External Review

Every proposal for a new master’s program must be accompanied by a written evaluation from a scholar at an institution outside of New York State.  The New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires universities and colleges to obtain its approval of potential reviewers before any of them are asked for evaluations.  To avoid delays in the registration of the new program, its sponsors should ask for the external evaluation while the proposal is still under review within the University.   

As part of the Proposal for New Program, the school includes 2-3 suggestions for the external reviewer, with information on their institution and scholarly field.  The proposed reviewers should be specialists in the area of the program but should not to have had an association with Columbia that would compromise the independence of their evaluations.   

The NYSED considers a conflict of interest to exist if a proposed reviewer:

  •     has had or applied for an appointment at the University or is related to someone who has;
  •     was consulted about the development of the proposed program; or
  •     has a professional relationship with someone at the University such as collaborating on externally funded research and publications.

The Vice Provost sends the NYSED the list of proposed reviewers.  Once the NYSED has authorized the University to obtain the external review, the originating unit may ask for evaluations from one of the experts on the list of those the NYSED has approved.

The external reviewer should be asked to use the form  NYSED External Review rather than sending a letter containing the evaluation.  The NYSED also requires that the reviewer sign the form.  Upon receiving the evaluation, the proposal sponsors prepare a response using the form Response to External Review and forward it to the Vice Provost with the reviewers’ report for inclusion in the materials that will be sent to the NYSED.