Program Review Timeline

Organizing principles for creating a timeline

  • Allocate a full year before the external reviewers’ visit for gathering and analyzing data, writing the self-study report, and engaging in departmental discussions that establish preliminary revisions of goals, objectives, and strategic initiatives.
  • Select an optimal time in the academic year for the external reviewers’ visit and work backward to build the schedule.
  • Plan for your department to spend two to four months following receipt of external reviewers’ written report to finalize a new strategic plan.
  • Be mindful of critical elements and constraints within the timeline, e.g., institutional reporting deadlines and the need to schedule the reviewers’ visit when students, faculty, and administrators are available.
  • If your institution places specific constraints on the timing of review steps, consider how you will address critical elements in the review process within your institution’s guidelines.
  • Establish a process to gather and analyze relevant data on an ongoing (e.g., annual) basis to facilitate departmental conversations based on current data and to lessen the workload associated with periodic review.

Below is an example template for a program review timeline that can be used if your institution does not have an existing timeline.

Sample Timeline

-10 to -12 months

  • In discussions within your department, set parameters and a timeline for the review. Include developing a self-study report, conducting internal discussions, and allowing for flexibility when arranging external reviewers’ visit dates and travel.
  • Get guidance from upper-level administrators and institutional representatives overseeing program reviews on process and the issues that reviewers should address.
  • Recruit a committee to conduct the review process.
  • Identify and reserve funding required for the review process.
  • Identify possible external reviewers, request approval from administration, and recruit them.

-10 months

  • Identify topics and issues for the internal review committee to investigate, keeping your department informed.
  • Make assignments for components of the review.
  • Gather and analyze data on your department, along with characteristics and outcomes of peer and aspirant departments.

-7 months

  • Conduct conversations, discuss data, and identify questions to pose to external reviewers.

-6 months

  • Confirm availability of department members and upper-level administrators to finalize visit dates.

-5 months

  • Make assignments for drafting sections of the self-study report.
  • Begin regular committee meetings to discuss findings and potential objectives. As discussions continue, develop possible actions, soliciting department feedback and getting agreement on needed next steps. The more specific you are, the more you can tap into the expertise of the external review team and your administration.

-3 months

  • Confirm availability of reviewers and finalize visit dates.
  • Host a videoconference with reviewers to discuss the review timeline, self-study report content, and visit agenda.

-2 months

  • Circulate near-final draft self-study report for discussion by your department.

-6 weeks

  • Proofread and finalize self-study report.
  • Send self-study report to upper-level administrators.
  • Finalize visit agenda, travel arrangements, lodging reservations, and meeting appointments.

-2 weeks (hard deadline)

  • Send self-study report to external reviewers.

0 months

+4 weeks

  • Receive reviewers’ written report.
  • Process reviewer reimbursements and stipends.

+1 to 2 months

  • Reflect on reviewers’ report and start departmental planning discussions.
  • Consult with upper-level administrators and appropriate campus committees.
  • Draft and distribute a departmental written response to recommendations made by external reviewers.

+12 months

  • Review progress with your department.
  • Discuss progress with upper-level administrators.