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Program Review | Policies | CSUSM

Program Review

Definition: A policy outlining the responsibilities for and requirements of the CSUSM academic program review, evaluation, and planning process.
Authority: Chancellor's Office Memorandum AP 71-32, "Performance Review of Existing Degree Major Programs."
Scope: All academic degree major programs.
Responsible Division: Academic Affairs
Approval Date: 08/16/2011
Originally Implemented: 10/26/1998
Signature Page/PDF: View Signatures for Program Review Policy


I. Preamble

A. Program Review at the California State University originated with the Chancellor's Office memorandum AP 71-32, "Performance Review of Existing Degree Major Programs," which asks each campus to "establish a formal performance review procedure for all existing degree programs on campus in order to assess periodically both the quantitative and qualitative viability of each undergraduate and graduate program in the total context of offerings." A summary of the program review is sent to the Chancellor’s Office by the Associate Vice President of Planning, Accreditation, and Assessment (AVP-PAA).

B. The intention of Program Review is to open and maintain dialogue among the program faculty and between all of the parties (the academic unit and various administrative offices, etc.) whose cooperation is necessary for the delivery of a high-quality academic degree program.

C. In adopting this policy, the Academic Senate acknowledges the serious investments in time and effort involved and stands committed to making assessment and sustaining program quality as important aspects of the campus culture. 

II. Definition of terms and abbreviations           

A. Academic unit

1. Refers to the department, program, school, or college that oversees the curriculum for a degree program.  

B. Academic degree programs

1. Refers specifically to baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.

2. Program review will focus on both the academic unit’s capacity to deliver the program as well as the educational effectiveness of the degree program.
a. When colleges/schools or departments manage more than one academic degree, each degree program shall undergo a separate review.
b. It is expected, however, that major sections of the self-study report may be duplicated when more than one degree program is reviewed in the same department or program.

III. Principles

A. The program review process will be central to academic planning, budget, and decisions about allocation of resources.  

B. The program review process will not duplicate, but rather will build upon, other campus-wide processes or reporting activities such as annual assessment reports, annual departmental reports, and strategic planning documents.

C. Program review helps to identify strengths, challenges, opportunities for improvement, and provides a chance to plan for the future.  It is only useful to the extent that it is a systematic, developmental, ongoing process of inquiry conducted by academic programs that includes data from annual assessments.

D. The value of program review derives, in part, from the use of results in programmatic, collegiate and institutional planning, and in resource allocation decisions to meet program needs and help program to improve, especially where correctable weaknesses can be identified.  

E. One outcome of the review process is a plan specifying goals and strategies for program improvement and student learning assessment.  This represents the formative, developmental, and planning phase of the process, once the summative stage, in the form of various reviewers’ recommendations, has passed. For the next cycle of review, this plan becomes an important point of focus.  In time, as current reviews build upon their predecessors, program review, learning assessment, and curriculum development should become a significant and altogether routine aspect of life at CSUSM.

F. Recognizing that program review is labor-intensive and time-consuming, this Academic Senate policy aims to ensure that the process operates under a realistic timeline and that it is sensitive to the effort required. In order to fulfill this commitment, resources must be provided for annual assessment projects, the development of the self study, and the external reviewers. The Provost's office will provide resources for annual assessment projects, external reviewers, and the resources to support faculty in the development of the self-study.  Should budget constraints impact support for program review processes, appropriate adjustments will be made in program review expectations and processes.

IV. Program Review Responsibility

A. Department/Program (hereafter referred to as department)

1. The responsibility for carrying out the program review process lies with faculty that deliver the curriculum for the particular degree program, and they are assisted in this endeavor by CSUSM staff and administration.

2. The department will conduct a candid self-study examining departmental goals and accomplishments (including progress on accomplishing goals set forth in the previous review's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and reviewing the results of annual assessment of student learning outcomes and suggestions from Office of Planning, Accreditation, and Assessment (OPAA) in response to these reports.
a. The self-study will include discussion of the student learning outcomes and assessments, as well as the program's currency, capacity, and academic integrity as outlined in the program review procedures.
b. For specific self-study guidelines, see the CSUSM Guidelines for Program Review.

