Academic programs are generally expected to have robust enrollments and awards. Sufficient enrollment and award production are signs of program health and the engagement of both program faculty and students in the program. Low levels of enrollment and awards are signals that the program should be reviewed.
UW–Madison has had a long-standing low-producing policy that set a threshold of less than five degree/major awards in five years for programs at all levels. UW System also has had a threshold for undergraduate programs of 25 degrees in a five-year period for degree/majors that excluded programs with counterpart offerings at less than half of all UW institutions and world language programs. UW–Madison routinely exceeded the UW System threshold and was functionally consistent with UW System policy because of the exclusions.
In 2019, UW System revised the system-wide low-producing policy. The 2019 policy removed the exclusions for undergraduate programs offered at less than half of UW institutions and set a threshold for master’s level programs. The 2019 policy also added reporting requirements. These changes are driving changes to the UW–Madison low-producing program policy to maintain alignment; the required changes are reflected in this revised low-producing policy.
Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) will remind deans' offices annually in the fall when the degree trends are updated that they have programs on the low-producing programs list.
Each January at the time of the mid-year request for updates on program review, APIR will ask deans' offices for an update on the status of low-producing programs and any action being taken. Each year in May, at the time of the program review report, APIR will ask deans' offices for a formal update on actions taken for low-producing programs.
In general, the expectation is that either a substantial reason or reasons will be offered for continuation, or the low-producing programs will be discontinued or reorganized. For some programs, they may award few degrees because they serve a specialized audience or fill a specialized role in the program array. For other programs, when few degrees are awarded it may be a signal that the commitment of program faculty has waned or that the program does not serve student or societal needs.
The following possibilities may be considered for low-producing programs that no longer serve students and faculty:
For low-producing programs that have substantial reasons for continuation, a short written report will be prepared and submitted at the time of the annual program review reporting based on the following criteria and other criteria that may emerge:
The director of APIR and the Provost will review reports on the status of low-producing programs. In keeping with UW System policy and requirements, updates will be provided annually to UW System in the annual program array report submitted each summer. A summary of this information is also provided to the Board of Regents. Programs should use the Low-Producing Academic Programs Reporting Form to organize the report.
The annual program review report is also presented to the University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) for discussion and any formal actions associated with program change, merger, or discontinuation are considered for approval by governance groups including the University Academic Planning Council. Thus, this policy has regular faculty governance oversight.
06-21-2010, 06-16-2016, 04-16-2020