program's facilities and resources.

  • What kinds of space and facility issues does the unit face?
  • What are projections for future space needs?
  • What is the program's funding mix (i.e., tuition, grants, philanthropic, etc.)?
  • What are the program's specialized space needs (i.e., active learning classrooms, research labs, studio or theatrical space, etc.)?
  • How well does the program use various academic support resources (i.e., Center for Educational Innovation, University Libraries, Office of Information Technology, Global Operations, Office of Public Engagement)?
  • How does the program evaluate how well it uses available funding and human resources?

Teaching & Learning

Describe the student learning goals and outcomes for each of the program's undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree offerings.

  • What are the objectives of study? How are they measured and how well are they being met?
  • Are undergraduate students completing their degrees within 4 years? What percentage of graduate or professional students complete their degrees, and how long do these students typically take?
  • How does the program track undergraduate, graduate, and student placement and what do the results tell you? How has the program used this information?

Describe the program's efforts to ensure quality and viability for each of the program's undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree offerings.

  • How is educational quality defined and assessed?
  • How successful is the program in attracting top students?
  • How do current and projected admissions compare?
  • For professional and graduate programs, are market needs assessed and if so, how?
  • How is student satisfaction assessed and how are the results used to make programmatic decisions?
  • How have programs changed or are planned to change?

Describe how the program ensures instructional effectiveness.

  • What is the program's philosophy for who teaches which courses? How is the teaching load determined and distributed?
  • Are all instructors (including regular faculty, graduate students, adjuncts, or clinical faculty) offered training opportunities to support teaching improvement?
  • What innovations in teaching have been developed or are being contemplated?
  • Has the program utilized new strategies (active learning classrooms, online and/or flipped classes) and to what effect?

Describe the program's academic and career advising efforts.

  • What has been done to support and enhance the quality of undergraduate, graduate, and professional student and postdoctoral advising?
  • How are graduate or professional students mentored?
  • Are all advisors and mentors offered training opportunities to prepare for these roles and support improvement?
  • What opportunities are students given to learn about options after graduation (i.e., post-baccalaureate study, academic or non-academic careers)?
  • To what extent do the career aspirations of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows match the aspirations faculty have for them? When aspirations differ, what is the impact on the advising and mentoring of those students?


Describe the quality and diversity of the program's undergraduate, graduate, and/or professional students.

  • Have there been changes in the quality of the student body?
  • How prepared are students when they begin the program?
  • What significant awards have students received?
  • Have students had any impact on the field, either academically or professionally?
  • What efforts does the program make to recruit, retain, and graduate underrepresented students? How successful have these efforts been?
  • Does the program have success in attracting, retaining, and graduating national and international students?

Describe the undergraduate, graduate, and professional student experience.

  • What processes or procedures exist to ensure the right "fit" of student and program?
  • What financial support is available to students?
  • What efforts are made to integrate international and underrepresented students into the academic fabric of the program?

Faculty & Staff

Describe the quality and diversity of the program's faculty and staff.

  • What awards have faculty and staff received?
  • What efforts does the program make to recruit and retain underrepresented faculty and staff? How successful have these efforts been?
  • How successful has the program been in retaining top faculty and staff? Have there been significant hires or losses recently?

Describe the career development and working climate for faculty and staff.

  • How are junior faculty mentored?
  • What are the expectations of full Professors in participating in mentoring and/or take on increasing leadership within the program?
  • Do faculty and staff find that University policies and programs support their work-life balance and professional advancement?

Scholarly Contribution and Collaboration

Summarize the scholarly work of the faculty and the history of sponsored funds for the program.

  • What are the research or creative strengths of the program? How well do these align with the mission of the program?
  • Are there emerging areas of scholarship that the program should be focusing on? Are there areas that are no longer relevant and should be phased out?
  • How do the research or creative activities of the faculty support the curriculum? How does the program engage students in research or creative activities?
  • How do the program's sources of support compare to those of its peers? Are there funding agencies that could be pursued?
  • How does the program foster and encourage intellectual diversity?

Summarize the scholarly work of the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and the history of sponsored funds they receive.

  • How do the program's sources of support compare to those of its peers? Are there funding agencies that could be pursued?
  • How does the program foster and encourage intellectual diversity?

Describe the program's collaborative culture.

  • How well does the program support the interdisciplinary aspirations of faculty? Of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students?
  • How does the program foster and encourage a global perspective among its faculty and undergraduate, graduate, and professional students?
  • What partnerships do program faculty, staff, and students have with other University programs? Other national and international programs?
  • How does the program engage with the community? How are undergraduate, graduate, and professional students involved in that engagement?
  • What impact have these collaborations had on the program?

Academic Plans

Describe the future directions of the program and how it plans to maintain or enhance its excellence.

  • What are the program's challenges and opportunities?
  • How well is the program currently positioned to reach its academic goals?
  • Assuming persistent budget constraints, how can excellence be maintained or enhanced without additional resources?
  • Conversely, how would the program capitalize on a strategic reallocation of resources from the college or University?