External Review

The list of three qualified external reviewers is submitted via Curriculog when acknowledging the start of the Program Plan Process or with the request for an extension. The visit is scheduled and coordinated by the Undergraduate Education Office.

This step is not required for programs for externally professionally accredited programs that have already undergone external review.  If a department has professionally accredited program(s) and non-professionally accredited program(s), the latter must participate in an External Review. 

The external review typically takes at least a semester. The external reviewers report, along with rebuttals, if any, are submitted via Curriculog. The following are guidelines and suggestions for submitting candidates for external reviewers.

Submit External Reviewer Candidates

When requesting an extension or acknowledging the start of the Program Plan process, departments must submit at minimum three names for external reviewer candidates. Please provide a CV for each of the three suggested external reviewers. Departments are encouraged to recommend reviewers in California only because of the travel costs. Reviewers from other CSU's are recommended.

Departments may notify the reviewer candidates that their names were submitted to be selected as a reviewer, but the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education will work with the college dean to select an external reviewer and send an official invitation on behalf of the university. 

External Reviewer Visit

Once a formal invitation has been sent to the reviewer from the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Department Chair/School Director is responsible for organizing the logistics of the entire visit, in consultation with the reviewer.


If not included in the self-study, the Department Chair/School Director should make easily available:

  • Department and College annual budget summaries;
  • Department recruitment brochures, other key publications, advisement materials and annual reports if available;
  • Other materials requested by the reviewer after reading the self-study.


  1. Be sure the reviewer has the self-study and as many ancillary materials as possible three weeks prior to the visit. When the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education sends the invitation letter to the external reviewer a link to the self-study will be included.
  2. Arrange the entrance and exit interviews with appropriate administrative offices and the Program Planning Committee liaison, as noted below. Be sure the administrators have a copy of the reviewers schedule while on campus.

Since all external reviews are held virtually in the 2020-2021 academic year, be sure to review the Zoom FAQs, Do's and Don'ts, and security information provided by IT. Please note that Zoom Meeting rooms are limited to 300 attendees for SJSU users. If you require a Zoom Webinar set up to accomodate more than 300 participates (but less than 1,000), please email programplanning@sjsu.edu.


It is courteous to give the reviewer a copy of the schedule in advance, with names and titles/responsibilities of persons included. For in person meetings, please arrange to have a printed copy available. For virtual meetings, please be sure the Zoom links and passwords are clearly provided.

  1. Entrance Interview. Very early, normally first on the schedule after the reviewer has been "greeted," the reviewer should have a 45-50 minute meeting to hear the University and administrative perspective from, and to ask questions of, the College Dean, the Vice Provost Undergraduate Education, the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies (if the program offers a graduate degree) and the Director of Institutional Effectiveness & Analytics. This is normally a single meeting that includes all four administrators, with no department representatives present during the meeting. This meeting should be arranged by the Department Chair/School Director via the offices noted. The visit should not be scheduled unless at least three of these four administrators can be present. If an exception is required please contact VP Anagnos.

  2. Assure that someone is present to escort the reviewer to and from meetings.

  3. The External Reviewer Schedule should include formal visits as follows:
    • Department Chair - who should make very clear what the department hopes to gain from the review, what the key issues are, and what issues might lay behind the self-study materials and conclusions;
    • (except for virtual visits) Facilities inspection - this is often combined with the visit with the Chair, and may be quite extensive depending upon the complexity of the department's lab/studio/clinic structures. Allow time;
    • (except for virtual visits) Visits to any other facilities of interest to the reviewer, e.g., library. Ask in advance what is desired so that the schedule can include such visits;
    • Program regular faculty - there are normally a series of these visits, arranged to meet the program structure requirements;
    • Program temporary faculty (if significant in the department);
    • Undergraduate students, minimum 30 minutes (publicize);
    • Graduate students, minimum 30 minutes (publicize);
    • Recent graduates (often this is effective at a reception or dinner for the reviewer, a more relaxed environment);
    • Department support staff, typically 30 minutes;
    • Ask the College Dean if s/he wants a private meeting in addition to the entrance meeting; if so, arrange. Most do not.

  4. (except for virtual visits) Lunches and Dinners, which are arranged by and are the responsibility of the program, are an excellent opportunity for key department faculty to discuss issues informally and/or for graduates to have their say.

  5. (except for virtual visits) Do not keep the reviewer out late in the evening; these are tiring days as reviewers try to figure out the important variables at issue, what to say about those variables, and what questions to pursue in the second day, as they try to do their best for SJSU.

  6. Give the reviewer a full hour break and for in person a quiet place to work prior to the exit interview. An organized exit interview makes everyone feel better than an unstructured Q&A session.

  7. The Exit Interview, to be arranged by the Department Chair, should include:
    • Department Faculty Members - as many as possible. Please note that there have been a few exits attended only by the Department Chair/School Director and one or two faculty. This misses a great opportunity for important dialogue.
    • Provost or Senior Vice Provost (Essential Participant)
    • College Dean (Essential Participant)
    • Department Chair/School Director (Essential Participant)
    • Faculty may opt to invite support staff or representatives thereof
    • Vice Provost Undergraduate Education (Essential Participant)
    • Dean of the College of Graduate Studies (if applicable) (Essential Participant)
    • Liaison faculty member from the Program Planning Committee (Essential Participant)
    • Chair of the Program Planning Committee (if available)
    • Director of Assessment (if available)

The reviewer will be given the option of making a somewhat formal statement, to be followed by Q&A, or to permit Q&A and comments on an ongoing basis. The exit should be arranged for a little less than an hour, and should be recorded for those faculty who cannot attend. Normally the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education will end the interview with thanks on behalf of the university, or will delegate this task.


Historically the honorarium has been paid upon receipt of the report, typically three weeks after the visit.