DePaul University Academic Affairs > Leadership Resources > Assessment & APRC > Academic Program Review > Guidebook


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Welcome to DePaul University’s academic program review (APR) process. This guidebook is designed to provide information about the purpose and process of APR. Although APR is a requirement for maintaining accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, the two-year process we have developed is designed for units to evaluate and study all aspects of their academic programs, including curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular elements, with the goal of identifying activities and resource priorities that the units believe will lead to academic program improvement.

DePaul University’s Academic Program Review process is a reflective and analytical process.

The purpose of program review is to promote the 1) continuous quality improvement of 2) academic programs and the larger University and to do so in a manner that is 3) responsive to the mission, 4) faculty-driven, 5) focused, 6) collegial, 7) data-based, 8) contextual, 9) adaptive, and 10) that results in an accountable plan of action.

Each component is discussed below:

(1) Continuous quality improvement: The improvement of overall academic quality is an ongoing objective. The intent of APR is to support each unit in developing and maintaining its own continuous, naturally embedded system of academic program review. Within such a system, periodic academic program review serves as an opportunity to consider globally the strengths and challenges of the unit. 

(2) Individual academic programs and the larger University: Quality is systemic. While APR originates at the program level, the analysis expands to incorporate activities and support services at the department, school/college, and University levels. In addition, multiple related units are scheduled for review per cycle with an emphasis on increasing interaction and reflection between and among units.

(3) Responsive to the mission: APR is contextualized within DePaul’s Vincentian mission, university learning goals, and strategic plan. APR seeks to enhance learning in a unit and among units and to further the evolution of a university culture characterized by ongoing institutional self-analysis that leads to continual program improvement.

(4) Faculty-driven: Faculty are responsible for the curriculum; therefore, APR is a faculty responsibility. The Academic Program Review Committee (APRC) is comprised of faculty from across the University. It is formed by the Faculty Council and charged with overseeing the APR process. The APR process also requires units to form faculty-appointed self-study teams to lead the review process and ensure full faculty engagement.

(5) Focused: APR is conducted in a two-year timeframe. Each unit identifies important issues during the first year or planning stage of APR, addresses those issues required by the process, and reports accordingly to the APRC, unit faculty, Dean, and Provost. APR requires meaningful reflection that focuses on areas identified by the unit’s faculty as well as areas across units that the APRC identifies. Complete re-justification of programs and the production of lengthy reports are not APR goals.

(6) Collegial: APR seeks to support and sustain conversations among university constituents that lead to identifying and analyzing a unit's strengths and areas for improvement. Initially, these conversations are unit- and college-based; however, as the process moves forward, they also involve perspectives from colleagues across the University (i.e., the Academic Program Review Committee [APRC], Center for Teaching and Learning [CTL], Institutional Research and Market Analytics [IRMA], University Mission and Ministry, and University Library), and beyond (external reviewers), as well as administrators from Academic Affairs. By including multiple perspectives, APR promotes university-wide understanding of the varied disciplinary and professional languages and norms that comprise not only the unit but also the University. In addition, APR stimulates a culture of continuous reflection, internal research, and collegial accountability that is both program-based and university-wide.

(7) Data-based: APR facilitates plans of action supported by analyzed data. The APRC, in conjunction with IRMA, supports internal research and data collection. IRMA continually refines the University’s academic information systems to support decision-making at the unit, school/college, and university levels. As much as possible, claims made at all levels of the process and by all voices are to be supported by data.

(8) Contextual: APR, through the APRC, encourages a cross-discipline/cross-profession dialogue and accountability for the University’s curricular programs as a whole. The APR process combines the strengths of internal review, best understood within the context of DePaul’s mission and array of programs, with external discipline-specific review, ensuring that academic programs reflect current disciplinary knowledge and practices.

(9) Adaptive: APR is dynamic, reflective, and evolving. To this end, the overall purpose of continuous improvement is paramount while the specific features of the process may be modified as needed for any individual unit to ensure the purpose of review is met.

(10) Accountable plan of action: The purpose of APR is to identify initiatives for improving academic quality, i.e., initiatives supported by both data and broad-based understanding. To this end, APR results in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the program, the school/college, and the University. This document outlines agreed-upon courses of action that the unit will take over one to five years to improve academic quality.  It also identifies resource support priorities for academic improvement. 

