Program Review Process

Each school and college at Syracuse University reviews each academic program on a four-year cycle. Through the review process, faculty review common data along with other information to create an overview of a specific academic degree program. A fair and equitable, faculty-driven procedure for evaluating each program for which the school/college is responsible, using assessment outcomes, institutional data, and disciplinary norms to make recommendations. Syracuse University’s program review process incorporates the following features:

  • Reviewing data and metrics for evaluation that focus on enrollment, student credit hours, course completion and graduation, faculty teaching loads, student success, class capacity, bottlenecks, and migration trends.  Additional data is supplied by IEA based on faculty interest and questions;
  • A process of cross-college consultation on joint programs and other programs where modifications, mergers, or closures affect the work of another school/college;
  • Program review reports and recommendations should inform the annual Dean’s Strategic Budget Review as well as the school/college/department strategic planning processes;
  • Evaluation conclusions and recommended improvements identified in a review process should be included as success criteria in the next review cycle.

Steps to Undertake Systematic Program Review

  1. Set schedule: In consultation with the Senior Assistant Provost, Academic Affairs, school/college Senior Associate Dean or Associate Dean of Academic Affairs confirms that annual Program Review schedule.  Each program  in the school/college is evaluated at least once every four years; for schools/colleges or programs with specialized accreditors, the specialized accreditation timelines should be factored into the program review calendar to minimize redundant work.
  2. Appoint a Program Review Chair: Each dean appoints an Associate Dean, faculty member, or staff member to take responsibility for structuring the overall school/college review process. This can be the same person who leads in the area of assessment or curriculum. Program review is an annual activity, so this responsibility is ideally for a multi-year period. For school/colleges that have specialized accreditation, these processes may mesh with the existing assessment and compliance duties of a staff or faculty member who runs the specialized accreditation process. The Program Review chair sets the internal school/college schedule for evaluation and provides the reporting deadlines for program representatives and others involved in the program review process. It is the Program Review Chair’s responsibility to submit all signed program review reports, committee reports, and if necessary, Dean’s recommendation.
  3. Appoint Program Representatives: For each unit (e.g., an academic department) that “owns” a program or set of related programs, the dean appoints one or more faculty representatives to conduct the review.  Depending upon local culture, this could be a faculty member, program director, department chair, or associate chair.  The program representative should involve faculty in reviewing the data and program review narrative.
  4. IEA Assembles Data:  IEA assembles datasets and supplies templates to Senior Associate Dean or Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  Associate Dean is responsible for the distribution of information to the designated program representatives.
  5. Conduct orientation and overview:  Program Review representative requests IEA representative to conduct an orientation and overview of the Program Review process and the data elements.
  6. Submit Program Reports to School/College Committee: Each school and college has discretion to use an existing committee or create a program review committee to review program review reports and make recommendations.  This committee obtains program reports from the program representatives and evaluates them using a uniform set of judgment criteria that apply to all programs in the school or college. For each reviewed program, the committee makes an evaluative judgment and a recommendation: update the program with suggested improvements, maintain the program as is, merge the program with another related program, move the program to another school/college, or close the program. The school/college committee submits their signed report, along with recommendations, to the respective Dean.
  7.  Committee Recommendations:  Committee recommendations and Dean’s recommendation (if needed) are shared with respective program review representatives who conducted the review.
  8. Opportunity for Faculty Feedback on Recommendations: Each school/college must provide an opportunity for feedback. The respective school/college develops a review process, consistent with their internal policies and procedures, in the event, the program disagrees with the committee recommendation and/or Dean recommendation.  If new information or data are available to inform the outcome of the program review process, program faculty can bring the information forward for consideration. Acting through the program review chair, the dean of the school/college can apply a set of deadlines and adjudication procedures to ensure a fair and equitable final decision about the program(s) in question.
  9.  Program Actions: The outcome of program review is a set of recommendations not prescriptions. A subsequent decision to move, merge, or close program should include consultation with program faculty and in some cases may require consultation with other schools/colleges that may be affected by program changes. Some program and course changes may require the approval of the Senate Committee on Curricula, and some program changes also involve communications with the New York State Department of Education and our regional accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor can provide guidance and support on all of these administrative steps.