Academic Reviews

The University Graduate School conducts academic reviews of graduate programs to ensure excellent quality of programs across the university.

Academic reviews of graduate programs normally take place during the general program reviews of departments.

Reviews normally consist of at least four components:

  • Collection of data on the graduate program
  • Written departmental self-assessment
  • Written assessment by reviewers from Indiana University, but from outside the department
  • Written assessment by reviewers from the same intellectual discipline, but from outside IU

The Graduate Program Bank is database that provides annual data since the 1991–92 academic year for more than 100 variables, such as undergraduate GPA averages and GRE scores for graduate students; degree completion time for students receiving the Ph.D.; percentages of female, minority, and international students; schools where recipients of Ph.D.’s are placed; and national rankings.

The University Graduate School has developed two sets of questions to be used in academic review—one set for departmental self-assessment, and one set for use by external reviews—that focus on the qualities that the Graduate Council finds important to cultivating excellent programs. Specific reviews require specialized consideration, and it may be that in some reviews some questions, or even areas of questions, will become more or less significant.

  • Questions for Departmental Self-Assessment
    • Describe your recruiting and admission procedures: the criteria you use for admissions, the procedures you follow, the percentage admitted, and the percentage finally matriculating.
    • What schools do you compete with in recruiting students?
    • How much financial aid do you have available to use for recruiting new students (as opposed to supporting students already on campus)?
    • What could be done to improve your recruitment?
    • What new specialties have developed in your field during the past few years?
    • How has your department responded to these developments?
    • What new interdisciplinary programs has the department participated in?
    • What are the assumptions that underlie your curriculum for the master's and doctoral degrees?
    • How sequentially is your curriculum structured? What is the relationship between your undergraduate program and your graduate program?
    • How much overlap in courses is there?
    • What percentage of the graduate courses listed in the University Graduate School Bulletin do you offer each year?
    • How could your graduate curriculum be improved?
    Advising and Mentoring
    • How are graduate students advised in your department?
    • What opportunities are there for mentoring?
    • Does every student have an assigned advisory committee or mentor?
    • What attempts are made to monitor and evaluate each student's progress?
    • Is there any system for the selection of dissertation directors and committees?
    • What opportunities are there for students and faculty to meet (formally or informally) to discuss their research?
    • How could your advising system be improved?
    Associate Instructor (AI) Training
    • Describe your AI training program, including any materials that are used for this purpose.
    • How is the teaching performance of your AIs evaluated?
    • To what extent do AIs have full responsibility for courses or sections of courses?
    • How could your department be more effective in training, evaluating, and utilizing AIs?
    • How are students advised for placement?
    • What percentage of your students find the kind of employment they would prefer shortly after graduation?
    • How typical of your field is your placement record?
    • Please list your graduates for the past two years by position, title, and employing institution.
    • How could your placement be improved?
    • Please identify the resources you have available for supporting students from institutional, governmental, and private sources.
    • What steps have been taken to generate support?
    Quality Assessment
    • How do you measure the quality of your program (statistical profiles of incoming students, national rankings)?
    • What awards and distinctions (including various kinds of fellowships, grants, etc.) have been won by your students in the past three years?
    • What research and creative activity have they engaged in, including such things as presentations at professional meetings and articles published?
    • Have dissertations of recent graduates (say during the past five years) been published, either entirely or in part?
    • Do you have a long-range planning document?
    • How would you improve your department if additional resources were available?
    • f they were not?
    • Describe the development strategy that guides your fundraising efforts.
  • Questions for External Reviewers
    Assessment of Quality

    The key criterion for the evaluation of graduate programs should be excellence, though, of course, it is recognized that the different missions of the department, such as research and undergraduate teaching, may create differing concepts of excellence.

    • What is your overall assessment of the graduate program?
    • What are its strengths?
    • What is distinctive about the program?
    • What makes it special?
    • What are its weaknesses?
    • How does the graduate program compare with the leading programs in the country?
    Assessment of Potential

    A major concern is whether a program is living up to its potential.

    • How good can the graduate program be?
    • What are the major comparative advantages, and what are the major constraints that affect the potential of the graduate program?
    • Does the manner in which the graduate program is organized hinder or enhance its future?
    • How should efforts and resources be concentrated on the areas which have the greatest potential for excellence?

    Your perspective as an external observer can be invaluable to Indiana University in providing a broad assessment of this program. Your recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

    • What must be done to preserve and enhance the quality of the graduate program?
    • Should substantial changes be made in the graduate program?
    • What future directions should the department follow in order to augment its existing strengths?
    • Given budgetary limitations, what resources must be provided to the graduate program?
    • What specific recommendations regarding the graduate program do you have for the department and its chair?
    • What recommendations do you have for the dean of the college or school?
    • What recommendations do you have for the Dean of the University Graduate School?
    • Is there anything else you noticed that would be useful for the department chair, school dean, or graduate dean to know?
    • Do you have any other suggestions or recommendations?
External Resources

The Council of Graduate Schools’ “A Policy Statement: Academic Review of Graduate Programs” is a recommended outside resource to consult on academic reviews.