Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Program Review

Program review at institutions became widespread in higher education in the late 1960s as a formal data collection method to inform decision making on resource allocation and setting priorities, to assist in starting up or sunsetting programs or courses, or to determine modifications for alignment with institutional strategic planning. Program reviews can also act as quality control checks, and in examining the magnitude of the services offered vs. what may be needed by institutional constituents[1]. Beyond creating an informative report, reviews can be an integral mechanism to connect departments or centers to the overarching institutional mission, or to provide a comprehensive overview of what services are offered and/or needed. With a lens for continuous improvement, reviews are most effective when they are implemented on a schedule, such as every 5 years, and are linked to learning outcomes or mission driven goals.

Process for Program Review

When determining whether to develop a program review, the following are steps within the process of planning, reviewing, analyzing, implementing and evaluating any changes.

  • Identify goals and objectives of the program
  • Conceptualize the process with consensus from stakeholders and program staff-answering the W’s (who, what, when, where, why and how)
  • Collect data and conduct the review
  • Analyze the data and develop recommendations
  • Implement changes as needed
  • Evaluate the impact of the changes as a result of the review[2]

[1]Barak, R.J. (1982). Program Review in Higher EducationL Within and Without. An NCHEMS Executive Overview. Boulder, CO. National Center for Higher Education Management.

[2]Bresciani, M.J. (2006). Outcomes Based Academic and Co-curricular Program Review. Sterling, VA. Stylus Publishing, LLC.