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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Guidelines: Academic Programs

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Program Review Self-Study Categories and Questions to Be Addressed
Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Departments

1.  Department and Program Description

  • What are the department's mission and goals?
  • How do they contribute to current College and University mission and goals?
  • What are the department's diversity goals and objectives regarding students, faculty/staff and program offerings?  For purposes of this review, diversity should include race, gender, disability and sexual orientation (in accord with federal and/or state law).
  • How do the programs and activities of the department fit with its expressed mission and goals?
  • What are the most noteworthy changes occurring within the department and its program/s over the past five years?
  • How well has the department fulfilled its mission and goals since the most recent program review?
  • What progress has been made in implementing the last program review's recommendations for program improvement?

Suggested Information Sources:

  • Annual Report of Accomplishment of Goals
  • Equal Opportunity & Title IX Plans and Reports

2.  Student Academic Achievement

  • What are the student learning outcomes for the program, and what standards have been established for successful achievement of each of those outcomes?
  • How do student learning outcomes reflect departmental, College and University mission and goals?
  • What is the evidence of success in achieving established student learning outcomes? 
  • Based upon the evidence gathered, what program improvements have been made since the most recent program review?
  • How does the department engage all faculty in both planning for and assessing student academic achievement and program improvement?

For departments providing general education and service courses:

  • How does the department ensure that general education and service courses it provides meet expected student learning outcomes for the general education program or the department being served?
  • If the department offers service courses, how is cross-departmental collaboration in planning and assessment of these courses employed?

Suggested Information Sources:

  • Program Assessment Plan/s
  • Exit Interviews
  • Annual Program Assessment Reports
  • Student Course Evaluations
  • Student/Alumni/Employer Survey

3.  Faculty Achievement

(Subheadings and questions in category three are organized according to the criteria established for faculty professional development and evaluation under Article 22 of the Minnesota State/IFO Agreement.  Criterion 3, continued preparation and study, is not explicitly included because it supports achievements in other outcomes/criteria rather than being a direct outcome for the program.)

Teaching Effectiveness/Effectiveness in Current Duties: 

  • What is the evidence of effective teaching and learning or effectiveness in performance of current duties?
  • How do instructional strategies used within the department promote active learning?
  • How does the department encourage improvement of teaching?

Scholarly and/or Creative Work and/or Research:

  • What level of scholarly and/or creative work and/or research occurs within the department? 
  • How does it contribute to maintaining quality undergraduate and graduate academic programs or effective academic support services?
  • How are faculty members continuously encouraged and involved?

Contribution to Student Growth and Development

  • In what ways does the department encourage student growth outside the classroom? 
  • How are students benefiting from such activities?
  • How do department faculty identify, refer and support students who may have academic learning difficulties?
  • How effective is the department in providing academic advising for its undergraduate and graduate students?
  • If the department appoints graduate assistants, how are they recruited, trained, and mentored?

Service to University and Community:

  • In what ways does the department serve the university and its communities?
  • How do students and programs benefit from such service?
  • How does the department/college/university benefit?

Suggested Information Sources:

  • Professional Development Plans
  • Faculty Improvement Grants
  • Professional Development Reports
  • Faculty Research Grants
  • Tenure/Promotion Applications
  • Sabbaticals
  • Service-Learning Opportunities
  • Partnerships/Collaborations/Centers
  • Student Course Evaluations
  • Minutes of Department Meetings
  • Advisory Council Minutes
  • Student/Faculty Research
  • Assessment of Advising Activities
  • Graduation Rates

4.  Interpretation of Quantitative Performance Measures

When viewed across the time since the most recent program review, what do the following measures of productivity indicate about the strengths and weaknesses of the department and each of the undergraduate and graduate program/s it offers?

  • Enrollment Measures: majors, minors, general education/service courses, undergraduate and graduate student credit hours, etc.
  • Efficiency Measures: student/faculty ratio, cost per FTE, time to graduation, etc.
  • Effectiveness Measures: degrees awarded, retention, placement, etc.
  • Quality Measures: accreditation, honors, awards, etc.
  • Diversity Measures: student, faculty, staff; within United States and international
  • Comparative Advantage Measures: regional competitors, student demand, environmental scan, labor department, etc.

Other Suggested Information Sources for Quality and Comparative Advantage:

  • Program selectivity rate
  • Faculty diversity
  • Public lecture/performance sponsorship
  • Colloquium/symposium activities
  • Research program
  • Collaborations (curricular & scholarly) 
  • Student/employer surveys
  • Student organization membership & activity

5.   Resource Management

When viewed across the time since the most recent program review, what do the following indicators of resource management suggest about the strengths and weaknesses of the department and each of the undergraduate and graduate program/s it offers?

Faculty: How are responsibilities within the department allocated to meet needs for teaching, advising, committee membership, research, etc.?  What does this show about department strengths and weaknesses?

  • Facilities:  What facilities are used?  What is their quality?  Is this a strength or weakness?
  • Equipment:  What equipment is used?  What is its quality?  Is this a strength or weakness?
  • Nonsalary Budget: What level of funding?  How is it allocated within the department?  Is this a strength or weakness?
  • Development:  What development initiatives have been undertaken?  With what success?  Is this a strength or weakness?
  • Instructional Technology/Media Support: What are the quantity and quality of media holdings and instructional technology?  Is this a strength or weakness?

6.  Summary Evaluation and Outlook

  • Based upon the information included in the program review self-study:
  • What are the department's strengths in programs and activities?
  • What are the department's limitations in programs and activities?
  • What information does environmental scanning provide in considering the department's future plans for programs and activities?
  • In relation to programs and activities, what departmental goals and priorities should be established for the next five years?