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Purpose of Program Review

Driving a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Through Program Review, Northwestern University aims to: 

While significant time, effort, and resources are required to sustain the process, the value of Program Review has been affirmed time and time again through its capacity to catalyze change and continuous improvement throughout the University on a unit by unit basis. Now that Program Review is in its Fourth Cycle since its inception in 1985, the majority of University units have participated in Program Review before, and have on-going opportunities to build on specific recommendations and strategic goals identified in previous cycles. However, as the University is a highly dynamic environment, each review cycle is also an opportunity to reexamine where each unit is today with the purpose of repositioning it for strength in the coming years. Program Review provides a valuable opportunity for each unit to reflect and plan intentionally for the future.

Beyond fostering improvement within individual units, Program Review further facilitates increased collaboration between units, and provides information to school and University leadership to assist in strategic planning efforts across the University. The implementation agreements developed at the conclusion of each review encourage alignment of strategic priorities among stakeholders and foster a commitment to continued excellence.

Program Review also strives for constant improvement of its own procedures, undergoing a review each cycle, and collecting feedback throughout the process. Each review year, Program Review solicits feedback from external reviewers, Program Review Council members, internal reviewers, and unit heads to assess the effectiveness of the process and identify areas for improvement.

This table provides historical data on the number of Program Reviews conducted at Northwestern University, as well as the number of reviewers and Council members that have supported the process.
Number of Program Reviews Conducted
Number of Internal Reviewers and Program Review Council Members
Number of External Reviewers from Peer Institutions




The Program Review Office has been fortunate to have over 800 external reviewers from peer institutions serve on our review teams since the process's inception in 1985. Below is a list of institutions represented in recent years of Program Review.

2018-19 External Reviewer Institutions

  • Baylor University
  • Brown University
  • Cornell University
  • California Institute of Technology (2)
  • Creighton University
  • Duke University (4)
  • Georgetown University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Harvard University (3)
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2)
  • Oregon Health and Science University
  • Stanford University (2)
  • Texas Southwestern University
  • University of California - Berkeley
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Pennsylvania (2)
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington (2)
  • Washington University in St. Louis (2)

2017-18 External Reviewer Institutions

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Columbia University (2)
  • Dartmouth University
  • Duke University (3)
  • Emory University
  • Harvard University (3)
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Michigan State University
  • New York University (2)
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University (2)
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Florida
  • University of Michigan (2)
  • University of Pennsylvania (3)
  • University of Pittsburgh (2)
  • University of Southern California (2)
  • University of Wisconsin (3)
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Yale University (2)