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Program Review


The Commission's role in the review of new academic programs originated with Assembly Bill 770 (1973) which established the Commission AB 770 assigned the Commission to review and comment on new academic programs, and directed Commission staff to establish review guidelines. The Commission adopted guidelines for review of new academic programs in 1975, and shifted the emphasis of the review process from individual case-by-case reviews to a long-range planning strategy. In 1981, revisions to the guidelines established the seven criteria for program review that are still used by CPEC staff in evaluating the need for new programs. The guidelines also provide a useful template to campus departments working on development of new programs, and serve to deter submission of programs that do not meet the criteria.

The Program Review Process

The Commission's role in program review is to coordinate the long-range planning of the state's public higher education systems -- University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges -- and review specific proposals that require extensive evaluation. The coordination of the three systems is meant to ensure that they are working together to carry out their individual missions while serving the state's long-range workforce and economic needs. The review of individual programs, determined by Commission staff, is intended to determine whether the costs of a program are justified by societal need and student demand for that program.

Review of Specific Programs

The Commission does not review all new program proposals. Staff review programs based on several factors. For example, a high-cost program, or one that is the first of its kind, will be subject to review. The Commission uses the following seven criteria for evaluation:
  • Student demand
  • Societal need
  • Appropriateness to institutional and segmental mission
  • Number of existing programs in the field
  • Total costs of program
  • Maintenance and improvement of quality
  • Advancement of knowledge
Program proposals must be submitted to the Commission for review by March 15 if they are scheduled for implementation in the fall, or by October 15 if they are scheduled to begin in the spring. Staff has 60 days to review and comment on the proposal. Due to the Commission's advisory role in the process, a segment can move forward with program implementation even when the Commission recommends non-approval.

Commission Reports on Program Review