All graduate and undergraduate degree granting programs, general education, and certificate programs within academic units are reviewed during an APR megacycle.

APR does not include Centers and Institutes unless those Centers or Institutes have credit-generating academic missions and impacts, in which case the review is linked with its academic unit. Similarly, units whose academic endeavors are supported by Centers/Institutes housed in the units or closely connected with them will identify how those Centers/Institutes support effective teaching and learning and faculty and student scholarship and creative activities.

APR does not include support units within Academic Affairs. These units are reviewed as part of the annual performance reviews and through their annual reports. Faculty review the adequacy of the support provided by these units as part of APR. 

MEGACYCLE III (2017-2028) 

An APR megacycle includes all colleges/schools, Liberal Studies, and centers/institutes that meet the criteria for program review. The current megacycle—Megacycle III—consists of 10 two-year cycles:

Cycle 1 (2017-2019): College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (LAS) Humanities Programs

Cycle 2 (2018-2020): College of Computing & Digital Media

Cycle 3 (2019-2021): College of Science & Health (CSH) Natural Sciences, Health Science, and Mathematics Programs

Cycle 4 (2020-2022): Driehaus College of Business (Undergrad and KGSB) and Cross-College Programs 

Cycle 5 (2021-2023): Liberal Studies Programs (including Honors) 

Cycle 6 (2022-2024): College of Education (Undergraduate and Graduate), The Art School, and The Theatre School

Cycle 7 (2023-2025): LAS Interdisciplinary Programs (Undergraduate) and School of Music

Cycle 8 (2024-2026): LAS Interdisciplinary Programs (Graduate) 

Cycle 9 (2025-2027): College of Law, College of Communication, CSH School of Nursing, and CSH Department of Psychology 

Cycle 10 (2026-2028): LAS Master’s of Social Work, LAS Social Sciences, and LAS School of Public Service and Public Policy Studies Program 

Cycle 11 (2027-2028): HLC-NCA Preparation and Review and Revision of APR and Annual Assessment of Student Learning (AASL) Processes

KEY PARTICIPANTS: APR includes the following constituencies:

Academic Program Review Committee (APRC): The APRC oversees the APR process. The committee is made up of faculty members from each of the University’s colleges and schools. They are appointed by Faculty Council and serve three-year terms. The Committee meets quarterly during the academic year and may from time to time call an executive session of its faculty members.

APRC Director/Chair: The APR Director coordinates the APR process and serves as Chair of the APRC. The Director/Chair is a faculty member who has served on the APRC and is appointed by the Provost in consultation with the members of the APRC and Faculty Council. The Director/Chair reports both to the Faculty Council and to the Office of Academic Affairs. 

APRC Ex-Officio members: In addition to its faculty representatives, the APRC also includes non-voting ex-officio members from the following offices: Academic Affairs, University Libraries, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and the Office of Institutional Research & Market Analytics (IRMA).   Ex-officio members serve as advisors to the committee and do not serve on subcommittees that work directly with units participating in review. Ex-officio members are chosen at the initiative of the APRC Chair in consultation with the APRC and the Associate Provost for Student Success and Accreditation on an ad-hoc basis to advise the APRC and to share information from their offices in support of the review process.

APRC Subcommittee: APRC subcommittees are made up of APRC faculty members and are assigned to support units conducting APR. Subcommittees are responsible for facilitating APR in accordance with the APR Guidebook, assisting units with the processes and procedures of program review, examining and providing feedback to APR documents during APRC meetings.

Office of Academic Affairs:  Academic Affairs provides guidance and support for the APR process. The Provost, as chief academic officer, has final authority over all academic programs and is responsible for any university-level commitments in the MOU.  The Associate Provost for Student Success and Accreditation is an ex-officio member of the APRC and, along with the APRC Director/Chair, serves throughout the review process as a liaison to the Provost.  The Associate Provost also coordinates the external review process, contacting reviewers recommended by the unit.  Both the Provost and the Associate Provost sign the MOU, and in so doing recognize the unit’s priorities. The research associate in the Office of the Associate Provost provides research support and assists the APRC Director/Chair in facilitating the APR process. 

