UCLA’s Academic Senate mandates the periodic review of academic programs for the purpose of maintaining and strengthening the quality of its curricula and instruction. A review normally takes two years to complete and involves a period of self review by the program in question, as well as a site visit by a team of campus and extramural scholars. In 2002-03 and 2009-2010, the administrative team of the Freshman Cluster Program, in collaboration with cluster faculty and members of the Center for Educational Assessment prepared Self-Review Reports for the Freshman Cluster Program from 1998-2003 and 2003-2011. (Download Complete Reports below).

The 2003-2011 report summarized data collected over an eight-year period and found that a diverse group of more than 11,291 UCLA freshmen have completed the cluster experience. Since the program’s inception, fifteen clusters have been offered and taught by 67 of UCLA’s most distinguished faculty members and 277 of the university’s most senior GSIs, drawn from all four of the College divisions and eight of UCLA’s eleven professional schools (Art and Architecture, Dentistry, Education & Information Studies, Engineering & Applied Sciences, Law, Medicine, Public Health, Public Policy & Social Research, and Theater, Film & Television). The report also noted that the available evidence indicates that the Freshman Cluster Program has become a vital part of the undergraduate experience at UCLA-valued by undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff.

 Self-Review Report of the Freshman Cluster Program 2003-2011

 Self-Review Report of the Freshman Cluster Program 1998-2003


The Academic Senate has conducted two site reviews of the Freshman Cluster Program, the first in 2003-04 and the second in February of 2012. Both of these reviews featured a team of internal and extramural scholars who met over the course of two days with Judith Smith, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the cluster program administrative team, cluster faculty and graduate student instructors, instructional support representatives from Powell Library, Writing Programs, the Office of Instructional Development, and the Office of Residential Life, department chairs, and current and former cluster students. The final reports of these review teams were presented to and endorsed by both the undergraduate and graduate councils.

These Senate review reports regarding the cluster program’s strengths and achievements, as well as recommendations for the further strengthening of its curricula and instruction, can be accessed by clicking on the following links:

 2003-04 Academic Senate Review of the General Education Freshman Cluster Program

 2011-12 Academic Senate Review of the General Education Freshman Cluster Program


During its 15-year history, over 10,000 students have participated in a total of 15 Freshman Cluster courses and experienced one of 493 capstone seminars, 40 percent of them taught by UCLA faculty and 60 percent by the program’s advance graduate student instructors. Surveys of cluster freshmen revealed that students found their cluster courses to be challenging and intellectually stimulating and that participation in them strengthened such foundational skills as writing and analytic reasoning. Furthermore, students credited their spring seminars with enabling them to further investigate course content and relate it back to what they had learned during the preceding two quarters. They also valued highly the sense of community they felt in the clusters, both with their fellow students and their instructors.

How do these students retrospectively view their cluster experience four years later, as college seniors? What impact do they feel their participation in this innovative general education program had on their transition to college? What elements of the cluster program do they feel had the most pronounced effects on their subsequent undergraduate careers? What can we learn from them to potentially enhance the cluster experiences of future freshman cohorts? This report summarizes the answers to these questions of 610 senior students who participated in the freshman cluster program during 2000-01 and 2001-02.

 Four Years Later: Reflections on Freshman Cluster Experiences