Program Review Outline and Guide

Finance & Operations Program Review
Outline and Guide

The Process

Over the course of several months to one year, program faculty, staff and managers engage in a process of inquiry and analysis using a variety of quantitative and qualitative data to respond to review guidelines and standards. Once a program has completed the self-study process, peer reviewers are invited to provide external perspective and input. The final review document, to include peer comments, recommendations, action plans, and goals and objectives, is submitted to College leadership for feedback and response.

Coaches support program review work by providing resources, assisting with the peer review process, providing feedback on review documents, and additional tailored support based on need. If you have a specific need, please contact your coach who will assist.

Reviews will be conducted on a rotating four year cycle, with annual updates and progress reports submitted. Adjustments may be made to align with program certification, accreditation cycles or other environmental factors.

Integrating Program Review into Planning and Budget Decisions

Program Review recommendations that have financial implications will be carefully prioritized and connected to the College’s strategic priorities and then connected into the budget development process.

Program Review Outline and Guide

Notes and Suggestions:

  • The value of program review (strategic planning) is in the process. It is essential that program faculty, staff and administrators are engaged throughout.
  • Set timelines for completion
  • Provide evidence to support narrative and analysis
  • Find meaningful benchmarks and comparisons
  • Seek multiple perspectives
  • Be candid and employ a continuous improvement mindset

Section 1: Program Information

1. Core Purpose

  • Describe your program’s core purpose, educational or service goals and objectives
  • How does your program align with and contribute to the college’s mission and strategic directions?
    Consider using the Simon Sinek Why-How-What model

2. Program Description

Suggested topics:

  • Provide a brief history/evolution of your program
  • Degrees, certificates, and brief summary/range of courses offered (academic)
  • Services offered
  • Program and curricular outcomes
  • Enrollment, students, customers served
  • Faculty, staff and management organizational structure, credentials and staff development
  • Location and facilities
  • Funding, budget and financials
  • Partnerships, collaborations, advisory councils, associations and memberships
  • Program certifications and accreditations
  • Substantive change since last review

Section 2: Environmental Scanning/Operating Environment

Identify key national, regional, local, college, departmental, economic, political, demographic and/or technological trends that have or are expected to have a significant impact on your program and students.

Section 3: Key Performance Indicators

Describe the key performance indicators used to assess the quality and effectiveness of your program relative to its core purpose and the college mission.


  • Student progression and completion
  • Core theme objectives and indicators
  • Program certification/accreditation standards
  • National, state or disciplinary benchmarks
  • Financial performance
  • Efficiency measures
  • Department planning data elements
  • Other benchmarks as appropriate

Section 4: Program Reflection and Assessment

Suggested topics:

  • Prior review recommendations
  • Accreditation results/recommendations
  • Strategies employed (innovation, adaptation, development)
  • Projects and initiatives (include outcomes and measures)
  • Evaluation of progress toward goals

Section 5: Current State Analysis

Based upon the work and analysis of sections, one through four, identify the current issues and opportunities the program is facing.
Consider using the SOAR framework

Section 6: Key Findings and Program Opportunities

  • Articulate key findings that arose from the review process.
  • Identify and prioritize recommended strategies and opportunities for program improvement. For each recommendation, include a high-level feasibility analysis, to include required resources and other considerations.

Section 7: Conclusion


Section 8: Peer Reviewer Comments and Recommendations


Section 9: Action Plan

  • Strategies and initiatives (prioritized list)
  • High level timelines and implementation plans
  • Resources, requirements and other considerations
  • Outcomes and measures

Section 10: Administrative Response

Checklist of Elements to include in Program Review

  • Faculty and staff professional development (current, planned, needed)
  • Financial results, budgetary plans and requirements
  • Longitudinal history of key performance indicator data
  • Assessment of student learning and development outcomes, if applicable