George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning

Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning

Data-driven decision making builds student success.

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning (OIEP) provides information and analyses for data-driven decision-making, oversight to ensure the integrity of institutional data, and guidance and support for administrative and student learning outcomes assessment. OIEP is responsive to the needs of institutional and external stakeholders by providing timely, accurate and accessible information and support.

OIEP is the primary source of official data for state, federal and other external agencies about George Mason University’s:

OIEP is responsible for disseminating institutional data to internal and external constituents, including accreditors, state and local government, and national higher education data projects.


The information and services provided by OIEP are intended to ensure consistent and coherent measurement of the university’s effectiveness and achievements.

Some key publications include:

OIEP further supports Mason’s mission and goals by ensuring continuous and systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of all academic and administrative units. This is accomplished primarily through the Academic Program Review process and annual assessment reporting in the Tk20 assessment management system.

OIRA also conducts survey research pertaining to student experiences and educational outcomes.

Questions? Contact Karen Manley, Administrative and Communications Coordinator, at 703-993-8834.

One of our primary goals at Mason is to ensure our students are learning in a way that allows them to demonstrate their knowledge and capabilities when they complete their degrees. Assessing and reviewing our academic programs help us meet that objective.

The university demands that our programs meet the highest criteria and educational standards, and clearly defines our expectations, setting parameters to measure how well we're meeting them. Mason constantly seeks ways to strengthen our programs and deliver a better learning experience. One of the ways we do this is through an assessment process.

The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (IRA) works with department heads to support candid, reflective, systematic, and ongoing assessment practices. IRA relies on them to know of and communicate assessment initiatives and expectations to faculty members. Department heads, the primary source of information about their programs, provide guidance on:

The university shares the results of these reviews with internal and external audiences, and that knowledge allows us to continually improve our programs, make smart decisions, and qualify for accreditation in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC).

All academic and administrative units participate in ongoing outcome assessment and reporting. Graduate and undergraduate degree programs, regardless of APR or external accreditation schedule, must:

  • Identify student learning outcomes.
  • Develop measures to assess learning.
  • Conduct the assessment.
  • Report results on an annual cycle.

Academic Program Review

The multi-year APR process requires units to identify the mission, goals, and learning outcomes of degree programs. They use a variety of data sources to measure whether departments are meeting goals and achieving the outcomes they seek. The results form the basis of an action plan to improve student learning.

Throughout the process, units are encouraged to routinely discuss the program's educational goals, learning outcomes, and curriculum map, which helps the department head prepare faculty for the program review.

Departments submit an APR report every seven years for review by peers, representatives from the Office of the Provost, and IRA.

Core Assessment

The Mason Core, a collection of common courses that all undergraduates must take, makes up a significant part of our students' education. We assess our ability to convey this knowledge to find out how well students are learning, and measure the likelihood that they'll excel in advanced courses.

What we learn improves undergraduate teaching and learning, while also meeting requirements for learning outcomes assessment for SACSOC accreditation and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Student and Alumni Surveys

Mason conducts regular surveys on the student experience in majors, in schools and colleges, and at the university. Department heads contribute to the content of locally developed assessment surveys, encourage student participation, and study the results, which can affect program development and decisions.

Assessment of University Initiatives

Department heads support assessment efforts for university and college educational initiatives as applicable (for example, the Students as Scholars program, writing-intensive courses, etc.). They also work with IRA to create assessment plans and tools to meet specific needs and concerns.

For Comprehensive Reporting, Procedures and Best Practices

Consult the resources on the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment home page. 

Go to IRA