Academic Program Review Policy

The academic program review process is integral to the assessment and academic planning of academic programs at the Health Science Center. The process is intended to examine, assess, and strengthen academic programs offered at the Health Science Center. Program reviews are a means to ensure advancement in the quality of the Health Science Center’s academic programs. The process enables a comprehensive assessment of goals, infrastructure, operations, and outcomes in relation to the mission and strategic plan of the university. The program review process facilitates dialogue among the president, vice president, dean and program faculty leadership. The process provides an organized and structured opportunity for all to reflect on educational practices and review the role of their program in the context of the full array of programs offered by their school and institution.

The evaluative, directional and planning judgments resulting from program reviews are oriented within the context both of disciplinary/professional norms and department, school, and university missions and goals. The areas in which program quality is evaluated include, but are not limited to:

  • Student enrollment, retention and graduation.

  • Student advisement, engagement and support.

  • The quality of educational programs, including assessment of student learning.

  • Curricula and curricular contributions to university programs.

  • Faculty and department contributions in teaching, research, creative activity, scholarly work and service.

  • Diversity and cultural proficiency.

  • The quality of outreach activities and service to the institution, the profession and the community.

  • The contribution or importance of the program to other campus programs.

  • Program governance and administrative support.

  • Program operations and resources.

  • Facilities, library and other educational resources available to and utilized by the schools.

  • Safety and adequacy of physical facilities.

  • The sustainability of human and financial resources to maintain a quality program.

  • The strengths and weakness of the program.

  • Ability to meet accreditation standards.

The Health Science Center has a multi-tiered and multi-dimensional academic review process as a result of its public mission. The review of academic programs includes external organizations such as The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACS-COC), as well as school and program-specific accrediting organizations. The THECB assesses the level of degree productivity within the schools as well as identifying low completer programs that require institutional review. In addition to external review, there is also a comprehensive internal academic review process that includes The University of Texas System and the Health Science Center Deans' Council, Health Science Center Executive Committee and school-specific curriculum committees, admission committees or the equivalent(s).


The Health Science Center mandates that all academic programs receive a comprehensive review on a periodic basis. At a minimum, the academic program review will examine, during a six year cycle, all degree granting programs including certificate programs within academic units. The academic program review cycle includes and aligns to the requirements for school-specific accreditation organizations and the THECB. The Vice President for Academic, Faculty, and Student Affairs collaborates with respective school deans to establish programmatic review dates.

All Centers and Institutes are also reviewed in collaboration with program reviews. The Vice President for Research collaborates with Center and Institute Directors for their review dates.

Faculty Leadership or School-Specific Equivalent

The Health Science Center academic program review process includes multiple internal and external academic review committees that will ensure the process is comprehensive.

Faculty, deans, department chairs and duly constituted school committees (including admission, curriculum, promotion) have the primary responsibility for curriculum design, development, management, evaluation and authority to enact curricular change in accordance with school-specific accreditation standards which may include review and revision of credit hours (or alternative measurement methodology), curriculum objectives, content, integration and linkages across program components, as well as, teaching methodologies, component and overall programmatic evaluations and learning outcomes.

Current Curriculum and Curriculum Management

The primary factors that shape the current curriculum include:

  1. Student-feedback
  2. Peer feedback
  3. Professional accreditation
  4. Research
  5. Continuous faculty review of the curriculum
  6. Competency based curriculum and assessment of competency
  7. National trends

The school-specific Curriculum Committee or the equivalent is supported with leadership and supervision from the Vice President for Academic, Faculty, and Student Affairs and the Dean.

Expertly Blended Review Committee(s) or the Equivalent

The diverse degree programs offered at the Health Science Center mandate that expertly blended curriculum committees or the equivalent with discipline specific knowledge participate in the academic review process. The school-specific expert blended Curriculum Committee or equivalent is a standing committee as specified in the Health Science Center Handbook on Operating Procedures.

The Expert Blended review Committee or equivalent is charged minimally to:

  • Oversee the evaluation, review, and recommend curriculum and content.

  • Conduct a periodic needs assessment of courses and programs on various criteria including changes in learning content from national and regional standards, interest of students and future employers in programs, and the number of graduates from programs.

  • Ensure each program has student learning outcomes that are appropriate for the program, including assessment measurement, targets, and benchmarks.

  • Assess the duplication of courses and/or programs within the School.

  • Ensure that each program director is appropriately assessing data to determine if modifications and/or changes to the curriculum are needed.

