Framework For Graduate Program Review

Framework For Graduate Program Review


School for Graduate Studies


Dean or Associate Dean, School for Graduate Studies


Graduate Studies



Effective Date:


Implementation History:



Graduate Studies, Program Review, Outcomes Assessment

Background Information:

This policy was missed when all college policies were migrated to their current location. Therefore, there is a need to correct this omission and have this policy officially listed in the university’s archives. Further, the current policy is outdated and does not reflect the current structure of SGS, current requirements concerning outcomes assessment, best practices in program review (e.g. SUNY Faculty Senate’s recommendations). The need to revise the current policy was discussed by the SGS division chairs, dean, and associate dean on 09/08/2015 and an ad hoc committee was formed consistent of SGS faculty and associate dean. The ad hoc committee submitted the revised policy to the Grad PPC for feedback and to the grad faculty for approval. The Grad PPC discussed the proposed revision on 03/08/2016 and the grad faculty approved the new policy on 03/17/2016.


The purpose of graduate program review at Empire State University is developmental. The goal is to support the quality and effectiveness of each graduate degree program, and to promote a culture of continuous improvement. Further, the requirement for faculty to review and continuously improve programs are required by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s standards III and V, New York State Commissioner’s Regulations 8 CRR-NY 52.1, and the SUNY University-Wide Assessment Policy (Document # 1150) and Assessment Proce-dure (Document # 1151).

Each program review addresses three areas:

  1. The academic quality of the program;
  2. The distinctive character of the program and ways in which the program expresses the university's mission;
  3. The balance between student demand and program resources.


“Curriculum or program means the formal educational requirements necessary to qualify for certificates or degrees. A curriculum or program includes general education or specialized study in depth in a particular field, or both.” (8 CRR-NY 50.1.i)


Graduate program review at the School for Graduate Studies of Empire State University, consistent with the SUNY Policies of the Board of Trustees article 10 section 4 in regards to the obligation of faculty to participate in pro-gram development and implementation, is a faculty led process designed to operationalize Empire State University's culture of continuous improvement. The program coordinator and/or chair will take primary responsibility for organizing the program review process, with program faculty sharing the responsibility for the evaluation, decision making, reporting, and closing of the loop of program review. The SGS Dean’s Office, Decision Support Services, and other university-wide offices will provide assistance and resources to support the process.

The final product of the program review process will be a report drafted by the program faculty that documents the review process and identifies specific action plans for program improvement. These action plans should be based on the findings of the review and include assessable outcomes or benchmarks of success or completion. After program faculty have approved this report it will be forwarded to the Graduate Policy and Planning Committee (PPC), SGS Dean, Provost, President, and other university-wide committees and constituencies as appropriate.

The program coordinator or chair, working with program faculty, is responsible for ensuring that the identified action plans are implemented, outcomes are documented, and the results are evaluated during interim annual re-views and/or at the next program review. The SGS Dean’s Office will work with the program faculty and university-wide offices to identify and acquire the available resources needed to support action plan implementation.

Full program reviews occur at least every five years. Programs may opt for more frequent program reviews in consultation with the SGS Dean. In addition, programs will annually review a rotating sample of their program learning outcomes and the program’s progress in implementing the action plans identified in the previous program review. A report of these activities will be forwarded to the Graduate Policy and Planning Committee (PPC) and the SGS Dean’s Office.

For programs that also undergo external accreditation, a program self-study, site visit, and accreditation report that includes learning outcomes assessment will meet the requirements of full program review. The schedule of these reviews will be determined by the external accrediting body. If the program accreditor requires annual reports that include learning outcomes assessment, these reports may fulfill the annual review component. Externally accredited programs forward their accreditation reports to the Graduate Policy and Planning Committee (PPC) and the SGS Dean’s Office.

Program Review Framework

Full Program Review

A full graduate program review involves the following elements, which serve the purpose of supporting a culture of continuous improvement. These elements will be completed by program faculty with support from the SGS Dean’s Office, Decision Support Services, and other university-wide offices.

