The Graduate Council evaluates all graduate and professional degree and certificate programs at West Virginia University on a five-year assessment cycle established by the WVU Board of Governors. The basis of a program review is a self-study performed by an individual unit as part of their ongoing program assessment activities. An overview of the program review process is provided below.
Basis for Program Review Process
Title 133, Series 10, of the Higher Education Policy Commission delineates the statutory authority and responsibilities for the review of academic programs. According to this document, the WVU Board of Governors has the responsibility to review, at least every five years, all programs offered at WVU. The review should address the viability, adequacy, necessity, and consistency with mission of the programs to the institutional master plan, the institutional compact, and the education and workforce needs of the state. A “program” is defined as a curriculum or course of study in a discipline specialty that leads to a graduate certificate or degree.
Summary of Review Procedures
Each year, approximately one-fifth of all academic programs at WVU are reviewed. For each program identified for review, the unit responsible for the program develops a self-study report addressing program viability, adequacy, necessity, and consistency with WVU’s mission. When much of the information is redundant across related programs, more than one program may be included in a single self-study report (for example, a master’s and doctoral program in a single discipline may be combined in one report as long as differences between these programs are noted in the report). Self-study reports are prepared by program faculty, reviewed by the appropriate college/school dean, and forwarded to the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs with the college/school dean’s recommendation. The Graduate Council then reviews each program according to the criteria described below. Two members of the Graduate Council review the self-study report in detail, present a summary of each program to the Council, and write a summary of the report and the Council’s recommendation for the program. The report and recommendation are presented to the Board of Governors by the Office of the Provost, and the Board of Governors’ actions are then reported to the Higher Education Policy Commission and to the deans and program chairs.
To assess program viability, adequacy, necessity, and consistency with WVU’s mission, self-study reports provide information in the following categories. See the Program Review Instructions and Forms for specific information on information included in the self-study reports.
Mission – Graduate programs at WVU are expected to contribute to the core mission and strategic plan of the University.
Curriculum, Enrollment, and Students -The relationship of the program’s curriculum to the University’s mission, the strength of its enrollment, and the quality of admitted students and their success are key indicators of program viability and sustainability.
Faculty – Faculty are the foundation of graduate degree programs and contribute to the success of graduate education at WVU. The viability of each program is dependent upon a critical mass of faculty, their academic preparation, and their scholarly endeavors.
Resources – Fundamental to the success of graduate education at WVU is the financial and infrastructure support needed to provide a strong academic experience. The availability of space, departmental/college resources, and/or extramural funding are assessed as part of the program review process.
Assessment – Ongoing program self-assessment is critical to understanding and addressing the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities facing graduate education. Assessment is based upon monitoring student learning outcomes and the continual evaluation and adjustment of curricula and approaches to promote student learning. The Graduate Council evaluates graduate program activities that are designed to advance the educational experience at WVU.
Designation as a “Program of Excellence”
During each review cycle, graduate programs may apply for designation as a Board of Governors “Program of Excellence.” Such designation is based on various attributes, including national recognition, strong curriculum and program assessment, and evidence of success for students receiving degrees from the program.
Review of Accredited Programs
Programs that are accredited by specialized accrediting or approving agencies recognized by the Federal Government and/or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation are considered to have met the minimum requirements of the review process. These programs must submit the comprehensive institutional self-study conducted in compliance with the accreditation or approval process and a copy of the letter containing the conferral of accreditation or approval. Additional and updated information may be requested to allow the Graduate Council to complete a thorough review of these programs, but a complete self-study report is typically not needed.
Outcomes of Review
The five-year cycle of program review will result in an institutional recommendation for action on each program under review. Separate recommendations will be made for masters and doctoral programs within the same discipline, even if only one self-study report is submitted. The Graduate Council will provide a 1-2-page program summary and recommendation for action for each program and forward it to the Office of Provost, which will present it to the WVU Board of Governors. The BOG recommendations will be reported to the WV Higher Education Policy Commission.
The institution is obligated to recommend continuation or discontinuation for each program reviewed. In its recommendation, the Graduate Council should outline specific actions that may be a contingency of the recommendation:
- Continuation of the program at the current level of activity, with or without specific action;
- Continuation of the program at a reduced level of activity (e.g., reducing the range of optional tracks) or other corrective action;
- Identification of the program for further development;
- Development of a cooperative program with another unit, or sharing of courses, facilities, faculty, and the like;
- Discontinuance of the program (the provisions of Higher Education Policy Commission policy on approval and discontinuance of academic programs will apply).
The Graduate Council may request additional information before making a recommendation and may recommend continuance on a provisional basis along with a request for progress reports.
The Appeals Process
Any disagreement between a final recommendation of the Graduate Council and the academic unit may be appealed to the WVU Board of Governors.