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Rackham Program Review

Rackham Program Review (RPR) is a collaborative effort among the Graduate School, our partner schools and colleges and individual programs to identify opportunities to continuously improve graduate education at the University of Michigan. The program review takes a multi-faceted look at graduate education and uses past review recommendations and action plans as well as a variety of data to inform guided conversations between the graduate school and faculty in departmental leadership roles. These conversations include, in part, the current scope and status of the program, sharing of best practices across graduate education, and the future direction of the program.

Rackham Program Review (RPR)

The purpose of the Rackham Program Review is to strengthen the collaboration among Rackham, the faculty responsible for graduate programs, and the other schools and colleges. This collaborative process helps to identify opportunities to improve graduate education and complements the expertise of the program’s faculty through the sharing of data about historical patterns and ideas for promising practices in graduate education. At the end of the process, Rackham will be better informed about the needs and challenges of each graduate program and can make policy, programmatic, and resource allocation decisions accordingly.

The Review Process

Programs are reviewed every five years.

Mid-Winter: Program Notified of Review and Current Students Surveyed

Programs are notified of the upcoming review and asked to complete the Preliminary Information Form which captures specific program information such as changes in curriculum, measures of success, and funding practices. Rackham staff anonymously survey current graduate students to learn how the graduate program can facilitate graduate student success.

Early-Fall: Rackham and Graduate Program Leadership – Meeting One

Data is shared with the program prior to the meeting. The first meeting conversation focuses on successes and challenges for the program, how plans for the program have been realized, responses to the data sent (career outcomes and survey of graduating doctoral students) and how program leadership can engage with faculty about near and long-term changes in the discipline, especially as it concerns graduate education.

Late-Fall: Rackham Associate Dean and Graduate Program Leadership – Meeting Two

In preparation for the second meeting, Rackham sends program-specific data on current students (recruitment, admissions, completion, and the survey of current students). Looking at this data, the discussion focuses on where the program is in terms of the future direction and steps to move closer to that vision. Although program quality is principally in the hands of the faculty, Rackham shares expertise and examples to assist faculty initiatives.

Early-Winter: Deans Meetings and Final Letters

At the conclusion of the meetings, the Dean of Rackham and the Associate Dean write a letter summarizing the conversations with faculty leadership. The Deans of Rackham and the Dean of the school or college meet to discuss the strengths and opportunities of the graduate programs that participated in the review as highlighted in the draft letter. This conversation focuses on how to collaborate in supporting the next steps to improve the quality of the graduate program. At the conclusion of this meeting, the letters are finalized and sent to the department chair, graduate chair, and dean of each participating graduate program in early winter.

Early-Spring: Program Leadership Responses to Letters

Graduate program leadership is asked to provide a written response to address the recommendations in the final letters. Graduate programs are provided the opportunity to submit a proposal to address an issue identified during the program review process.


  • RPR collaborates with the Rackham Institutional Research Office (IR) to share data that informs the conversations with graduate program leadership. IR has publicly facing program data that can be found on our Program Statistics page.
  • RPR partnered with ADVANCE to survey a cross section of faculty leadership about their experience in RPR. The Executive Summary of the report is available for your review.

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