Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

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Department Review Guidelines


In accordance with the Utah State Board of Regents Policy R411, all academic programs will be reviewed periodically to improve educational quality. Program review recommendations will focus on the quality and effectiveness of each major program of study, including undergraduate and graduate programs.


The chief responsibility for reviewing existing programs is assigned to faculty and department heads, with oversight and direction from the Dean.  The Provost’s Office coordinates the process, provides funding for external review visits and honorariums, and supports the units as needed.  The Board of Trustees and Board of Regents provide oversight of the process.

Frequency of Reviews

All programs in doctorate-granting and master’s universities are reviewed at least once every seven years.  Programs holding specialized accreditation may choose to submit the letter(s) and report(s) from the accrediting organization in lieu of conducting and submitting a program review.

Overview of the Review Process

The major activities for this review will be:

  1. Self-study of all academic programs in the department
  2. Review committee evaluation of self-study and site visit
  3. Department response to review committee report
  4. Completion of R411 report by department head to Provost’s Office
  5. R411 report submission to Board of Trustees for comment, Commissioner of Higher Education Academic Affairs and filed with the Utah Board of Regents.

Procedures for Department Program Review

1. Plan the review with the Academic Dean

The process will begin by meeting with the Academic Dean for guidance and to define expected outcomes of the review.  The Academic Dean and Department Head will identify areas needing particular attention during the review team site visit.

2. Department Self-Study

The department self-study will consist of an in-depth self-appraisal of the department’s activities by both faculty and students on the assessment, strategic planning, goal formulation, and decision-making based upon the outcomes. In cases where deficiencies exist, the department will identify courses of action to remedy deficiencies, or if major departures from standard indicators of productivity exist, the department will justify these departures.  A standardized data table required for the R411 report will be provided that includes information on faculty, students, and funding.  This data will be prepared by the Office of Analysis, Assessment and Accreditation and the Office of Budget and Planning.

The department self-study should include at least the following:

  1. Department Profile
    • Mission and goals
    • Academic program descriptions
    • Degrees offered; undergraduate and graduate
    • Alignment of programs and degrees with department mission
    • Support function or interaction with programs
    • Outreach efforts
  2. Faculty
    • Headcount and full-time equivalent faculty
    • Faculty profiles (include faculty CVs in an appendix)
    • Faculty teaching loads
    • Faculty research and scholarly productivity
    • Adjunct faculty and graduate assistants FTE
    • Faculty-student ratios
    • Faculty credentials, rank, and diversity information
    • Student credit hours produced per full-time equivalent faculty
  3. Staff
  4. Students
    • Admission standards
    • Student credit hours generated
    • Number of majors in program
    • Enrollment and attrition trends
    • Transfer data
    • Graduation and retention rates
    • Student placement rates and salary data if available
  5. Program Costs
    • Instructional costs
    • Support costs
  6. Program Support
    • Facilities and equipment
    • Professional development
  7. Program Assessment
    • Examples of goals, measurements, and impact
    • Evidence of ongoing and systemic documentation of student learning in courses, programs and degrees
    • Evidence the assessment data are collected, analyzed and used for improvements
    • Strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations

3. The Review Committee

The Review Committee will consist of at least two external reviewers with expertise in the discipline who will be selected from outside the state of Utah and one internal reviewer not affiliated with the program.  The Department Head will forward recommendations of review committee members to the Provost Office for approval.  Review committee members will not have close personal or working ties to department faculty members.

The general responsibilities of the Review Committee will be to:

  1. Read and evaluate the department self-study
  2. Spend at least two days on campus meeting with department faculty, students, staff, administration, the dean, and others deemed necessary to make a thorough assessment of the department
  3. Make comparative judgments between USU and peer institutions relating to the department's curriculum, faculty, students, administration, and program resources
  4. Submit a report to the department within six weeks of the visit to campus

Members of the Review Committee will analyze the department self-study, additional data gathered, and create a report making recommendations related to program improvement, continuation and discontinuation. The report of the Review Committee will be submitted to the department and Dean for comment. The Review Committee will then address comments by the department and dean in a final version of the Review Committee Report. The final report of the Review Committee will be submitted to the Provost, with copies to the Department and to the Dean of the College.

4. R411 Preparation and Submission

Following completion of the final report from the Review Committee, the Department Head will prepare an R411 report based on the review process and submit it to the Provost’s Office.  The Provost’s Office will submit the R411 report to the Board of Trustees and Board of Regents.

Recommended Timeline of Department Reviews for 2016-2017

Fall 2016 Provost's Office to notify department of review requirement; Department Head to meet with Academic Dean for academic program review planning
January 15, 2017 Submit proposed review member bios to the Provost’s Office for approval; once approved, submit W-9 for external reviewers and an ESC for internal reviewers (if appropriate)
March 1, 2017Self-study completed and submitted to Review Committeee
April 1 - 15, 2017Department visit by Review Committee
June 1, 2017Report from Review Committee sent to department and Academic Dean
June 15, 2017Comments on the Review Committee Report from department and Academic Dean sent to the Review Committee
July 1, 2017Final Review Committee Report
July 15, 2017Department Head submits the R411 to Provost’s Office