L&S Academic Program Review - Guidelines in Effect October 2011 to December 2015

All formally approved academic programs at UW-Madison are required periodically to engage in formal reviews. Reviews convened by the Dean are conducted by teh faculty and reported to the Provost. The L&S Academic Planning Council offers college-wide guidance on the nature and process of program review; members review materials produced in review (self-study narratives and committee reports), and makes recommendations to the program and Dean. The guidelines below were approved by the L&S Academic Planning Council in October 2011; they were superseded by new guidelines in December 2015. In general, reviews convened during that period should follow the process below.


Department(s)/Program(s) will submit documentation (usually in the form of a brief narrative) focused on the academic program(s) under review.  The documents will address the Fundamental Questions, will include necessary attachments, and when required, will respond to focused questions raised by the Dean.

Standard information programs under review should consider:
  1. Department Planning Profiles for the department, peers within the college, and the Division: https://apir.wisc.edu/deptplanningprof.htm
  2. Credits Follow Instructor Report (Academic Planning and Institutional Research): https://apir.wisc.edu/instruction-credits.htm
  3. Graduate Program Profile. Ten-year trend data provided by The Graduate School:  http://www.grad.wisc.edu/education/academicprograms/index.html
    • Applicants, Admissions, Enrollments
    • Diversity Profile
    • Student Funding
    • Time to Degree (enrolled terms)
    • Degrees Conferred
  4. Undergraduate Program Profiles. Ten-year trend data provided by Academic Planning and Institutional Research: http://apir.wisc.edu/students.htm
    • Degree and Enrollment Trends
    • Time to degree (elapsed calendar years)
    • Time to degree (enrolled terms and credits)
  5. Enrollment Reports and Student Statistics. Official enrollment information maintained by the Offices of the Registrar: http://registrar.wisc.edu/enrollment-reports-and-student-statistics%20.htm
    Includes such reports as:
    • Degrees Conferred by Gender, Level, and Major
    • Course Credits by Department (credits by allocated by subject listing)
    • Grade Distributions
  6. Courses offered and enrollments in most recent 5-year period (undergraduate program) or 10-year period (graduate program). Please contact Assistant Dean Elaine Klein to obtain these data.
Fundamental Questions for Each Academic Program Engaged in Review
  1. Describe the overall academic program.  This must include (but may not be limited to) formally designated majors and certificates offered at undergraduate and graduate levels, and the learning outcomes associated with each program under review.  For each program, include among the attachments (enumerated below) program requirements, materials used to communicate those requirements to students, handbooks, etc.
  2. Describe student learning outcomes for the program, how the outcomes relate to program requirements and program quality.  Include among the attachments information about assessment of student learning with respect to these outcomes.
  3. Describe the role of the academic program in the department, in relation to the departmental mission and purpose.
  4. Describe other aspects of the departmental context in which the program functions that are relevant to the program.  For example: faculty research; departmental service; administration and operations; climate; alumni engagement and/or opportunities for development.   
  5. Describe the role of the academic program with respect to institutional and disciplinary goals
  1. Candidly evaluate program strengths.
  2. Candidly evaluate program weaknesses.
  3. After fully considering the program goals, how well students meet learning outcomes, and overall strengths and weaknesses:
  • What difference would a 5% increase in resources for this program make?
  • What difference would a 5% decrease in resources for this program make?
  • What positive changes can you make if resources stay the same?  
  • What innovations might you try if you had flexibility to reallocate resources in this area?
Attachments for all programs will include copies of or links to relevant program materials, such as:
  1. Program requirements, as they are conveyed to students via advising materials (including, but not limited to, catalog statements, program brochures, advising grids/templates, student handbooks, newsletters, etc.)
  2. Current assessment plan and summaries/reports of assessment activities, including actions taken (e.g. changes in requirements, course array, procedures).
  3. A description of the process for preparing these documents, which will include consultation with all individuals who bear some responsibility for the program; consultation with students; consultation with the faculty; and formal review and approval by the curriculum, program, and/or executive committee.
Focused Questions.  Some academic programs will be reviewed together because their interests overlap in some way; each review of this sort will have a question or series of questions asked of it, in service to that overlapping interest.   The information in the standard review template provided above should inform discussion of those questions.  After responding to the standard review questions, each group will also produce a summary report and recommendations in response to the question(s) asked, and will append to it any relevant documents.

Committee Review

Committees will be provided with all of the individual program reports, as well as the summary report and materials.  Wherever possible, internal committees will be convened to examine the reports submitted. 

Review committees will be empowered to conduct any additional inquiries to allow better understanding of the materials.  If deemed necessary by the deans, external members will be appointed to the committee to provide expert topical consultation on the question of interest.  The committee will provide a brief memorandum evaluating the individual programs, the recommendations of the review group and, where appropriate, offering additional advice, insights, and recommendations on the questions asked.   

If the review committee identifies issues requiring the attention of the Associate Dean or other administrators, the committee should schedule a meeting with the Associate Dean to discuss those matters.

Deans’ Review

The Associate Dean(s) will review the reports will consult with the Dean and Senior Staff.   If necessary, the Associate Dean(s) will meet with the committee and with the department chair(s)/program director(s).

APC Review

The Academic Planning Council will review the reports and offer consultation to the Dean and Associate Deans concerning recommendations and future progress.

Superseded in December 2015 by new guidelines.
Endorsed by L&S APC October 18, 2011; links updated August 12, 2014   
Prepared by:  Elaine M. Klein, Assistant Dean for Academic Planning, L&S

Keywords:academic review, committee, self-study   Doc ID:59176
Owner:Elaine K.Group:College of Letters & Science
Created:2015-12-28 13:27 CDTUpdated:2015-12-29 12:16 CDT
Sites:College of Letters & Science
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