  • Ensure the curriculum has adequate hours and courses to meet the student learning outcomes based on other similar programs and/or national standards.

  • Initiate a curriculum mapping process to determine course sequencing, breadth, and depth of course content, student learning outcomes and degree requirements.

  • Determine whether program credit hours and equivalent school-specific accreditation standards of measurement are adequate and meet state requirements.

  • Review student course evaluation trends and trends in student concerns and issues and recommend systems level solutions.

  • Review student recruitment publications for accuracy in representing the institution’s practices and policies.

Faculty Council and Faculty Assembly or Equivalent

In accordance with the rules and regulations of the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System each of the University schools has a Faculty Council and Faculty Assembly or the equivalent.

The individual Faculty Council or equivalent (Health Science Center Policy 1.4.2) acknowledges individual Faculty Councils or equivalent of the School of Dentistry, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Medicine, the School of Health Professions and the School of Nursing shall act as the principal recommending policy-making governing body on academic matters of each of their respective schools, subject to the Board of Regents Rules and Regulations of the University of Texas System.

The faculty groups or the equivalent, as defined in school-specific bylaws, shall be responsible, within limitations set by the Regents Rules and Regulations for recommending to the President policies with respect to the following:

  • The admission and instruction of students.

  • Approving the curriculum and establishing standards for academic performance, including measures to be taken in case of academic deficiencies.

  • The promotion and recommendation to the appropriate dean of candidates to be certified for graduation and the receiving of honors.

The Health Science Center Policy 1.4.3 on Faculty Assembly or equivalent also provides for faculty engagement in other institutional matters. The individual faculty assemblies of the School of Dentistry, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Medicine, the School of Health Professions, and the School of Nursing shall be subject to the authority of the Board of Regents and the authority vested in various administrative offices and subdivisions of the University of Texas System. The members of the Faculty Assembly or equivalent shall exhibit an active interest in the progress and future of the schools and shall be responsible for active participation in program planning for the schools and the campus as a whole. Faculty shall accept responsibility for performing these functions essential to the maintenance and conduct of programs of excellence in all activities of the school. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, general academic policies and welfare; student life and activities; requirements for admissions and graduation; honors and scholastic performance generally; approval of candidates for degrees; and faculty rules and procedures. In addition, the Faculty Assembly may consult with the Deans on general administrative affairs and on matters pertaining to the development of each school.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The THECB has primary responsibility for the review and approval for new degree programs and programs with substantive changes. This process ensures the degree programs are compatible with the institution’s role, scope, and mission.

The University of Texas System/Board of Regents

The University of Texas System policies and procedures and Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations for academic program standards apply to the Health Science Center. Justification for changing, adding and deleting programs requires a review by the University of Texas Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. The System's standards used for review and approval of academic programs are derived from three overarching principles that guide decisions about program goals, design and implementation at the University of Texas institutions. These principles are (Rule 40307):

  • Mission. Academic degree programs and certificates should be consistent with the higher education goals and mission of the States of Texas, the University of Texas System and the offering institution. This principle has implications not only for which programs should be offered by the UT System institutions, but also how they are designed and delivered so as to be responsive to the needs of students, parents, and the public and private sectors.

  • Quality. UT System degree and certificate programs must be of excellent quality. Program design, resources, and implementation plan judged critically in the view of the stated goals for a particular program, should compare favorably with state, national and international standards and competing programs. In general, they should exceed the minimum standards of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or appropriate accrediting bodies.

  • Efficient Use of Resources. Academic programs at institutions of the UT System must represent good investments and efficient use of public and private resources. Program choices, design and implementation plans should reflect wise use of institutional or shared resources.

The University of Texas System policy also mandates academic programs provide evidence of meeting the following standards:

  • Standards relating to Goal, Need, and Fit

  • Standards for Quality of Implementation

  • Standards for Costs and Revenues

  • Compliance Standards

  • Standards for Doctoral Programs

The System policy also acknowledges the role and responsibility for faculty in the evaluation and assessment for degree programs and also acknowledges the level of faculty expertise required to participate in the review and evaluation of degree programs. The expertise is compatible with the criteria often associated with promotion and tenure.

External Review Organizations

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges conducts an institutional evaluation for reaffirmation of accreditation every ten years and an interim review during the fifth year.

In addition, each school within the Health Science Center has specialized accrediting agencies. These professional and external organizations ensure that the Health Science Center programs are appropriate to the national standards. More information on these accrediting agencies may be found under each school’s section of this Catalog.

Additional Web Resources for Schools’ Accreditation Agencies