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Washington State University Graduate School

Program Assessment

WSU Executive Policy on Program Assessment

The WSU Executive Policy on the Assessment of Student Learning in Degree Programs governs the system for regularly assessing the quality of graduate and professional degree programs offered by the university. This system is intended to provide information that can guide program improvement and meet Washington Student Achievement Council (formerly the Higher Education Coordinating Board) criteria for assessment of educational outcomes in public institutions of higher education in the State of Washington and Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities accreditation standards.

Guidelines for Graduate and Professional Program Assessment

The assessment of student learning outcomes is intended to be a regular, ongoing, iterative process that evaluates each degree program’s quality and effectiveness, stimulates program planning and improvement, and encourages graduate and professional programs to develop and grow in areas that reflect the university’s strategic priorities and initiatives.

All graduate programs are required to have an assessment plan with well-defined student learning outcomes. The Graduate School has published a list of graduate student learning outcomes on this website. Faculty associated with each degree program are responsible for assessing student learning and are expected to demonstrate continuous improvements at the program-level that meet the needs and career goals of students who are enrolled in the program. To be effective, graduate program assessment should be faculty-driven, include all students, campuses, and degree options, support department and college-level decision-making, and meet institutional and program requirements for accreditation. Graduate and professional programs are required to document their use of student learning evidence in regular assessment reports to the Graduate School and the Office of the Provost.

Graduate and Professional Program Assessment Goals and Progress 2013-2016

Targets for meaningful assessment: WSU strives to have substantially all (>90%) graduate and professional programs reporting that they have met the assessment goals noted below. In any given year, a small number of programs may experience a change in their program context, necessitating a change in basic assessment processes or tools, resulting in a lack of meaningful data collected for one or more of the goals noted below.


Percentage of graduate and professional programs that publish program-level or degree-level student learning outcomes on their websites and/or in their student handbooks.79%Data not collected78%87%
Percentage of graduate and professional programs that include in their assessment process, all students and locations where the degree is offered.82%Data not collected89%Data not collected
Percentage of online graduate programs that include online assessment activities in their assessment process.75%100%100%100%
Percentage of graduate and professional programs that include data collection as part of their process to assess student learning outcomes.96%Data not collected100%100%
Percentage of graduate degree programs using student learning assessment results in decision-making or planning.72%80%85%97%


Assessment Resources for WSU Faculty and Staff

The Graduate School offers the following resources to assist WSU faculty and staff in their program assessment and improvement practices:

  1. Graduate Program Assessment Plan Template – Assessment plan outline and example for graduate programs
  2. Student Learning Outcomes for PhD Programs – Examples of learning outcomes statements for new doctoral programs or programs that are revising their learning outcomes
  3. Assessment Resources – “How to” guides and external links on writing student learning outcomes, planning for assessment, creating and using rubrics, choosing data collection methods, discussing assessment results with faculty, and using assessment results for program improvement
  4. Graduate Assessment Highlights – Recent examples from describing faculty use of assessment evidence
  5. Assessment Terminology – Terms and definitions used in outcomes assessment
  6. Graduate School SharePoint site – Program reports, assessment plans, survey instruments, rubrics, and other assessment-related materials (WSU network log-in/departmental access required)

In addition, the Graduate School offers consultations, workshops, and training for faculty and staff. For more information or to schedule an assessment consultation, contact:

Scott Avery, MPA
Director of Graduate Assessment
Phone: 509-335-1574

Updated on 1/31/2017.