Unit Self-Study Team: A unit’s self-study team coordinates the APR process for the unit. Generally three to five full-time faculty members (tenured or tenure-track) serve on the team, with one member serving as chair. APRC members may serve on self-study teams but not as chairs. At its discretion, the self-study team may also include part-time faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The team may not be chaired by a faculty member holding administrative appointment within or over the unit faculty unless the unit has reason to request otherwise. The team plans and implements the unit’s research plan, prepares the unit’s program review documents, and engages in deliberations leading to the Memorandum of Understanding (See Key Steps #1 below).

Unit Department Chair/Program Director: The unit’s department chair/program director supports APR, but the process itself should be conducted by the self-study team to ensure that it is faculty–driven. The self-study team should inform the unit chair/director of its activities and obtain input from the unit chair/director during the process, especially regarding the content of APR documents and the list of potential external reviewers. The unit chair/director will also sign the MOU, and oversee the implementation of the MOU.

Unit Dean: The dean of the unit reviews the unit’s research plan and provides input regarding its content prior to its review by the APRC. The dean also provides input, in writing or in person at an APRC meeting, regarding the unit’s research report. The dean also meets with the unit and the APRC Director/Chair to initiate the writing of the MOU. Finally, the dean signs the MOU and in doing so recognizes the unit’s priorities within the college and will work with the unit to address them as College and University priorities allow.  

External Reviewer(s): Units undergoing APR that do not undergo outside accreditation or other external reviews shall, in consultation with the unit chair/director and unit faculty, identify potential external reviewers.  The role of the external reviewers is to 1) evaluate the intellectual currency of the academic program, both undergraduate and graduate, and the overall quality of faculty scholarship, and 2) provide consultation on areas of interest and concern that emerge through the process of program review. The Associate Provost for Student Success and Accreditation coordinates the scheduling of external reviewers, including travel reimbursements and stipends.

KEY DOCUMENTS: Units conducting APR submit the following documents (guidelines for each document are included in Section 5; a schematic organizer of the APR timeline is in Appendix A): 

1. The Program Profile is an overview of the current status of a unit’s academic program(s), including strengths and challenges, and an analysis of University-provided data. It provides the unit an opportunity to identify questions of concern or opportunity that might be part of its self-study. It also includes a review and reflection of program learning outcomes and prior assessment projects, with the opportunity to revise learning outcomes and curriculum maps, as needed (DUE: Year 1, Final Draft: February 15; NOTE: A draft of the Profile is due in early December, with APRC feedback provided by January 15).

2. The Unit’s Research Plan outlines the questions the unit will answer in its self-study, including descriptions of data collection methods and any additional data that the unit will need to answer the questions. At least one self-study question should assess student work for one or more learning outcome (DUE: Year 1, late April). 

3. The Unit’s Research Report presents the findings and analyses of the self-study questions. Based on the analyses, the unit identifies possible MOU items and areas in need of additional data collection. The Research Report must present the data collected as part of the self-study and a summary of data collection methods (DUE: Year 2, December 15).

4. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) identifies actions the unit will pursue subsequent to completing APR. These actions are identified as one-year or two- to five-year activities. It also includes common issues and opportunities that affect other units across the University and opportunities for collaboration with other units. It identifies resource priorities for the unit. And it provides a multiyear plan for conducting its annual assessment of student learning. The MOU is signed by the unit’s Self-Study Team Chair, Department Chair or Program Director, College/School Dean, APRC Director/Chair, the Associate Provost for Student Success and Accreditation and the Provost. Each signatory acknowledges the MOU activities as the unit’s strategic plan and its resource needs as priorities for the next five years (DUE: Year 2, late May).

5. The Progress or Follow-up Reports are one- and five-year reports of a unit’s progress implementing its MOU and achieving its resource needs, including the status of activities not yet started (DUE: End of Spring one and five years after APR is completed).   

The following document guidelines are templates for systematically reviewing and reflecting on the components of a unit’s academic program(s), including its co- and extra-curricular activities.  The topic areas are provided to help the unit organize the documents.  All documents are to be submitted electronically (MSWord) to the APRC Director/Chair on or prior to the due dates. 