B. College Deans[1]

1. Deans or their designees are responsible for working with the OPAA to assure the timely completion of the program review.

2. Deans review the self-study for completeness and accuracy prior to the external review visit.

3. Deans provide evaluative comments on the self-study after receipt of the external reviewer report.

4. Deans participate in the development of the MOU.

C. The Program Assessment Committee of Academic Senate (PAC)
The PAC is responsible for overseeing the program review process, for the final response to the department, including recommendations for five or seven-year review cycles, for recommendations regarding program continuation, for meeting with those who develop the MOU, and for reporting to the Academic Senate.

D. Institutional Planning and Assessment (IPA)

1. IPA is responsible for providing timely and accurate data to each program undergoing review. 

2. IPA is available to provide support and expertise for programs that wish to conduct surveys for data collection purposes.

E. Administrative Support

1. The Office of Academic Planning and Accreditation (OPAA) provides administrative support for the entire process. OPAA is also responsible for reporting the results of program review to the Chancellor’s Office.

2. The AVP-PAA will confer with the College Deans and with the Dean of Graduate Studies (DGS) for reviews of graduate programs. 

F. Provost

1. As the Chief Academic Officer, the Provost is ultimately responsible for the entire program review process and reviews and responds to all reports. 

V. Review Cycles 

A. The program review process at CSUSM runs on a five or seven year cycle.

B. The schedule for program review is published in the Academic Master Plan.

C. Generally, reviews of graduate programs will be scheduled at the same time as the review of the undergraduate program(s) within the same discipline.  Departments may submit a request to the PAC, OPAA, and DGS to separate undergraduate and graduate reviews.

D. For programs that undergo accreditation, care will be taken to coordinate program review with accreditation cycles for the discipline (See Section VI of this policy).

E. In the case of new programs, a developmental period of up to five years will be allowed before the first program review.

VI. Periodic Review of Accredited Programs 

A. Any currently accredited academic program may request to substitute the accreditation report for the self study and external review. This request is made to the OPAA.

B. Documents prepared for accreditation, visits from the accreditation body, and reports from the accreditation body will normally be accepted as satisfying components of the self-study report in whole or in part if the accreditation report includes a discussion of assessment and student learning outcomes.

C. Substitution of an accreditation report for a program review will only be permitted if annual assessment plans and reports have been submitted by the program during the period prior to the accreditation process.

VII. External Review

A. Except for unusual situations approved by the AVP-PAA, the DGS (for graduate programs only) and the PAC, external review will be part of all program reviews. 

B. Sufficient funds to cover the expense of the external reviews will be included in the budget of the University. 

C. For specific guidelines, see the CSUSM Guidelines for Program Review.

VIII. Concluding the Program Review Process

A. The Chancellor’s Office receives a summary statement of the assessment section of the self-study, including information about how assessment results have been used to improve the academic degree program. 

B. The actual program review reports remain on campus in the OPAA, online as part of the Program Portfolios, and are the foundation for the next program review.

C. After the faculty of the academic program, the College Dean, and the Provost (or designee), have had an opportunity to study all reports and recommendations, representatives of these three areas and the chair of PAC will meet to discuss recommendations and agree on actions to be taken. 

1.  Based on this conversation, the AVP-PAA will draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that all parties will sign, which will be in effect until the completion of the next review cycle. The MOU is an opportunity for all to agree on a set of desired developmental goals, subject to a corresponding agreement about necessary resources and their availability.

2. This MOU will be used in future planning, budget, and resource allocation processes.

3. Where consensus cannot be achieved, as determined by the AVP-PAA the parties will file separate memoranda outlining their difference in views. These differences will be reviewed by the Senate Chair or his/her designee and the Provost or his/her designee who will work with the involved parties until consensus is reached.  

4. It is understood that College Deans will seek advice related to the MOU from appropriate college governance committees.

5. For specific guidelines, see the CSUSM Guidelines for Program Review.

[1] The term "College Deans" also refers to administrative equivalents, such as Director of a school.