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Program Review

Driving a Culture of Continuous Improvement

About Program Review

Program Review at Northwestern University began in 1985 as a faculty initiative to achieve and maintain the highest standards of excellence within all academic and administrative units of the University. For over 30 years, Program Review has encouraged strategic planning and continuous improvement across Northwestern. 

All of the University’s academic departments, major research centers, and administrative units are reviewed once every seven to ten years through the Program Review process.  The process includes a unit self-assessment, external and internal review, and an implementation agreement plan that outlines actions to be taken following the review. As part of the process, an external review team of experts in the field from exemplary peer institutions, joined by an internal review team of senior Northwestern faculty and/or staff, assesses the unit and provides recommendations for improvement. 

Program Review is administered by the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Planning with oversight from the Program Review Council, a rotating committee of senior faculty and administrators. The Office of Institutional Research provides assistance with data components of the process.

The Program Review Office maintains active membership status in the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation (NCCI) and the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP).


This image is of the NCCI logo, which stands for "Network for Change and Continuous Innovation", a professioal organization.                          This image is of the SCUP logo, which stands for "Society for College and University Planning", a professioal organization.


Quick Links

This table includes several resources related to Program Review.

Procedures Guide

  • A more in-depth history of Program Review and its processes. 
  • Are you interested in how Northwestern conducts
    Program Review? Read the Procedures Guide here.           
Program Review Council Guide
  • A useful resource guide for the Program Review Council.
  • Are you a new member of the Program Review Council? Read the Program Review Council Guide here.                                                             
External and Internal Reviewer Guide
  • A useful resource guide for external and internal reviewers visiting
    Northwestern for Program Review. 
  • Have you been invited to serve as an external or internal reviewer in the Program Review process? Read the External and Internal Reviewer Guide here.