THE PROGRAM PROFILE (~25 pp single-spaced, not counting appendices; DUE Year 1, Draft due early December; Final draft due February 15). The Program Profile is an opportunity for the unit to summarize the current status of its academic program(s), including analyzing data provided by the University. Although the narrative provides the unit the opportunity to describe the sundry aspects of its program, the data allows the unit to identify trends and compare itself with the other programs, the College, and the University on issues related to enrollment, retention, graduation rates, course offerings, and student and alumni perceptions. Together the narrative description of the unit and the analysis of the data should provide a comprehensive and concrete understanding of the unit’s strengths and challenges along with the identification of possible questions for self-study.

The writing of the Profile begins with the unit’s self-study orientation with the APRC Director, its research analyst, and the Associate Provost for Student Success and Accreditation in September to discuss APR and the content and timetable for the Profile. The self-study team should write the narrative sections of the Profile during the Fall term. As it begins to write its Profile, the self-study team may request from the APRC research analyst any additional University data they need at that point. If it is available, the data will be provided along with the University data by early December.

No later than the last week of Fall term, the unit’s self-study team shall meet with the APRC research analyst, representatives from IRMA, and the APR Director to review the University data.

When the number of students in a program falls below ten, identifying trends becomes problematic. This difficulty arises because proportions exhibit significant volatility in such small samples, with each student representing ten percent or more of the total. Smaller samples make it harder to draw reliable conclusions and increase the risk of misleading interpretations due to limited generalizability. In addition, where the response rates on student surveys are too low to be representative, the unit should note the low response numbers and respond as it sees fit, including having the option not to respond to the data. For those cases where the unit wants to learn more in relation to items with low response numbers, the unit should identify possible self-study questions it would like to answer.

NOTE: The APRC provides relevant catalog and website information about the unit’s program(s). The unit may either insert the information as-is in response to different topic areas or revise it to reflect the most up-to-date information. In the following subsections, information for topic areas identified by an asterisk (*) is provided by the APRC, when it is available on the website. The APRC will identify the information it cannot find. The unit should plan to update or add information to its website, where necessary.

1) Mission and Prior Review

a) Provide the unit’s mission statement* and identify how it aligns with the College’s and University’s mission.

b) Using data from the University surveys—the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Alumni Survey, and the Exit Survey for Graduating Senior and Graduate Students—analyze and discuss student perceptions about their exposure to DePaul’s Vincentian mission.

c) Briefly summarize the findings, recommendations, and actions resulting from the last APR (APRC will provide previous MOU and follow-up reports).* Identify any unresolved areas of concern from the previous APR.


2) Curricular Offerings

a) Provide a short narrative describing each degree program, major, certificate, and other formal programs currently offered (300 words or less for each). In the narrative, please include information about program structure, including program(s)’ high impact practices, goals, and career possibilities Provide in an appendix representative syllabi, curricular descriptions, brochures (Fact Sheets), bulletins, or other descriptive material. (APRC will provide catalogue descriptions of all academic programs, including course descriptions, which should be included in a Profile Appendix).*

b) Using data provided by the University where relevant, analyze and discuss:

i. Patterns of enrollment in degrees/concentrations (available in the Program Data Summary : (1) External Program Demand Dimension: New student enrollment data and (2) Size and Scope Dimension: Unique course counts and degrees awarded).

ii. The diversity of the undergraduate student profile (available in the Program Data Summary: Mission Dimension: Under-served student representation).

iii. Degrees conferred, graduation rates and time to graduation patterns for your program(s) (available in the Program Data Summary: (1) Mission Dimension: Under-served student graduation rates; (2) Quality of Student Outcomes Dimension: Junior graduation rates for first-time college entrants and Average time for transfer students to graduate; and (3) Size and Scope Dimension, Degrees awarded).

iv. Course hours taught for majors (including second majors) and non-majors students in major courses, service courses, and general education courses (available in the Program Data Summary: Internal Program Demand Dimension: Proportion and number of non-major credit hours in LSP classes and in non-LSP classes).

v. Market share, where data are available (patterns of interest by enrolling students) (available in the Program Data Summary: External Program Demand Dimension: New student applications and Enrollment over time in Illinois data) .

c) Describe any new curricular initiatives that are not reflected in item 2a.

d) If there are Centers or Institutions housed in the unit, describe how they support effective teaching and learning, faculty and student scholarship, and research and creative activities.

e) Discuss steps the unit has taken to address academic quality and raise the level of academic challenge as called for in the current University Strategic Plan.

f) Identify possible issues/questions, if any, related to this section that might be part of the APR self-study or MOU.

