Student at graduation with Academic Affairs logo

Guidelines for Structuring a Self-Study

Self-Study Overview

The self-study provides an opportunity for departmental and program faculty to think in a focused and strategic way about the value and quality of the programs they deliver, their scholarship and creative activity, their service and value to the University, their college, and their state. A self-study should be in the range of 15-25 pages, not including appendices (links to websites are preferred, especially for syllabi or CVs.) Guiding principles for the self-study include:

  • Building a basis for continuous self-evaluation and improvement in scholarship, teaching, learning, engagement, service, and extension activities.

  • Focusing on the recent past and key points over the previous review period as context for present and future improvements.

  • Concentrating on the academic degrees delivered, the undergraduate and graduate, student experience, and the scholarly, engagement, extension, service, and other contributions of the department or program.

  • Reviewing program learning goals and assessment of learning in undergraduate and graduate programs.

  • Understanding the current student experience with regard to academics, advising, climate, and career development.

  • Understanding the current faculty composition and profile, the range of faculty scholarly activity, and how the department culture supports the development of excellence.

  • Identifying program strengths and recommendations for improvements.

In some cases, a review will need to address specific program or department issues that are outside of these questions. In such cases, the initiating memo from the dean should specify these other program issues.

Components of the Self-Study

  1. Response to Previous Program Review Recommendations:
    Summarize recommendations from the previous program review and how they were acted upon. If the program has not been reviewed recently, this is not required.

  2. Overview of the Program:
    Describe the mission and goals of the program and how its structure (both of the program and of its governance) support them. Consider the following questions:
    • Who are the current departmental faculty, by rank?

    • What are department’s resources, including facilities, and other assets such as e.g. collections, data resources, computing resources, studios, rehearsal/performance spaces, laboratories, and budgets?

    • What is the program’s external accreditation status, if any, or other external review results recently done?

    • Provide current degree/major requirements as approved for both undergraduate and graduate offerings.

    • How does the mission of the degree programs fit with the home department/unit, the school/college, and the mission of the university?

    • What are the approved learning goals for each of the degree programs offered (i.e. bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees?)

    • What are the degrees’ structures? For example, is there a single undergraduate program in the department, or does it have informal tracks/concentrations, formal named options or certificates?

    • Describe any substantial and structured collaborations with other programs, such as dual, double or joint degrees, and any 2+2 articulation agreements with Wyoming or other community colleges, and benefits of these arrangements.

    • If there are several degrees in the same academic department, how are they related to one another and what impacts do they have on student learning?

  3. Current Departmental Faculty:
    Outline faculty job descriptions, expectations, and accomplishments, including.

    • What are the teaching loads of faculty? Advising and mentoring loads? Research loads?

    • Describe the grant and external funding activities of the faculty, if applicable.

    • Using internal and external gauges of scholarly productivity, describe the quality of scholarly work in the department.

    • Describe significant university, community, statewide, national, and international contributions of the department’s faculty, including scholarly publications, creative activity, service to the university and state, extension and experiment station work, et al.

    • What are the T&P guidelines used by the department and college?

  4. Departmental Community and Climate for Students and Faculty:
    Describe the efforts taken to foster overall diversity, a climate of respect and inclusion, and a sense of community by considering the following:

    • Discuss efforts to welcome, orient, and retain new students. What is offered to connect students within the program, as well as with the greater campus community?

    • Discuss efforts to welcome, orient, and retain new department faculty and staff. What is offered to connect faculty and staff within the program, as well as with the greater campus community?

    • What efforts are there to enhance faculty/staff representation of traditionally underrepresented groups in the field? How does the unit rate its ability to attract and retain a diverse faculty/staff?

  5. Departmental Governance and Resources:
    Describe the department’s structure, resources, and accreditation status.

    • How do the department’s governance model, committees, and hiring criteria lead to active faculty engagement? How does succession planning work for leadership?

    • What are department’s resources, including facilities, collections, data resources, computing resources, laboratories, and university budgets? What are the department’s grant budgets?

    • What is the program’s external accreditation status, if any, or other external review results recently done?

  6. Degree Programs - Assessment and Evaluation:
    Summarize the assessment plan used to evaluate the extent to which students are meeting departmental or program learning goals and how the department is engaged in a coherent process of continuous curricular and program improvement.

    • What has the department learned through assessment of its curricular learning goals? Provide evidence.

