Section 400: Academic Affairs

Effective: November 1, 2002


Periodic review of academic programs is important to Montana State University-Northern for several reasons:

  • it insures the viability and relevance of the programs;
  • it serves as an important assessment process for the institution;
  • it helps the institution with its planning efforts, including the appropriate expenditure of its resources;
  • it guarantees that all programs are regularly evaluated and reviewed by the faculty and administrators responsible for the academic health of Montana State University-Northern.

Procedures for Program Review

The following procedures have been established for the internal review process:

A. The faculty in the academic program under review are responsible for preparing the information and documentation that becomes the basis for the review. That documentation will hereinafter be referred to as the Report.

  1. The Report will be based on the Academic Scorecard that is part of the MSU-Northern Master Plan. Some of the information in the Academic Scorecard is objective and quantitative in nature, and the institution will assist the program faculty in the preparation of that data. Significant sections of the Scorecard are subjective and narrative in format, and the program faculty should use those sections as an opportunity to "tell their story." The Academic Scorecard is attached to this policy as Appendix I.
  2. In preparing the Report, program faculty are urged to interpret data, suggest solutions or remedies to program problems identified during the preparation of the Report, and make recommendations on the future direction of the program.
  3. The faculty group responsible for preparing the Report will vary in size, since the number of faculty responsible for individual programs is different. At a minimum, two (2) faculty members should work on the Report. Three (3) faculty members would be an ideal work group for the Report.

B. Once the Report is completed, the faculty who prepared the document are expected to make a report about the program to the College where the program resides.

C. Following the presentation of the report described in part 2. B., a College work group will be assembled to prepare a response to the Report.

  1. The work group will be appointed by the chair/dean of the College.
  2. The group will have four (4) members, one of whom must be a faculty member in the program under review.
  3. The chair/dean of the College where the program resides will not be a member of the work group. He/she will, however, serve as a facilitator for the group's deliberations, by scheduling meetings, assisting with discussions, providing support for the actual preparation of the response, presiding over any formal meetings of the work group and so on.
  4. The work group will review the Report prepared by the program faculty and make a recommendation or recommendations about the program. The form or content of those recommendations is not set out in this policy; but it should focus on the criteria set out in the Academic Scorecard, especially any criteria that appear to be problematic for the program.

D. The chair/dean of the College where the program resides will also prepare a separate, independent response to the Report, with recommendations for future action where that seems appropriate. In preparing his/her response, the chair/dean will be guided by the directions in part C. 4. above.

E. Both the response from the College work group and the response from the College chair/dean will be submitted to the academic leadership team, which is made up of the chairs/deans of the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Graduate Studies, the College of Nursing, the College of Technical Sciences and the Provost.

  1. The chairs/deans will prepare a response to the documents submitted by the program faculty, the College work group and the College chair/dean. That response will be guided by the principles described in section C. 4. above
  2. The Provost will serve as a facilitator for the chairs/deans in their deliberations, performing the same functions described in section C. 3. above.

F. The Provost will prepare a response, after considering all of the documents submitted by the program faculty, the College work group, the College chair/dean, and the academic leadership team.

G. The Chancellor will make a final decision, with recommendations if that is appropriate.

H. The timeline for program review is attached to this policy as Appendix II. The timeline for the first round of program review, in 2002 - 2003, is set out in the second half of the Appendix. The timeline for program review in every year thereafter is set out in the first part of Appendix II.

I. Every academic program on the campus of Montana State University-Northern will be reviewed at least once during a five (5) year period. The schedule for that review is attached to this policy as Appendix III.

Appendix I

MSU-Northern Academic Scorecard

Incorporating the goals and measures outlined above, the team developed an Academic Scorecard which serves as the framework for measuring academic performance--primarily that educational programs are contributing to the overall stability and success of Northern; that they are addressing the educational needs of the region and state; and that they are aligned with the university 's mission and strategic direction. The framework also serves to guide further planning by all academic departments within the university. The primary components of the Academic Scorecard are as follows:

  • Perspective Areas. Six significant areas for improvement in academic programs: student enrollment and graduation; quality; innovation and uniqueness; placement and industry demand; efficient use of resources, and relationship to the university's mission.
  • Academic Goals. Goals that all academic programs should seek to achieve.
  • Measures. Performance indicators that will be used to measure progress and achievement of academic goals.

Benchmarks (Targeted Outcomes). Targeted progress or achievement levels preferred for each measure. Some benchmarks are pre-established and serve as the minimum achievement levels to be reached by each academic program. For other benchmarks, internal baseline or historical data on each of the performance measures will be gathered first; then benchmarks will be established for each academic program. Once the process is completed, the benchmarks will be added to the scorecard.

The Academic Scorecard is presented in the table below and on the following pages.


Goal: Increasing the number of students enrolling and graduating from Northern.

