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Process for Institutional Review of Academic Programs

Step 1: Annually, the Provost’s Office provides a list of departments and programs due for review to Deans and Program Directors

Annually (see timeline), the Provost’s Office will remind the deans and directors of reviews that are scheduled for the upcoming year, and of those which are in the fifth year of the 7-year cycle and due to be charged with program review the following year. The dean or provost may initiate a review at any time If deemed necessary

Step 2: Dean or Director Initiates the Program Review

Upon notification by the Provost in the Spring term (usually no later than February), the review is initiated by a charge memo from the dean to the lead member of the department’s faculty, usually the department chair or head. The Provost’s Office will provide a charge memo to directors of independent academic programs. The charge memo will include the following elements:

  1. A request that a self-study be developed and a request that a lead study director be appointed. This director may be the department chair or head, or their designee;
  2. A description of specific issues to be addressed, such as degrees offered in the department or program, characteristics of students and graduates, faculty activity including scholarly and creative activity, extension and experiment station activity, advising, mentoring, service, and teaching;
  3. A due date for completion and submission of the self-study, typically in late November of the following Fall term;
  4. Directions for how to obtain assistance with data resources;
  5. For programs that have undergone a previous review, the dean’s summary memo from that previous program review is attached for reference.

Step 3: Program Faculty Prepare the Self-study

The program faculty prepare a self-study according to the instructions in the charge memo, the self-study template and guidelines. The self-study should include institutional data wherever possible. The self-study should reflect on the recent past and present to provide context for the external reviewers, but need not review the entire previous seven years in detail. The self-study will also serve as a reference against which progress can be measured at the next program review.

The study should also reflect on the value the department and programs contribute to the university, innovations made in degree programs and curricular offerings, accomplishments related to private fundraising and grant and contracts, research and creative work, and other departmental/program accomplishments that have been occurred to adapt to changes in the profession and higher education.

When complete, the self-study is submitted to and approved by the dean or to the university official who requested that it be prepared, before it is forwarded to the Office of the Provost.

Step 4: The external team is appointed and carries out the review

The external review team is comprised of three or more experts appointed and convened by the Provost. In general, the majority of the team will come from outside of the university, but members may also come from programs or departments within the university as long as they are not affiliated with the programs under review. The program faculty, in consultation with the dean, will provide the Provost with a list of possible reviewers who have familiarity with the discipline and are outstanding leaders in the field and/or higher education. A member of the program faculty should be appointed to serve as a liaison to the external review team.

The Provost’s office will provide the external review team with a written charge that outlines the expectations of their work. This charge will specify the chair of the committee and will provide guidelines for the work of the committee and a due date for the report. Their charge will generally be to review the self-study and to collect additional data, feedback, and information that will speak to the quality of the department and programs during a campus visit. A sample charge letter provides context for the faculty preparing the self-study. A sample external review team schedule is here.

The department liaison will be responsible for developing a visit schedule, in consultation with their Dean and the Provost’s Office, and for scheduling required meetings for the review team. The chair of the committee is responsible for convening the meetings, setting the meeting agendas, making any specific assignments to review team members, overseeing the process, producing the review report, getting feedback from the committee, and submitting the final APR report to the Provost’s Office.

Step 5: Completing the Academic Program Review

The external review team report is submitted to the Office of the Provost which will immediately provide the report, along with a cover memo and timeline for formulating a response, to the relevant Dean, Department Head, or Director. After departmental review, the dean or dean’s designee will lead a discussion with the department about the program review documents, the self-study, the APR review committee report, and the program’s response, which will include formulation of action items that support UW’s strategic plan and the program’s mission.

The dean or designee, in consultation with the department head, prepares a final summary of the review. This summary identifies program strengths and recommendations for improvement or any requirements and action items for follow-up. The dean and department head sends the final summary of the review, the external APR review team’s report, and the program’s response, as outlined below, to the AVP for Undergraduate Education, AVP of Graduate Education, and the Provost.

Step 6: Progress Report on Academic Program Review

One year after the review is completed, the department or program, in consultation with the Dean, will prepare a progress report for the Provost on the status of implementation of action items resulting from the program review. The Provost’s Office will meet with the program to discuss the progress report.

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Academic Program Review



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