Sac State University Policy Manual

Academic Program Reviews

Policy Administrator: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Authority: FS 02-03; FS 02-04; FS 03-57; FS 04-13; FS 13/14-26;
Effective Date: April 13, 2000; Updated February 2002; November 2003; Spring 2004
Updated: November 14, 2013
Index Cross-References: Self Study
Policy File Number: FSA00010.htm


I. Introduction and Rationale

A primary responsibility of institutions of higher education is the development and implementation of a formal and consistent system of quality assurance. Such a system includes an analysis of student achievement of learning objectives and outcomes at the program level; it reviews available program retention and completion data; and when appropriate, it examines licensure and job placement information and draws on evidence from external stakeholders, such as employers and professional organizations.

Program review is a central element in the broader effort of institutional quality assurance. Program review is a cyclical and systematic process for the evaluation and continuous enhancement and currency of programs. This evaluation begins with self-reflection and is followed by peer evaluation by external consultants—external to the program or department, and often external to the institution. Program review is intended to be a comprehensive analysis of program quality, analyzing a wide variety of data. The goal of this analysis is to ensure program effectiveness and to address any weaknesses that the program or external consultants identify.

The primary purpose of academic program review at Sacramento State is to acknowledge the strengths and seek ways of further enhancing the quality of academic programs. The California State University Board of Trustees and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation regulations require that every academic unit be reviewed on a regularly scheduled basis. As the name implies, program review normally involves review of each academic program that leads to a specific degree. These programs will undergo program review based on a six-year cycle. For other academic units, e.g. the Library or the General Education program, Academic Affairs will be responsible for scheduling the program review. (For accredited programs, see section VI below.)

The focus of the program review process is the academic unit that administers the degree program(s).  In most cases the academic unit is a department; in some cases the unit is a “program” (e.g. the Asian Studies Program) or another entity (e.g. the College of Continuing Education). For sake of convenience, in this document “department chair” refers to the individual in charge of the academic unit.

The policy governing conduct of program reviews at Sacramento State is recommended to the President by the Faculty Senate. The responsibility for implementing the program review process lies with Academic Affairs. Program review consists of a six-step process that includes: 1) completion and approval of a Self-study proposal; 2) Self-study by the academic unit; 3) review by an external consultant; 4) report by a campus program review team; 5) review and recommendation by the Faculty Senate; and 6) action by the University President.

The specific procedures guiding the program review process are outlined in the University’s Program Review Manual.

II.  Review Team Composition and Responsibilities

A. Team Membership: Program review teams shall have a minimum of three members, all of whom are to be from among the University’s faculty.

  1. At least one member is to be from the college of the academic unit under review.
  2. The chair of the review team is to be from outside of the college of the academic unit under review.
  3. The review team chair is a member of the Program Review Oversight Committee and therefore works collaboratively with the Committee in the conduct of the program review process.

B. Team Appointment: Program review team members and chairs will be recommended and appointed in the following manner:

  1. An annual pool of faculty members will be recommended by the Faculty Senate for potential service as program review team members.
  2. Within the pool, a further indication will be made by the Faculty Senate of those faculty members recommended for potential service as program review team chairs, normally in recognition of prior successful service as program review team members.
  3. In forming program review teams, the Provost or designee will draw from the pool of faculty members recommended by the Faculty Senate, in keeping with the team composition requirements described in Section  II.A.
  4. If, in the opinion of the Provost or designee, the pool of faculty members recommended by the Faculty Senate is insufficient for adequate formation of the required number of program review teams, the Provost or designee shall request additional recommendations by the Faculty Senate.

C. Team Responsibilities:

  1. Examines the academic unit’s Self-study, the external consultant’s report, and other relevant materials;
  2. Prepares the program review report; and
  3. Submits the report to the Program Review Oversight Committee by the end of the seventh week of the semester following the semester during which the review activities are completed.
  4. The review team chair acts as a nonvoting consultant to the Program Review Oversight Committee when the report is under consideration.

III. Program Review Oversight Committee

A. Committee Membership: The Program Review Oversight Committee is composed of:

  1. Chairs of program review team for academic units currently undergoing review (from commencement of the process to the final approval by the Faculty Senate),
  2. A Faculty Senate appointee,
  3. A representative from the Curriculum Policies Committee, and
  4. A representative from the Office of Academic Program Assessment.

B. Program Review Approval Process:
  1. The Program Review Oversight Committee determines the final disposition of the program review.  Typically programs will receive a six-year approval.  However, if the review team determines that serious issues warranting immediate resolution beset a program and the Program Review Oversight Committee concurs, a conditional approval, or under extreme circumstances disapproval, may be recommended. Conditional approvals ordinarily are to be given to address issues that significantly impair a program’s academic effectiveness.
  2. In the case of conditional approval, Program Review Oversight Committee provides written documentation of specific and clearly stated conditions including exactly the conditions to be met, a timeline for meeting the conditions, and measures to be enacted if the conditions are not met. The academic unit in conjunction with the Dean of the College must develop and submit a plan and a timeline for meeting the conditions within four weeks of notification by the Program Review Oversight Committee. The Committee must approve the plan and the timeline. At the conclusion of the agreed upon timeline, the academic unit will submit a report to Academic Affairs. If a satisfactory report is not submitted, Academic Affairs will apply appropriate sanctions.

IV. External Consultant Identification

The program review shall involve at least one external consultant. Academic Affairs invites the department chair to nominate potential external consultants. The Chair may request assistance from Academic Affairs in identifying consultant nominees.

V. Program Review Procedures

The specific procedures guiding the program review process are outlined in the University’s Program Review Manual. The Manual is developed and revised by the Program Review Oversight Committee. It is updated at least once every three years, based on evidence regarding the efficacy of current procedures.  Any substantive changes to the manual will be submitted to and approved by CPC.

VI. External Accreditation Review Process

Program review at our University attempts to integrate, to the extent reasonable, campus program review and accreditation by external agencies, so long as this can be made to comply with the normal six-year cycle of program review. Academic Affairs is responsible for orchestrating the integration (details are provided in the Program Review Manual). An academic unit has the right to request a full program review (including visit by an external consultant) regardless of accreditation status.