Measures Benchmarks (Targeted Outcomes)
Number of majors and minors (if applicable) in the program for the last five years; a total for each year, and an average for the period - disaggregated by on- and off-campus (or location).
a. 3 year average of 52 and 26 majors/minors for undergraduate and graduate programs*
Number of graduates from the program for the last five years; a total for each year, and an average for the period - disaggregated by on- and off-campus (or location).
b. 3 year average of 10 and 6 graduates from undergraduate and graduate programs*
Semester-to-semester retention rate, by program, for the last three years, and an average for the period - disaggregated by on- and off-campus (or location). c1. 70% retention rate*

c2. Number of incoming students sufficient to achieve (b) given the programs' retention rate (c1) and current number of majors/minors (a) [note: will vary by program]*

* Denotes a minimum benchmark for all programs to achieve.


Goal: Increasing the quality of academic programs.

Measures Benchmarks (Targeted Outcomes)
Professional or association standards, or other external measures of quality.
a. Determined by program
Quality of the faculty (e.g., publications, professional conferences or presentations, certifications, awards, service to professional associations, etc.). This measure will vary from program to program because of the broad range of programs offered at MSU-Northern.
b. Determined by program
Employer and Advisory Committee satisfaction using survey information.
c. Determined by program
Student satisfaction using survey information and other appropriate measures (e.g., exit interviews of students upon graduation, focus groups, etc.). d. Determined by program



Goal: Increasing the ways in which Northern's academic programs are innovative and unique.

Measures Benchmarks (Targeted Outcomes)
What is unusual or different about the degree program, when compared to institutions that compete with MSU-Northern?
a. Determined by program
What is innovative about the degree program in the way it delivers its coursework, serves its students, creates career opportunities for students, or develops its curriculum? b. Determined by program


Goal: Increasing Northern's responsiveness to industry demands and the rate at which Northern's students are placed in related employment.

Measures Benchmarks (Targeted Outcomes)
Placement rates for students in their career field, and number of graduates going on for additional education, for each of the last five years.
a. To be determined from graduate survey data
Industry demand and forecasts for program graduates.
b. Determined by program
Relationships with industry (e.g., formal partnerships or initiatives with industry, student work experiences, donations, etc.). c. Determined by program



Goal: Increasing the efficient and effective use of academic resources.

Measures Benchmarks (Targeted Outcomes)
Resources committed to program, using two measures: ratio of program dollars to state allocated dollars; average cost of educating a student in the program; information reported for each of the last three years - disaggregated by on- and off-campus (or location).
a. To be determined
FTES by program for each of the last three years, and an average FTES for the period; student credit hours, by program, for each of the last 3 years, and an average for the period - disaggregated by on- and off-campus (or location). b. To be determined


Goal: Increasing the alignment of academic programs with Northern's Mission and Educational Master Plan.

Measures Benchmarks (Targeted Outcomes)
How the program addresses Northern's mission statement.
a. Determined by program
How the program meets the core educational values of MSU-Northern (to be completed).
b. Determined by program
How the program addresses the Key Assumptions and Principles to Guide Educational Planning and Programming at MSU-Northern. c. Determined by program


Timeline for Program Review

  • Fall semester: program faculty complete study.
  • December: program faculty make presentation to entire College.
  • January - February: College prepares report and recommendation(s); Dean prepares separate report/recommendation(s)
  • March: deans' council prepares its report and recommendation(s).
  • April: provost prepares report and recommendation(s).
  • May: chancellor makes recommendation(s).

Schedule for 2002 - 2003:

  • Fall semester: program review process discussed with faculty groups.
  • Spring semester: program faculty complete study.
  • April: program faculty make presentation to entire College.
  • September - mid-October: College prepares report and recommendation(s). Dean prepares separate report/recommendation(s).
  • mid-October to mid-November: deans' council prepares its report and recommendation(s).
  • November - December: provost prepares report and recommendation(s).
  • December: chancellor makes recommendation(s).


Review Schedule for Academic Programs

2002 - 2003
nursing, B.S.N.
communications, B.A. and minor
water quality, A.A.S. and B.S.
railroad maintenance & operations, A.A.S.
auto body, A.A.S. and minor
civil engineering technology, A.A.S., B.S. and minor
electronics engineering, A.A.S.
elementary education, M.Ed.
health & physical education, B.S.Ed. and minor

2003 - 2004
nursing, A.S.N.
liberal studies, B.A.
native american studies, minor
general science, M.Ed.
agriculture, A.A.S. and minor
computer information systems, A.A.S., B.A. and minor
business technology, program of study, B.S. and minor
counselor education, M.Ed. and minor

2004 - 2005
English, B.S.Ed. and minor
graphic design, A.A.S. and B.A.
agricultural mechanics, A.A.S. and minor
diesel technology, A.A.S., B.S. and minor
automotive technology, A.A.S., B.S. and minor
technical sales & service, minor
learning development, M.S.
reading, minor

2005 - 2006
general science, B.S.Ed.
community service, B.A. and minor
art, minor
business education, B.S.Ed. and minor
agricultural operations technology, B.S.
design drafting, A.A.S., B.S. and minor
computer engineering technology, A.A.S. and B.S.
accounting, minor
traffic education, minor
health promotion, B.S. and minor

2006 - 2007
biology, B.S. and minor
social science, B.S.Ed.
associate of arts, A.A.
industrial technology, B.S.
computer information systems, teaching minor
small business management, minor
school business administration, A.A.S.
industrial technology, B.S. with a teaching option
elementary education, B.S.Ed.