On a 10 to 12 year cycle, academic departments undergo a formal external review. Departments may also request a review in preparation for a retirement or curricular revision. After receiving notification from the Office of the Provost, departments begin the external review process by conducting a self study, initiated by the Department Chair and involving faculty, students, and alumni from the department. A self study includes:
- The department's student learning goals and core program objectives;
- An explanation of how the department's curriculum allows the department to achieve these goals; this should be in narrative form but also can be accompanied by a visual representation (e.g., a "curriculum map");
- Comprehensive course syllabi and sample examinations;
- Information about how faculty research and professional activity informs the curriculum, department, and student work;
- The department's resources and needs, including material holdings, equipment and other facilities, and any support staff (or needs for support staff);
- Quantitative information including numbers of majors and minors, overall course enrollments, and average and median grades for the last ten years;
- Comparison of the departmental curriculum and overall program with analogous departments at peer institutions on (this might take both descriptive and statistical form);
- Documentation of the methods that your department and faculty use to measure success at achieving student learning and program objectives;
- Available career information on recent graduates;
- Future plans or aspirations for the curriculum, student learning, and assessment;
- A list of questions that the department wishes the visiting committee to address.
The Provost's Office offers support for the department's efforts to gather materials for the self-study. When Haverford departments have a Bryn Mawr counterpart, external reviews are conducted jointly with Bryn Mawr. Bi-college departments are also reviewed jointly.
The Provost's Office contacts all Haverford departments due for review in a given five-year period, to establish a tentative schedule for reviews . At least one year in advance of a planned review, the Provost confirms the schedule for external reviews and consults with the Provost at Bryn Mawr College as necessary. External Reviews are conducted by a Visiting committee. The department makes recommendations about the composition of the visiting committee, which are shared with the Provost, who makes additional suggestions as necessary and determines the final composition of the committee (in consultation with Bryn Mawr's Provost for counterpart and Bi-College programs).
Visiting Committees examine the total program of a given department with the purpose of helping the department make a more effective contribution to the life of the College. The Haverford administration usually frames specific charges to such committees, sometimes with input from the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) and the Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP). After conducting a two-day visit, the Visiting Committee writes a comprehensive report, including any recommendations that members of the Visiting Committee choose to make. The Visiting Committee Report is shared with the Provost, the President of the College, and the Department undergoing review. The Department makes a formal, written response to the Visiting Committee Report.