Program Review Process

Missouri State program reviews are structured to allow the program faculty and all levels of administration to regularly gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of university academic programs. Academic programs undergo review on a staggered, seven-year cycle. The documents that result from these reviews are posted on the Program Review website.

Each cycle of the MSU program review or accreditation process begins with an extensive self-study.  For the MSU program review, the self-study is comprised of 1) a description and review of performance and progress in accomplishing previous goals and objectives delineated in the program’s strategic plan and addressed in recent annual reports, 2), an analysis of current priorities and objectives within the context of the university’s current Long-Range Plan, and 3) a SWOT.  The self-study is followed by an external review during which an outside consultant reviews departmental documentation, visits the campus, and prepares a report with recommendations.  Following review and discussion of the external consultant’s report, the unit develops an action plan, which consists of responses to the recommendations and specific actions that will be taken.  The result of integrating changes may or may not change the program’s strategic plan, depending on the extensiveness of those changes.

It is the policy of the University to attain accreditation for all programs for which accreditation is offered (view accreditations). An academic program having an accreditation may use the accreditation process as its periodic review. Reports from the accreditation evaluators are used in a manner similar to reports from an external evaluator for further deliberation by the department/program which then prepares a response. 

Purpose of program review

The 2016–21 Long-Range Plan affirms that the university values, “continuous improvement in our programs, policies, and procedures.” Further, the Executive Summary prepared for the 2015 site visit by the Higher Learning Commission points to MSU’s enhanced program review system as one of its strengths. Through cyclic program review, MSU programs can analyze and reflect on their performance across a specified time period. Considerations of strengths and needs should occur both prior to and following external review. Recommendations and the department responses to those recommendations form the foundation for optimal future planning, both by the department and the college. 

The program review calendar is currently being revised. 

Program review process

The program review process is coordinated by the Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College. Questions can be referred to The table below includes the steps in the process, the associated timeline or due date, and the person(s) responsible. Links to materials to facilitate preparation also are included. 

Program review process steps

Timeline or due date

Persons responsible

Preparation of self-study


Faculty and Department Head

Submission of self-study to college dean

June 1

Department Head

Self-study electronically submitted to Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College. If desired, the document(s) can be stored on a server and links for accessing the materials can be provided

July 1

Department Head and/or College Dean

Selection of potential external reviewer(s). View guidelines on selecting external reviewers.


Department Head, College Dean, Provost

External reviewer(s) contacted to determine willingness and availability to perform the review. Final selections and dates confirmed.


College Dean

Travel arrangements for external reviewer(s)


Department Head and Dean

Invitation letter and self-study sent to external reviewer(s). View sample invitation letter.


Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College

Agenda finalized and sent to external reviewer. View template for planning the agenda.

At least one month prior to campus visit

Department Head and Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College

External reviewer visits campus

Fall semester


External reviewer submits report

30 days after campus visit


Reimbursement of expenses and honorarium sent to external reviewer. Costs are shared by the college and the Office of the Provost

Upon receipt of report

College Dean

Action Plan is developed

Spring semester

Faculty and Department Head, College Dean

Action Plan submitted electronically to Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College

May 1

Department Head and/or College Dean

Self Study, External Review, Action Plan posted on Program Review Website

Following receipt

Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College

Program review expenses

Costs for program review are shared by the academic unit and the Office of the Provost.  The external reviewer receives an honorarium of $2000 and travel expenses.  If this level of compensation is considered too low to attract a qualified reviewer, the department should provide data to make the case for compensating at a higher level and gain approval from the provost and college dean.  Payment is coordinated by the academic unit (department or college).  The Provost’s Office will transfer $1500 per reviewer to unit’s budget, and the remaining costs are provided by the unit.

Program Review Navigation