The Associate Vice President for Institutional Research and Assessment oversees Southwestern’s comprehensive assessment program. The work of assessment includes evaluation at three key levels: institution-wide, degree program, and departmental assessment. Each degree program and department establishes a mission, goals, objectives and outcomes, and target achievements on an annual basis. Findings are evaluated at the end of each academic year and then action plans are developed for the subsequent year for areas of needed improvement. Southwestern also assesses its performance on an institution-wide level through the strategic planning process conducted by the president’s cabinet.
Southwestern assesses both the time to completion and the placement of graduates on an annual basis. During the 2011-2012 school year 61% of MDiv graduates completed the degree in less than five years and 55% of all other master's graduates completed their programs in less than four years. Graduates from the 2010-2011 school year reported in fall 2012 that they had found placement as follows: 58% had secured a vocational ministry position, 16% were pursuing another degree, 8% did not intend to seek a ministry position, and 5% had been seeking but not yet found a vocational ministry position (13% did not fit one of these categories).
Southwestern developed the above comprehensive assessment program in the three years prior to its most recent 10-year accreditation review with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) which occurred in March 2011. The assessment program is now a fixture of Southwestern’s institutional life and will continue to aid in the achievement of its mission. ATS reaffirmed Southwestern’s accreditation in the summer of 2011 and SACS in winter 2011.