3) Student Learning

a) The APRC will provide the learning outcomes for each of the unit’s degree-granting programs.* The unit should identify any learning outcomes that are no longer current, or are not clear, concrete, or measurable. Any learning outcomes that are not current, clear, concrete, or measurable should be updated.

b) Using the template provided in Appendix E (electronic copy available on APRC website), provide in an appendix a curriculum map for the learning outcomes for each degree-granting program (undergraduate and graduate). Identify any learning outcomes that are assessed in multiple courses in a degree-granting program’s coursework. Identify any learning outcomes that have not been assessed during the past seven years.  Identify any learning outcomes that need to be reviewed or assessed differently (in terms of when and how they are assessed).

c) Based on a review of past annual assessments and, if applicable, any assessment or assurance of learning materials provided for accreditation/external review, identify what the strengths and challenges for student learning are in your degree-granting programs.

d) Using data from the University surveys—the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Alumni Survey, and the Exit Survey for Graduating Senior and Graduate Students—analyze and discuss:

i. Student satisfaction with the quality and rigor of their academic program and their preparation for life after DePaul. Consider also possible changes between student perceptions in the Exit Survey for Graduating Senior and Graduate Students and the Alumni Survey.

ii. Student perceptions of acquired work-related knowledge and skills: communication (verbal and written), quantitative and analytical skills, and other related knowledge and skills.

iii. Student perceptions about their exposure to diversity.

iv. Alumni perceptions of their knowledge and abilities gained in their program at DePaul.

e) Using the template provided in Appendix C (electronic copy is available on APRC website), identify the learning outcomes that are a priority for future assessment projects.

f) Identify possible issues/questions, if any, related to this section that might be part of the APR self-study or MOU, including any learning outcomes that might need to be updated or any possible future assessment activities or program changes that are a result of assessment activities.


4) Student Support

a) Describe how students are advised in the unit, including how students who are academically under-prepared and/or historically underserved are supported and how advanced students or students in Honors Programs are supported.

b) Using data from the University surveys—the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Alumni Survey, the Survey of Academic Advising, and the Exit Survey for Graduating Senior and Graduate Students—analyze and discuss student satisfaction with advising.

c) Describe the co-curricular and extracurricular activities that the unit provides to support and engage students.

d) Using data from the University surveys—the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Alumni Survey, the Survey of Academic Advising, and the Exit Survey for Graduating Senior and Graduate Students—analyze and discuss student engagement in community service, internships, extra-curricular and co- curricular opportunities, research with faculty, and other opportunities.

e) Describe the career planning support the unit offers to students, including how it collaborates with Career Services.

f) Using the Program Data Summary Quality of Student Outcomes Dimension: Proportion of degree recipients employed, in grad school, volunteering full-time, or serving in the military data, describe your graduates’ immediate post-DePaul professional outcomes.

g) Using data from the University surveys—the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Alumni Survey, the Survey of Academic Advising, and the Exit Survey for Graduating Senior and Graduate Students—analyze and discuss student perceptions about the challenges they face to succeed in their academic programs and competing priorities.

h) Describe the unit’s relationship to the University library and the types resources and support the unit encourages students to use.

i) Identify possible issues/questions, if any, related to this section that might be part of the APR self-study or MOU.

5) Faculty and Staff Support

a) Using data provided by the University, analyze and discuss:

i. The demographic profile of your faculty.

ii. Patterns of workload by full- and part-time faculty in the context of your college (available Program Data Summary: (1) Quality: Program Design & Delivery Dimension: student/faculty ratios and (2) Size and Scope Dimension: FTE student to FTE faculty ratio and Proportion of 300-level sections with more than 10 students).

b) Describe the scholarly/creative activities, specializations, etc., of the unit’s faculty and staff (where appropriate) and the collective strengths and limitations in relation to the unit’s purpose, academic goals, and learning outcomes.

c) Describe how tenure-stream and contingent/part-time faculty are evaluated and supported in their efforts to provide continuous improvement to instruction.

d) Describe how the unit works with the University library to support tenure-stream and contingent/part-time faculty.

e) Describe the staff positions that support the work of the unit.

f) Identify possible issues/questions, if any, related to this section that might be part of the APR self-study or MOU.


