Academic Program Review Guidelines and Resources

Context for Program Review

Program review provides a time for program faculty to analyze the quality of their academic programs as a whole, to affirm ways that the program is working well, and to implement improvements.  Program reviews must be completed at least once every ten years under UW-Madison faculty policy.

The University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) is the governance body with responsibility for program review policy. Program review oversight is coordinated by the director of APIR on behalf of the provost. 

The deans hold primary responsibly for initiating program review and for seeing that program review is carried out. The program faculty have responsibility for the self-study and for assuring the quality of the student experience.

The director of APIR asks deans to provide an annual update on program review activity in their school/college.  This information is used for reports to the UAPC, to the Board of Regents, and meets a requirement for institutional accreditation. 

The University Academic Planning Council has endorsed expectations that academic units advancing proposals for new academic programs or academic program changes must be up to date on program review for all of their programs as an indication of capacity for regular attention to program quality.

Types of Program Review

Five-year Reviews - All new academic programs (degree/majors, options, certificates) undergo a first review approximately five years after implementation. (Guidelines)

Institutional reviews / 10-year reviews - Academic programs (majors, degrees, certificates) and/or departments undergo a review initiated by the dean on a regular cycle, required at least once every 10 years. At times, reviews may be requested for special circumstances.

Low-award producing programs - When an academic program is low-award producing (fewer than five degree/major awards in five years; fewer than ten certificate awards in five years), the director of APIR will notify the dean through the Office of the Provost. The notification will include a request to conduct an immediate review and report back on the status of the program in a specified time period (usually 6 to 12 months). In general, either a compelling case will be made for continuation, or the low-award programs will be discontinued or reorganized. See the Policy on Low Award Producing Academic Programs and the List of Current Low-Award Programs for detail.

Suspended Admissions - Programs may suspend admissions for up to three years with UAPC approval. Within the three-year window the program faculty must decide to close the program or reopen it, and send a proposal to the Office of the Provost for UAPC consideration. The requirement for a three-year report is in the program review schedule. Consult the relevant guidelines for more detail (degrees/majors, certificates).

Specialized accreditation - Specialized accreditation reviews are conducted by professional organizations and typically require a self-study and an outside evaluation team. For undergraduate and professional programs, the accreditation review meets the requirement for program review. However, for graduate programs, accreditation reviews are often not sufficient to meet program review standards. Programs that have specialized accreditation include Business (BBA and MBA), Engineering, Medicine (MD), Nursing, Pharmacy (PharmD), Law, and Veterinary Medicine (DVM). For a full listing of UW-Madison accredited programs, see the Data Digest.

Program Review Reports

Annually, deans' offices provide an update on the program review activity in their school/college. This report is provided in response to a request for information from the Office of the Provost (APIR) and is a reminder of what programs are due or over-due for review.

The information is compiled into a mandated annual report to UW System Administration for the Board of Regents.

An annual report on program review to the UAPC focuses on any patterns that are evident from the dean's reports and points out programs that have not been reviewed in ten years and low-enrollment programs.

Summary Program Review Schedule and Report - This report lists all UW-Madison academic programs and the most recent review date for each program (degree/majors and certificates), by school/college. A check box indicates if programs have been reviewed on schedule. Low-award programs and programs that require a report for other reasons are also noted on this report.
The report is updated annually in August: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

UW-Madison reports to UW System Administration, in response to a request from UWSA in order to meet Regent policy. These reports are completed annually: 20162015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

UAPC report on Program Review, which is provided annually in keeping with the UAPC's role in policy oversight: 2015-16 (September 2016), 2014-15 (September 2015), 2013-14 (September 2014), 2012-13 (September 2013), 2011-12 (September 2012), 2010-11 (September 2011), 2009-10 (April 2011), 2008-09 (January 2010)