Undergraduate Academic Program Assessment

Updates for Annual Program Assessment

The timeline for assessment reporting has been adjusted for the 2020-2021 academic year. Rather than submitting assessment reports in February, DUPs and DGPs are able to submit their reports in mid-March. This still allows for data collection in the fall term and additional time in early spring to analyze results, discuss findings with your full faculty, and make decisions based on your findings. The new assessment report submission dates are:

  • February 28, 2022: DUPs and DGPs submit assessment reports to department heads in the APA application: go.ncsu.edu/APA
  • March 31, 2022: Department heads review assessment reports
  • April 15, 2022: Department heads submit a summary report to their dean’s designee
  • April 29, 2022: Dean’s designee reviews assessment reports
  • May 13, 2022: Dean’s designee submits a summary report to the Provost’s Office

During this unusual year, flexibility and creativity are key. In some or many cases, the data collected will not be from the course or assignment(s) you had originally intended to use.  However, these data can still be valuable. Importantly, these data allow us to ensure quality of student learning across mode of delivery.  As such, the assessment data we collect in the fall can also better help inform us as we plan for the spring semester. Additionally, when we return to “normalcy” in the future, instruction may look different.  In this sense, the data we collect now can be informative as we potentially adapt learning environments and delivery of instruction. As always, it is critically important to discuss assessment findings with colleagues in your department to identify ways to improve student learning.

There is certainly an “asterisk” beside this academic year in many regards. In the spirit of continuous improvement of student learning and NC State’s mission of excellent teaching and the creation and application of knowledge, we urge you to continue to use assessment as a powerful tool to keep moving forward. COVID-19 has certainly impacted the mode of delivery of course content for many of us, and subsequent changes to assessment and the data we are able to collect are expected results. The Office of Assessment and Accreditation and The Graduate School are available to assist you with assessment needs as we all work to the best of our ability to maintain continuity and deliver high quality instruction.  For additional resources for assessment during COVID-19, please visit the assessment resources page.

Assessment Support and Training Sessions

This spring, campus assessment facilitators will offer drop-in training sessions for DUPs, DGPs, and department heads for assistance with the annual outcomes assessment process. Faculty and staff involved in the assessment process are also welcome to reach out to the assessment facilitators for individual consultations (Dr. Stephany Dunstan sbdunsta@ncsu.edu for undergraduate programs; Dr. Pierre Gremaud gremaud@ncsu.edu for graduate programs). Learn more on the assessment resources page

Outcomes Assessment Process


All undergraduate programs and transcripted certificates offered for credit by NC State are expected to fully participate in the assessment process, regardless of method or location. However, University requirements are flexible enough to allow programs and/or colleges wide latitude in implementing the procedures, including integration of undergraduate and graduate program review where desired.

Learning Outcomes

Accreditation and assessment support NC State’s academic excellence by establishing learning outcomes that provide benchmarks for the success of all academic programs.

Setting the Bar for Success – NC State maintains assessment plans for each academic program, including all degree programs and certificates recognized on official university transcripts. Each assessment plan describes measurable student learning and program outcomes and appropriate evaluation methods.The university requires an annual assessment report for each academic program. Reports provide an update including a summary of recent assessment results, an evaluation of strengths and areas for program improvement based on the results, and a description of decisions made and implemented to address areas for program improvement.

Assessment Plans and Learning Outcomes

We provide access to assessment reports and corresponding learning outcomes for each academic program and certificate. Learn more at apps.oirp.ncsu.edu/pgas/.

Academic Program Assessment (APA) Application and Assessment Guidelines


Basic Expectations for the Assessment Process

  1. Learning Outcomes – Each program and transcripted certificate must have a set of comprehensive student learning outcomes which are measurable (i.e., need to use action verbs such as those found in the Bloom’s tables online) and can all be assessed within a 3 to 5-year cycle. We generally recommend narrowing down the list of outcomes to 4 to 7 high-level outcomes (e.g., analyzing, synthesizing, creating, etc.) the faculty would expect students to be able to do or know as a result of graduating from the program.
  2. Measures – Each program and transcripted certificate must use direct measures of learning that are aligned with the outcomes such as test questions (not grades) or projects with a rubric (or another method that will allow for systematic review of the course product) from upper-level courses. When done well and in the aggregate, these methods will allow programs to determine not only the extent to which students achieved the outcome, but will allow faculty to identify both strengths and areas for improvement for the program, which is a requirement of the process (for an example of how to show these, see the “Example Report” listed above. Each program can measure as many outcomes as they deem appropriate each year as long as they are all assessed within 3 to 5 years. A single tool or set of questions from a major exam may be used to assess multiple outcomes.
  3. Using Results – Each program and transcripted certificate must make clear decisions based on the data collected. Decisions may or may not include changes to the overall program or courses and changes to the program may or may not be big changes. The spirit of the process is that the faculty review the data and make decisions regarding whether changes are needed and if so, what those changes should be. If the faculty determine that no changes are needed, please explicitly indicate that as a decision made based on data.
  4. Submitting Reports – Each program and certificate submits an assessment report in Academic Program Assessment (APA) Application. Reports are due the last business day of February each year. Instructions for submitting reports in APA can be found above.


All programs and transcripted certificates are encouraged to utilize any of the resources below throughout the assessment process. The use of a curriculum map is recommended  to help programs identify the courses in which outcomes are addressed and where the best direct evidence can be collected. A curriculum mapping template is available in the “Assessment Resources” link below.

University Regulation

External Program Review

Periodically, the college dean(s) and the Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA), on behalf of the Provost, review each undergraduate program. Their review is focused on the quality of the program and the summative use of results. In preparation for the review, programs should complete the self-study and submit the portfolio to the college associate dean(s) and to the DASA Vice Chancellor and Dean. Programs are encouraged to work with their Associate Dean and the DASA Vice Chancellor and Dean to tailor these guidelines to meet the needs of the program. Programs with external accreditation requirements may use self-study portfolios developed for accreditation in lieu of the guidelines below if approved by the college associate dean and the DASA Vice Chancellor and Dean. The DASA Director of Assessment is available to help the programs with their assessment efforts.

The primary purpose of the periodic external comprehensive review is for faculty to reflect upon, evaluate, and improve the undergraduate education provided by their program. The review process provides a framework within which to make programmatic improvements and also provides an opportunity for programs to showcase successes. Please refer to the the Academic Affairs Assessment Planning Team’s final report for further details about the process, the roles of faculty members and administrators, and the Guiding Principles.