Academic Program Review Components

Self-Study

The self-study, prepared by the program under review, is not simply a description of the current state of the unit. Instead, the self-study should be a forward-thinking analysis that considers the program's academic goals and outlines what actions are needed to reach those goals.

Although a small team may be assembled to write the self-study document, the development of that narrative should be an occasion 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. Faculty should also seek to include other relevant stakeholders such as alumni, employers, or community members.

Read the complete guidelines for self-study preparation.

Data Provision

Programs gather data needed for reviews, with the Office of Institutional Research offering support for provision of select central data elements. The goal is to alleviate the burden of gathering large amounts of complex institutional data so that program faculty and staff can limit the time spent documenting what has been in favor of describing what should be

It is important to note that the data by itself does not represent the quality of an academic program. Instead, data should be seen as a point from which to start a conversation: what does this data tell us? Are there trends that provide insight into areas of future exploration?

External Review

The involvement of external reviewers is key to receiving an objective assessment of the health and vitality of our academic programs. In addition, these outside constituents are able to learn about the strengths of our programs, which can lead to enhanced external visibility and reputation of the University of Minnesota.

In most cases, the external review team travels to campus to meet with program faculty, staff, and students. In all cases, the team delivers a report that identifies issues, makes recommendations, and offers potential models for improvement based on reviewers’ experience at their home institutions. The reviewer visit, which is typically scheduled over two days but could be longer depending on the size of the program, is coordinated by the program. Provost Office staff will provide sample itineraries and/or work with the program to design a schedule that allows the reviewers to meet with faculty, staff, and students of the program as well as other relevant stakeholders and collegiate and University leadership.

Guidelines for Reviewer Selection

Each review team should include one University of Minnesota faculty member and two (or three, depending on the size of the program) faculty members from other institutions. Professional programs may wish to include a local practitioner as one of the external reviewers. The University of Minnesota reviewer should have expertise in a complimentary field but have no direct attachment to the program. Where possible, this reviewer should be from outside the college or school of the program under review.

Reviewer Selection Each review team should include one University of Minnesota faculty member and two (or three, depending on the size of the program) faculty members from other institutions. Professional programs may wish to include a local practitioner as one of the external reviewers.

Internal Reviewers: The University of Minnesota reviewer should have expertise in a complimentary field but have no direct attachment to the program. Collegiate administration can consult with Provost Office staff to determine whether the internal reviewer would be better coming from outside or within the college or school of the program under review. The internal reviewer is not being enlisted to make judgments about the programs per se, but rather to serve as a resource to the external reviewers, providing a University/collegiate perspective where it would be helpful in the external reviewers' considerations. The internal reviewer is therefore not considered a co-author of the final reviewer report.

External Reviewers: Each external reviewer should be selected for their knowledge and expertise in the program's discipline and have no strong connection to the program. This would exclude former students of the program, former University of Minnesota faculty, those with substantial collaborative associations with program faculty (this includes creative as well as research projects). Programs should consider reviewers from institutions of comparable rank and type as well as from aspirational peers. Programs should also seek to identify reviewers who are eminent scholars in their field and have departmental or collegiate administrative experience.

Programs should generate a list of 10-15 potential reviewers who meet these criteria and submit the names along with each person's institutional affiliation, contact information, to their collegiate program review coordinator. Reviewers will be selected and invited by the Provost's Office in consultation with collegiate administration.

Program Response and Action Plan

This component of the process is critical to ensuring the review process culminates in programmatic improvement. The elements of this component consist of:

  • a written response from the program, including specific proposed goals and action plan for achieving them;
  • a meeting with the program, collegiate, and university leadership; and
  • finalized action plan document, to include expectations for follow up/progress reporting.

A note about confidentiality

To ensure that program faculty can candidly examine areas where improvement may be needed, the circulation of reports generated during academic program reviews will be restricted to members of the program under review (including faculty, staff, and students), the relevant collegiate academic administrators (such as the dean and associate deans), and relevant University academic leaders (such as the provost, vice provosts for undergraduate and graduate education, AHC associate vice president for education, and their senior staff members responsible for program review). However, as a public institution, the University of Minnesota is subject to requests under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Public portions of academic program review reports and related correspondence must be made available upon request, although private information (e.g., private personnel data or private student data) would be withheld or redacted.

More Information

Questions? Please contact Marlo Welshons at welsh066@umn.edu or 612-625-0563.