Program Evaluation

One of the primary goals of the Graduate School is to improve graduate education at NC State. Program evaluation offers a way of achieving that goal by providing guidance to improve individual programs. Here, we describe the two main types of program evaluation, outcomes assessment and external reviews.

Outcomes Assessment of Graduate Programs

For directors of degree and certificate programs

All degree and transcripted certificate programs are required to be assessed annually in the spring in accordance with the university regulation. Program directors are responsible for assuring that their programs are assessed and that the assessment reports meet the necessary criteria in the rubric for evaluating reports. After reports are submitted, department heads and/or deans/associate deans will review them and evaluate them according to the criteria, returning them to directors for further work if necessary.

For an overview of the entire assessment process, see Flowchart for Assessment of Academic Programs. For access to the online Academic Program Assessment system, use the URL go.ncsu.edu/apa.

If you are new to outcomes assessment, see An Introduction to Outcomes Assessment of Graduate Programs.

For department heads and deans/associate deans

Heads and deans/associate deans are responsible for assuring the quality of the assessment reports and the accountability of the outcomes assessment process in accordance with the university regulation.

Quality. The role of the head is to assure that reports submitted by program directors in their departments meet the criteria in the rubric for evaluating reports. If not, the head is to return the reports to directors for further work until they do meet the criteria. When all departmental reports are acceptable, the head submits them to the college dean/associate dean.

The dean/associate dean has the same role at the college level, assuring the quality of reports submitted by heads and, when they meet the criteria in the rubric for evaluating reports, submitting them to the facilitators for the final review.

Accountability. The academic line of department head, dean/associate dean, and provost is designated as the key source of accountability in the assessment process. The evidence of that accountability is in the summary reports produced by heads and deans/associate deans. These reports consist of responses to the following questions:

  1. What did you learn from the assessment reports about how effective your department’s/college’s programs are in achieving their outcomes?
  2. What steps should be taken to enhance the effectiveness of outcomes assessment to improve programs in your department/college?
  3. What are some examples of productive new actions taken by faculty to improve their programs?
  4. What are some general issues that emerged in your reading of the reports that the dean/provost should be aware of?

Processes for both quality and accountability are described in the Flowchart for Assessment of Academic Programs. For access to the online Academic Program Assessment system, use the URL go.ncsu.edu/apa.

External Review of Graduate Programs

Information for Reviewers

The external review is very important to graduate education and research at NC State.

  • A diagram of the external review process provides a schematic overview of it.
  • In the external review, a team of reviewers consisting of one or more external reviewers, an internal reviewer, and a representative of the Graduate School produces a written report.
  • The Graduate School arranges flight and hotel reservations for external reviewers.

Information for DGPs and Department Heads

Preparation for the review and the follow-up activities after the review take about a year.

  • To find out when your program is slated for its next external review, see the Comprehensive Program Review Schedule.
  • A diagram of the external review process offers a schematic overview of it. A timeline describes the approximately one-year process.
  • The Graduate School, the department or program, and, where appropriate, the Division of Academic and Student Affairs each has its own responsibilities for the review.
  • You can use a checklist as a guide to preparing for the review.
  • A critical part of preparing for the review is writing a self-study document. Self-study guidelines provide help with that document. Associate Dean Carter can provide a Word version of the guidelines you can use a template. He will also work with you on drafting an agenda.
  • After the review, you can record progress in implementing the reviewers’ recommendations in your annual outcomes assessment reports.