    • What changes have been made to curriculum structure or content as a result of assessment?

    • What are the emerging changes in the discipline? What is being done and can be done to move forward and seize emerging/future opportunities for degrees?

    • If relevant to the program, how do leaders within industry, business, government, or non-profit organizations become involved in offering advice and perspectives on the program and the curriculum?

  7. Student Recruiting and Enrollment:
    Analyze current practices and trends to determine if enrollment levels are consistent with plans and resources. Discuss relevant program data in the context of the following:

    • Are enrollment levels consistent with plans, program resources, and career outcomes?

    • What effort has the department/program made to enhance student diversity (traditionally underrepresented groups in field)? Have those diversity efforts been successful?

    • If applicable, what do trends in enrolled students signal about program strength?

  8. Student Advising and Student Support:
    Discuss the process by which students get regular advising and accurate program information. Reflect upon the following:

    1. Undergraduate:

      • Who does advising for the department? Describe how advisors are hired, selected, and trained within the context of the centralized UW advising model. How are students transitioned between advisors when personnel changes?

      • What is the ratio of advisors to students? How often do students to meet with an advisor?

      • What other responsibilities do the advisors have in the unit?

      • What material is available to support advising of undergraduates? How is that information kept up to date and accurate?

      • How are advisor performance reviews conducted?

      • How is the impact of the advising assessed? Is advising in alignment with the UW ACES guidelines?

    2. Graduate and Post-Baccalaureate:

      • How are advisors assigned and matched to students? How many advisees does each faculty member have?

      • How often are program contacts and program information updated and made available online? Is the program information inclusive of program learning goals, program requirements as well as a program-level grievance procedure?

      • How are students transitioned between advisors when personnel changes?

      • How often and in what manner is satisfactory progress monitored? Do students receive written annual feedback on their academic progress? How is the impact of the advising assessed?

  9. Degree Completion and Time to Degree:
    Referencing relevant institutional data and campus goals, describe efforts to help students make timely progress to degree. Include the following in your discussion:

    • Use institutional data sources to examine and evaluate progress to degree metrics and comparison to peers.

    • What efforts have been made to improve progress to degree performance and completion rates?

    • Do students from educationally underrepresented groups (racial/ethnic minority, low-income, first generation in college) succeed in the program at rates comparable to other students? How are equity gaps addressed?

  10. Career Services and Post-Graduation Outcomes:
    Evaluate student career outcomes, exit survey, and alumni survey data, and reflect upon how these outcomes are consistent with program goals.

    • What do students do after graduation? How does the program prepare them for careers or further academic training?

    • What career resources are available to students?

    • What is the range of student career outcomes, and are these outcomes consistent with program goals? Does the program track the career progression of its graduates?

  11. Graduate Student Funding:
    Discuss the department’s student funding data and mechanisms, along with any goals for providing funding guarantees. Include a discussion of funding issues, such as:

    • How is the program ensuring masters and especially doctoral students have adequate funding and taking steps to provide a multi-year funding guarantee upon admission, subject to success and progress towards degree? Are there opportunities for graduate students to secure individual extramural support?

    • To what extent is the program making use of funding for diversity efforts?

  12. Graduate Student Professional Development and Breadth:
    Discuss the professional development opportunities of graduate students and consider the following:

    • How does the program encourage graduate students to participate in professional development opportunities that will enhance their skills and support their career goals?

    • What resources and guidance are available for exploring academic and/or non-academic careers?

    • What opportunities and funding are available to attend and present at professional meetings?

    • To what degree does the program offer teaching experience and teaching-related professional development to graduate students?

    • How does the typical graduate’s program ensure exposure to breadth training? Does the program require a doctoral minor for doctoral students or evaluate other breadth requirements?

  13. Overall Analysis of the Self-Study and the State of the Department or Program:
    What have you learned from the process of this self-study? Outline key findings from the departmental/program’s self-study, including primary strengths and challenges, and priorities the department/program has identified for improvement. Bring to bear and highlight in your analysis the value the department/program contributes to the university, innovations made in degrees and curricular offerings, fundraising and grant-getting accomplishments and goals, research and creative work, and other departmental/program goals and changes that have been made to adapt to changes in the profession and higher education.

Contact Us

Office of Academic Affairs

1000 E. University Ave

Old Main 312

Laramie, WY 82070

Phone: 3077664286


Find us on LinkedIn (Link opens a new window)