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Strategic Program Reviews

Strategic program reviews are the process by which academic programs and departments at NC State engage in thoughtful and creative study and evaluation of their effectiveness.

The Office of Assessment and Accreditation facilitates undergraduate program reviews and collaborates with the Graduate School to support graduate program and departmental reviews. These reviews are a uniquely vertically integrated process which engages program faculty, college deans and other administrators, outside experts and students as well as staff from DASA, the Graduate School and the Provost’s Office.


The value of a thorough program review comes from clearly defined goals. As a result of participating in a comprehensive external program review, programs and departments are expected to identify strengths and areas for improvement for:

  • Curriculum: scope, relevance, efficiency, cohesion with mission
  • Enrollment: sufficiency of current enrollment and program planning
  • Budget/finance: identification of potential opportunities to redirect existing resources and/or generate and use incremental resources
  • Staffing: organization, sufficiency
  • Research: development and outputs, external recognition, funding levels and sources, administrative support
  • Faculty: sufficiency, satisfaction and performance in teaching, research and service
  • Assessment: program’s purposes and outcomes (faculty expectations for students and the program), use of data to guide continuous improvement

As a result of participating in a comprehensive external review, programs or departments develop and implement an action plan for continuous improvement. Generally, the action plan will aim at

  • Identifying general strengths and weaknesses of the program(s)
  • Developing specific actions to address areas which need improvement
  • Implementing creative and proactive ideas for the development the program(s) under review
  • Offering a broad view of academic activities and needs within a specific field of study
  • Encouraging data-driven decision-making

There are five types of academic programs subject to the review process and, correspondingly, four types of program reviews.

  • Departmental: these are combined reviews which involve both undergraduate and graduate programs all attached to the same department or unit.
  • Graduate: these reviews may involve either a standalone program or graduate programs within a department or unit whose undergraduate programs follow the review process of a specialized accreditor (and thus are not subject to the NC State review process).
  • Undergraduate: reviews involving undergraduate programs with no graduate counterpart.
  • Non-departmental: these reviews involve programs which are not under a department or are across several departments and/or colleges; these programs are often interdisciplinary.
  • Abbreviated mid-cycle: for programs using reviews from specialized accreditors in lieu of the NC State strategic review process and for which gaps between consecutive reviews are greater than or equal to 10 years. See here for more information.

The detailed organization of a review depends on the type of program being reviewed. In particular, the Office of Assessment and Accreditation facilitates the reviews of undergraduate programs for which there is no corresponding graduate program and plays a supporting role to the Graduate School, which facilitates the reviews of departmental programs, graduate programs without a corresponding undergraduate program, and non-departmental or interdisciplinary graduate programs.

Program reviews engage a uniquely large and diverse set of people: from staff and students to faculty, from program personnel to NC State’s chief academic officer, and from the NC State local community to leaders in their field from across the country and beyond. The roles and responsibilities of each of these groups in thr review process are explained below. Approximate timelines, in terms of months before/after the review, are included.

Program, department and unit

  • Identify possible external and internal reviewers: -6 to -5 mo.
  • Identify dates for the review: -6 mo.
  • Prepare self-study, submit to College and Graduate School for feedback: -6 to -2 mo.
  • Collaborate with Graduate School in creating an agenda: -4 to -1 mo.
  • Arrange local travel, meals, room reservations (for on-campus reviews): -4 to 2 mo.
  • Engage program students, staff and faculty in the preparation for the review and the review itself: -6 to 0 mo.
  • Prepare a written response to the recommendations of the review report: + 2 mo.
  • Submit the response document to the college and meet with college leadership: + 3 mo.
  • Amend (if needed) the response document after meeting with the college and submit it to the grad school: + 3.5 mo.
  • Attend the post-review meeting with program, college, grad school and university administrators and collaborate with the grad school in finalizing an action plan: + 5 mo.


  • Review the self-study for completeness before it is sent out to the review team: -2 mo.
  • Meet with the review team at the start of the review (to introduce the college and the program) and at the end of it (to learn their findings from the reviewers): 0 mo.
  • Provide a written assessment of the program’s response to the review: +3 mo.
  • Attend the post-review meeting: + 5 mo.

Review team

  • Identify and evaluate the strengths of the program and the areas for improvement: -1 to 1 mo.
  • Provide perspectives on the program regarding academic, research, and administrative issues: -1 to 1 mo.
  • Compare strengths and weaknesses of the program (i.e., faculty, students, curricula, research, equipment, funding, etc.) to those of similar programs nationwide: -1 to 1 mo.
  • Summarize its findings and provide recommendations through a review report: -1 to 1 mo.
  • spring 2023
    • Electrical and Computer Eng.; Electrical Power Sys. Eng.; Computer Networking (March 30-31): COE, graduate
    • Chemical Engineering (April 6-7): COE, graduate
    • Engineering (TBA): COE, non-departmental
    • Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media (TBA): CHASS, graduate
  • fall 2023
    • Analytics (TBA): Provost Office, non-departmental
    • Chemistry (TBA): COS, graduate
    • Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering (TBA): COE, graduate
    • Design (TBA): COD, graduate
    • Forest Biomaterials (TBA): CNR, departmental
    • Interdisciplinary Studies (TBA), CHASS, undergraduate
    • STEM Education (TBA): CED, departmental
  • Long Term Schedule

Implementation Resources

Self-Study TemplateDescribes the format of the self-study
Evaluation RubricProvides guidance on how to evaluate the self-study
TimelineOverview of the program review timeline
Review TeamDescribes the review team’s role
AgendaExample of a program review agenda (virtual)