Academic program review

Academic program review

Academic Program Review is part of the University Program Review and Accreditation Office. Return to the main UPRA site 

Purpose and guiding principles

The Arizona Board of Regents (2-208) requires Academic Program Reviews at least once every seven years. Periodic program reviews provide a mechanism for faculty to evaluate the effectiveness, progress and status of their academic programs on a continuous basis. At Arizona State University, the Executive Director for the University Program Review and Accreditation (UPRA) Office also serves as the Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) for ASU with the Higher Learning Commission. The UPRA Office in the Office of the University Provost coordinates the Academic Program Review process, which covers all program inventory of an academic unit including undergraduate and graduate programs as well as other curricular offerings housed within the unit under review.

The program review process is intended to provide a comprehensive assessment of the current status of an academic unit based on its programs, activities and achievements since its last program review while also providing the unit the opportunity to think strategically regarding its curricular offerings and its future direction. In doing so, the unit provides comparisons with its peers, identifies strengths and weaknesses in its curricula and pedagogy; assesses student quality and learning outcomes; provides an account of faculty contributions in teaching, research/creative activities, and service; assesses resource availability and needs; and summarizes special features or services provided by the unit. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the program review should allow the unit, in conjunction with the university, to plan to build on existing strengths, maximize opportunities for growth and innovatively problem solve.

APR for units with specialized accreditation

Arizona Board of Regents Policy allows specialized accreditation reports to substitute for an APR, although expectations are that areas missed in the specialized review are addressed separately.  For example, ABET reviews only undergraduate engineering programs, so the UPRA Office also gathers a review of graduate programs using a modified self-study template (see the example from the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering). 

The APR process allows the unit to evaluate thoroughly and candidly:

  • The mission and goals of the program and it's relation to those of the university.
  • Its future direction and strategic initiatives.
  • The reputation of the program among peers in the discipline.
  • The educational objectives, curriculum, and student learning outcomes of undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • The quality of teaching and retention and graduation rates for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • The quality and diversity of faculty and staff (including retention rates for underrepresented faculty) and their contributions to program mission and goals.
  • Resources (e.g., laboratories, physical facilities)
  • Readiness for accreditation, if appropriate.

The guiding principles for the APR process include:

  • The process should be broadly participatory involving faculty, students, staff administrators, and relevant community constituents.
  • The APR should provide a framework for excellence; an opportunity to explore, enhance, and integrate student learning and faculty teaching, service and scholarly efforts into the unit's mission and goals.
  • The process should facilitate short-term and long-term strategic planning in areas such as curricula development, resource allocation (e.g., financial, physical), faculty/staff hiring/workload and research foci.
  • The APR provides the opportunity for the university to account for its use of public resources and facilitate relationships with its various constituencies.

Those directly responsible for the APR process should familiarize themselves with all parts of the manual along with the related checklists and appendices