6) University and Community Engagement

a) Describe how the unit serves students in the Liberal Studies Program and in other University programs/majors.

b) Describe how the unit interacts and collaborates with other units in the University. Describe the benefits and challenges of these interactions/collaborations and their effect on the unit’s students. Describe where interaction and collaboration need to be developed or strengthened and why.

c) Describe how the unit engages the community, both locally and beyond, and contributes to community enrichment. Describe how these activities support student learning.

d) Describe how the unit engages alumni, including any opportunities students have to interact with alumni.

e) Identify possible issues/questions, if any, related to this section that might be part of the APR self-study or MOU.


7) Unit Specific Issues and/or Initiatives. Describe and discuss any unit-specific issues and/or initiatives not addressed in the preceding sections.


(3-4 pages, DUE: Year 1, April 20)
Drawing on the issues/questions learned in the writing of the Profile, as well as on the APRC’s and Dean’s feedback, the Unit should identify three to five self-study questions. One self-study question must address some aspect of student learning outcomes, and include collecting and analyzing student work. The Unit should use the Research Plan template provided in Appendix E.  

1) List the names of the members of the Self-Study Team.

2) Identify the questions or issues learned so far from your APR that will be addressed through the self-study. These questions can include investigating areas of concern remaining from the previous program review, as noted in the Profile. 

a) Provide a short recap of why you chose these questions/issues of interest/concern and how answering these questions will help the Unit improve the quality of its academic program(s). 

b) Identify data collection and analysis methods that will be used to address each question/issue.  Be as specific as possible (For example, if a focus group will be used, who will be the audience, what will be the goal of the session, what are some questions that may be used, etc.? If surveys will be disseminated, identify possible survey questions). The APRC can provide example surveys and the APRC Research Analyst and IRMA can work with the Unit to develop data collection tools. Please note in your Plan if you need assistance.

c) Identify who is responsible for data collection and analysis and provide a time-line for the work.

3. For units undergoing external review:

a) In an appendix to the Research Plan, provide an annotated list in order of preference of 4-6 external reviewers, including contact information. The annotation should explain how each external reviewer will be able to 1) assess the intellectual currency of the academic program and the overall quality of faculty scholarship, as well as 2) help the unit reflect on issues of importance to them.  Consider external reviewers who have prior experiences with conducting academic reviews. 

b) Faculty Curriculum Vitae. Please provide an electronic copy of a recent curriculum vita for each full-time faculty member in a separate appendix. These CVs will be shared with the external reviewers.


(15-20 pp., single-spaced plus appendices; DUE: Year 2, December 15).

The Research Report provides answers to the Research Plan questions based on an analysis of the data with the goal of supporting and identifying program improvement activities that will be in the MOU.

1) Executive Summary (2-3 pp.) Provide an abstract that highlights each of the sections below.

2) For each self-study question, provide an analysis of your data. Your analysis should include a description of methodology (how data was collected), a presentation of significant data, and your findings and conclusions. In the Report, provide enough data to support the inferences you draw. Include additional data, as necessary, in an appendix (Be selective and include in appendices only those data that expand on what has been said in the research report.).

3) For each self-study question, identify next steps, notably MOU items designed to improve your academic program(s) but also any areas of further study.

4) Within the context of the college and University, identify important challenges and opportunities for next five or ten years, including opportunities and challenges related to working with other units in the University. Also, identify how the unit will contribute to realizing the college’s and the University’s Strategic Plan.


(MOU 3-5 pp, DUE: Year 2, May 10, signed by end of spring quarter)

The MOU identifies goals, actions, and priorities based on the findings and feedback during the APR process.  The signed MOU is the unit’s plan for the next year and beyond, and is a public document, accessible through Campus Connect. The long-term assessment plan identifies the unit’s plan to assess student learning over the next seven years.