  1. Assessment of student learning outcomes – The outcomes assessment process begins with program-wide learning outcomes. All programs should have a documented list of program-wide student learning outcomes that express the program’s goals for all graduates. Programs and individual courses may have additional learning outcomes that apply to subsets of students. Additionally, all programs should document the courses or learning experience in which these outcomes are addressed and assessed in a curriculum map. Finally, programs should have common documented methods (e.g. common assignments that are assessed with com-mon rubrics) for assessing all students’ progress in achieving each of the program-wide learning outcomes. Data and/or artifacts from these course/learning experience embedded assessments should be documented and stored in a database for use during full and annual program reviews.
    • During the full program review, program faculty will evaluate the data and artifacts, if applicable, that have been collected since the previous program review, or the program’s founding for new programs, to determine the extent to which students have achieved these outcomes. In addition, program faculty will evaluate the quality of each method of assessment. While each program should design an assessment method that specifically addresses its needs, every method should include some kind of norming session in which faculty come to a consensus as to what it means to achieve individual learning outcomes and/or programmatic learning outcomes.
  2. Review of a sample of student graduation files (if appropriate) – Program faculty will select a sample of individual students’ curricula and assess the curricula’s alignment to the program curriculum and expectations and assess the quality of program documentation of student performance related to the students’ individualized program goals and outcomes.
  3. Student/alumni surveys – Programs will gather and analyze data on student and alumni opinions of the pro-gram and outcomes through university-wide and/or program specific surveys. Programs should coordinate their efforts to gather feedback with Decisions Support Services and the Office of Alumni Affairs to prevent du-plication of efforts.
  4. Review of program guidelines, curriculum, standards, and delivery modes, including integration of and institutional support for learning technologies.
  5. Summary of any actions taken as a result of the prior review and analysis of the impact of those changes.
  6. Review of expectations of program accreditation bodies, employers and other external stakeholders relevant to the program.
    • In addition, this may include a review by external evaluators from an appropriate external constituency (e.g. accreditation body, professional organization, or comparable programs). To the extent possible, reviews should be independent (i.e. reviewers should not have a known bias for or against the program).
  7. Review of institutional data on 5-year trends in program applications, enrollment, retention, degree completion, time to degree and projection of future trends in these areas.
  8. Review of faculty resources, workload, and credentials and qualifications.
  9. Review of current program descriptions, materials, and marketing and recruitment methodologies.
  10. Based on an analysis of the data generated in the program review process, program faculty will formulate an action plan for addressing areas identified as in need of improvement or areas of potential growth and development.
  11. The program faculty disseminate their results, interpretations, and recommendations to the Graduate Policy and Planning Committee (PPC), the SGS Dean, the Provost, President, and other university-wide constituencies as appropriate.
  12. The program faculty are responsible for implementing and assessing the outcomes of the action plan during annual program reviews.

Annual Program Review

In order to ensure closing of the loop on programs’ action plans and continuous improvement, programs will conduct annual reviews. The annual reviews will consist of the following elements:

  1. Assessment of a sample of learning outcomes – Each year program faculty will select one or more student learning outcomes to evaluate. This evaluation may generally focus on the extent to which students have achieve the programs desired learning outcome and/or specifically focus on the impact of specific instructional or curricular modifications on students’ performance. Outcomes may be reviewed on a specific schedule to ensure each outcome is reviewed at least once between full program reviews or specific outcomes may be selected each year based on the areas targeted in program’s last action plan.
  2. Action plan implementation – Programs will report on the implementation of their action plans, included the actions that have been taken over the past year, the current status of each action, and any data that has been collected on the impact of each action.
  3. The program faculty disseminates their results to the Graduate Policy and Planning Committee (PPC), the SGS Dean, the Provost, President, and other university-wide constituencies as appropriate.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

New York State Education Law Article 8 Section 355

New York State Commissioner’s Regulation 8 Part 52.1

SUNY University-Wide Assessment Policy (Document # 1150)

SUNY University Wide Assessment Procedure (Document # 1151)

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices