Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) has collected a full series of program review related KnowledgeBase (KB) documents into the Program Review KB Topic Library. Please refer to this library for an overview of program review, the step-by-step process for five- and ten-year reviews, program review templates (e.g., committee charge memo, self-study report, review committee report, etc.), select resources to support program review, and school/college and university program review contacts.
Program review provides a time for program faculty to analyze the quality of their academic programs as a whole, to affirm ways that the program is working well, and to implement improvements. Program reviews must be completed at least once every ten years under UW–Madison faculty policy.
The University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) is the governance body with responsibility for program review policy. Program review oversight is coordinated by the director of APIR, on behalf of the provost.
The deans hold primary responsibly for initiating program review and for seeing that program review is carried out. The program faculty have responsibility for the self-study and for assuring the quality of the student experience.
The director of APIR asks deans to provide an annual update on program review activity in their school/college. This information is used for reports to the UAPC, to the UW System Board of Regents, and to meet a requirement for institutional accreditation.
The University Academic Planning Council has endorsed expectations that academic units advancing proposals for new academic programs or academic program changes must be up-to-date on program review for all of their programs as an indication of capacity for regular attention to program quality. (See Provost Mangelsdorf memo of March 2015.)
Five-Year Reviews: All new academic programs (degree/majors, options, certificates) undergo a first review approximately five years after implementation. (Guidelines for Conducting Five-Year Reviews of New Programs [KB]).
Ten-Year Reviews: Academic programs (degree/majors, certificates) and/or departments undergo a review initiated by the dean on a regular cycle, required at least once every 10 years. At times, reviews may be requested for special circumstances. (Guidelines for Conducting Ten-Year Reviews of Continuing Programs [KB]).
Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (GFEC) Three-Year Check-Ins: In 2014, GFEC instituted a Three-Year Check-In for newly approved graduate-level programs and certificates prior to their first formal university review, which occurs in the fifth year. The purpose of the check-in is to provide program faculty and staff the opportunity to assess the implementation of the new program and determine what mechanisms might be needed for sustained student success.
Low-Award Producing Programs: When an academic program is low-producing, as defined by the university’s policy, the director of APIR will notify the relevant dean's office. The notification will include a request to conduct an immediate review and report back on the status of the program in a specified time period using the Low-Producing Academic Programs Reporting Form. In general, either a compelling case will be made for continuation or the low-producing programs will be discontinued or reorganized. See policy UW-1008 Low Award-Producing Academic Programs and the List of Current Low-Award Programs for details.
Suspended Admissions: Programs may suspend admissions for no more than three years with UAPC approval. Within the three-year window, the program faculty must decide to close the program or reopen it, and send a proposal to the Office of the Provost for UAPC consideration. The requirement for a three-year report is in the program review schedule. Consult the relevant guidelines for more detail (degrees/majors, certificates).
Specialized Accreditation: Specialized accreditation reviews are conducted by professional organizations and typically require a self-study and an outside evaluation team. For undergraduate and professional programs, the accreditation review meets the requirement for program review. However, for graduate programs, accreditation reviews are often not sufficient to meet program review standards. Programs that have specialized accreditation include Business (BBA and MBA), Engineering, Medicine (MD), Nursing, Pharmacy (PharmD), Law, and Veterinary Medicine (DVM). For a full listing of UW–Madison accredited programs, see the Data Digest.
Annually, deans’ offices provide an update on the program review activity in their school/college. This report is provided in response to a request for information from the Office of the Provost/APIR and is a reminder of what programs are due or over-due for review. The information is compiled into a mandated annual report to UW System Administration for the Board of Regents. An annual report on program review to the UAPC focuses on any patterns that are evident from the deans’ reports and points out programs that have not been reviewed in 10 years and low-enrollment programs.
Program Review Status Tracker: APIR has created a Program Review Status Tracker to help schools/colleges stay current on the status of program review within their departments. By accessing the Status tab of the Google Sheet, it is possible to search by school/college, department, program, and/or review status and see the status of any/all program reviews taking place. This includes not only the university’s mandated five/ten-year reviews, but also the GFEC three-year check-In and accreditation reviews (as applicable).
UW–Madison Reports to UW System Administration (UWSA): These reports are created in response to a request from UWSA in order to meet Board of Regent policy. These reports are completed annually, and current and past reports are available here: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008
UAPC Report on Program Review: This report is created annually in keeping with the UAPC’s role in policy oversight. Current and past reports are available here: 2019-20 (September 2020), 2018-19 (September 2019), 2017-18 (September 2018), 2016-17 (September 2017), 2015-16 (September 2016), 2014-15 (September 2015), 2013-14 (September 2014), 2012-13 (September 2013), 2011-12 (September 2012), 2010-11 (September 2011), 2009-10 (April 2011), 2008-09 (January 2010)