The MOU includes the following:

1) Provide a brief introduction that includes a review of and any acknowledgements relating to the unit’s APR and self-study efforts;

2) Section 1: Identify common issues that affect and/or require collaboration with (1) other units under review in the current cycle and (2) other units in the University that, therefore, call for College and/or University-level coordination and support;

3) Section 2: Identify unit’s one- and two-to-five-year activities to improve the quality of its academic program(s);

4) Section 3: Describe the unit’s long-term assessment plan, including providing a timetable for assessing learning outcomes for each of its academic program(s) over the next seven years. The long-term assessment plan is provided to CTL so that it can support future assessment efforts. This document is for planning and guidance only and can be revised as necessary in the future.

5) Section 4: Identify resource priorities that will support the unit’s proposed activities and initiatives. Resources are not tied to APR; however, the priorities identified in the MOU signal to the college and University those resources the unit believes are necessary to implement fully and successfully its academic program(s) improvement efforts. The signatories to the MOU recognize these resource requests as unit priorities.

6) Endorsing signatures: Chair of the Unit’s Self-Study Team, Unit Department Chair/Program Director, APRC Director/Chair on behalf of the APRC, Dean of Unit’s College/School, Associate Provost of Student Success and Accreditation, and Provost.


One year and five years after the MOU signing, the APRC asks the unit to reflect on the status of its MOU items. The APRC will provide the unit with a template with space for reporting the status of each MOU item. 

The one-year progress report gives the unit an opportunity to reevaluate its goals and revise its agenda for the future. The five-year progress gives the unit an opportunity to take stock of its successes, identify what remains as a challenge or concern, and consider how unmet goals will be addressed prior to the next APR. 












Advance prep









APR Kick-off Meeting with unit leadership

Formation of self-study team

Year I

Phase I: Profile document

Phase II: planning the unit’s self-study

APR Orientation with self-study team

Write Program Profile (Units will receive University Data in mid-October during a Data Meeting)

Profile draft due in early Dec.

Final draft due Feb 15

Receive APRC feedback on  final draft of Profile (late March); write unit Research Plan

Receive APRC feedback on unit Research Plan

Plan for self-study

Year II

Phase III: conducting the self-study

Phase IV: external review and feedback

Phase V: planning for the future

Conduct self-study and write Research Report

External review (if necessary)


Receive APRC feedback on Research Report and External Review

Meet with Dean and Provost or his/her representative to discuss MOU; write MOU; sign MOU

Year III +

Phase VI: Implementation of MOU with 1- and 5-year Progress Reports

Preparation (Spring prior to Year 1)

The APRC Director/Chair notifies deans and unit chairs/directors of the upcoming program review; unit chairs/directors meet with the APRC Director/Chair, APR Research Analyst, and Associate Provost for Student Success and Accreditation to discuss the APR process, data collection and support, and Fall orientation of self-study teams.

Phase I: Program Profile (Year 1)


- Unit identifies its self-study team. The APRC Director/Chair orients the unit chair and unit self-study team to the purpose, requirements, and timeline of program review.

- An APRC Subcommittee is identified for each unit starting review and contacts the unit self-study team to review the work ahead and offer APRC support.

- The Research Analyst and IRMA staff meet with self-study team to present and review university data available to the unit.

- A draft of the Program Profile is submitted to the APRC Chair/Director and the unit’s APRC subcommittee in early December for feedback. Feedback is provided to the unit by January 15.


- A final draft of the Program Profile is submitted to the APRC by mid-February for discussion at its Winter meeting. APRC feedback is provided to the unit by early Spring term. 

Phase II: Research Plan (Year 1)


- The Unit’s Research Plan is submitted to the APRC by late April for discussion at its Spring meeting. APRC feedback is provided to the unit by late Spring term, with an outline of data collection support available to the unit during the summer and fall.

- Unit provides the Associate Provost with a prioritized list of potential external reviewers (at least 5 names with contact information) by end of Spring term.

- Unit provides faculty CVs in electronic format (MS Word or PDF format).

- The APRC Director/Chair solicits feedback to the unit’s research plan from its Dean and Academic Affairs, including requesting they identify issues not identified in the plan. This early feedback is designed to ensure all parties identify issues or concerns early in the process so that they may be given full consideration during the self-study.

Phase III: Implementing the Unit’s Research (Self-Study) (year II)


- The Self-Study Team conducts the unit’s self-study according to its Research Plan.

