External Reviews

Please note the following important change in procedure concerning external reviews of program proposals:

The Department’s approval of external reviewers for most proposals is no longer required prior to the reviews being conducted. (See exceptions below.) Institutions are responsible for securing qualified external reviewers who do not have a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. Please review the following important information about the external review process.

Which applications require external review?

  • Applications that require master plan amendment
  • Applications for registration of new graduate-level general academic degree programs (does not qualify individuals for professional licensure or educator certification)
  • Applications for registration of programs in new or emerging fields
  • Applications for registration of new graduate-level teacher, educational leader, or pupil personnel services programs that lead to an area of certification that is new for the institution
  • Other applications for which the Department determines an external review is necessary in order to make a registration decision
  • Applicants seeking authorization for initial degree authority: the Department will identify the need for external review(s) after its initial assessment of the applying entity's application for degree authority.

As noted above, prior approval by the Department of external reviewers is no longer required, with the following exceptions:

  • Proposed Doctoral Programs: doctoral program reviewers must have experiences specific to doctoral faculty, including administrative and scholarly credentials. As a result, the Department will continue to require preapproval of doctoral program reviewers.
  • Professional Licensure Programs: for more information about the external review process for programs that prepare individuals for a professional license, contact the Professional Education Program Review unit of the Office of the Professions.


Note:  If you are unsure if the application you are planning to submit requires an external review, please contact the appropriate office prior to submitting the application.

Who qualifies as an appropriate external reviewer?

It is expected that the proposed external reviewer is a recognized expert in the field of the proposed program, as demonstrated by appropriate educational credentials, professional experience and academic teaching and/or administrative experience in similar programs.  The proposed reviewer must not have a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest with the institution or program under review.


When is there a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest?

There is a conflict of interest/appearance of a conflict of interest when the potential reviewer:

  • is a present or former employee, student, member of the governing board, owner or shareholder of, or consultant to the institution that is seeking approval for the proposed program or for new degree authority, including those persons who may have consulted on, or helped to develop, the application;
  • is a spouse, parent, child, or sibling of any of the individuals listed above;
  • is seeking or being sought for employment or other relationship with the institution submitting the application;
  • has now, or has had in the past,  a relationship with the institution submitting the application that might compromise objectivity;


Note:  If the Department finds that the external reviewer chosen by the institution has a conflict of interest, it will terminate the review of the application and notify the institution that the application is incomplete and will be closed. 


What documents are required to be submitted to the Department as part of an external review?

  1. The applicable external review form (for programs below the doctoral level):
  1. The institution’s response to the external review evaluation report
  2. A brief rationale for the selection of the external reviewer
  3. The external reviewers’ resume/CV
  4. A conflict of interest statement signed by the external reviewer


How do I submit the external review documents?

All of the documents listed above should be scanned and submitted to the Department with the application for registration of a new academic program or the application for new degree authority.  See the applicable registration application form for submission instructions.

SUNY and CUNY institutions: contact System Administration for information about the proposal submission process.