- Throughout the self-study phase, regular communication between the Self-Study Team and the APRC Subcommittee is strongly encouraged to keep everyone aware of the direction being taken and of the progress being made. In particular the APRC subcommittees should act as internal consultants and help units identify areas of the study and/or report (if any) that: (a) are in need of clarification; (b) seem to be at variance with the unit's approved Research Plan, including the Self-Study Guidelines; (c) make claims without sufficient supporting data; and/or (d) have been addressed but with no suggestion of possible initiatives, if needed.

- The Associate Provost contacts potential external reviewers, orients them to the review process, schedules their visits in consultation with the unit under review and sends the external reviewers the unit’s Program Profile, Research Plan, faculty CVs, and any other relevant materials.

- The Unit’s Research Plan is written and submitted to the APRC Director/Chair by December 15. The APRC Director/Chair distributes copies to the APRC, the unit’s Dean, and Academic Affairs. If the unit undergoes a regular professional/discipline specific accreditation visit, it will submit a copy of the latest report from the accreditation team. In cases where elements of the accreditation report document are confidential, those parts will be excised.

- The Associate Provost sends the unit’s Research Report to the external reviewers for those units undergoing external review.

Phase IV: External review and feedback (Year II)


- For those units undergoing external review, the reviews take place in January or early February. External reviewers’ reports are submitted by March 1. Reports are distributed to the Provost, the APRC Director/Chair, the unit dean, the unit’s self-study team leader and the unit’s chair/director. The APRC Director/Chair will distribute to the APRC.

- In early March, the APRC Director/Chair solicits feedback from the Provost and Dean on the unit’s research report and external reviewers’ report in advance of the APRC’s Winter meeting (see next item). The Dean is invited to meet with the APRC to discuss any relevant information that can inform the APRC’s feedback to the Research Plan and External Reviewers’ Report.

- The APRC reviews all program review and external reviewer reports. Prior to this meeting the APRC subcommittees develop drafts of responses and suggestions for MOU items for the units. The full APRC is expected to read all of the executive summaries of the reports that have been submitted; the subcommittees are responsible for reading the full reports of the units assigned to them.

- Following the APRC Winter meeting, the APRC Director/Chair writes a response to the unit Research Report and External Reviewers’ Report, offering comments/suggestions regarding the major issues raised through program review and serving as a starting point for conversations leading to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). 

Phase V. Planning for the future: developing the Memorandum of Understanding (Year II)


- The unit’s self-study team meets with its Dean and Chair/Director to discuss issues, concerns, and initiatives in the College/School and University relevant to the writing of the  MOU.

- The APRC feedback to the unit’s Research Report and External Reviewers’ Report and the self-study team’s meeting with the Dean and Chair/Director are starting points for conversations with the unit’s full faculty to identify activities and resources to address challenges or gaps in current programs, to improve current programs, to take advantage of new opportunities facing the unit, and, in general, to sustain and improve the quality of the academic program based on what was learned through program review.

- The Self-Study team drafts the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is circulated among the program faculty and approved. The MOU identifies short-term priorities and longer terms plans that the unit will take to build on what they have learned through program review. It includes a discussion of any additional resources that are considered a priority by the unit to help support these initiatives, as well as plan for assessment (Assessment Planning, Part 2). The approved draft of the MOU is submitted to the APRC Director/Chair by May 20, who distributes it to the unit dean and Provost for feedback.

- Working with the unit Self-Study chair, the dean, and the Provost, the APRC Director/Chair helps negotiate the final MOU and arranges the signing of the MOU to take place before the end of the academic year. Once signed, the MOU is posted on the APRC website.

Phase VI: Implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding

- The unit implements its MOU. To track its accomplishments and ensure accountability of the unit, college and university, the unit provides one-year and five-year reports on the progress of the initiatives identified in the MOU. This is shared with the unit faculty, dean, APRC Director/Chair, and AVP for Academic Affairs. The APRC Director/Chair helps negotiate any items of concern expressed by any of the parties.

Additional appendix documents can be found here: 

​​Appendix B, Assessment Planning, Part 1: Reflection

Appendix C, Curriculum Maps--Examples

Appendix D, Assessment Planning, Part 2: Plan

Appendix E, Research Plan Template​

Download the APR Guidebook Here​​​