The Office of Institutional Assessment oversees Southern’s institutional research and effectiveness programs. Educational effectiveness reflects the strength and integrity of educational programs. Academic programs and administrative units establish learning outcomes / objectives, identify appropriate measures, and set achievement targets. Student and unit performance are assessed annually and the findings are used to improve programs and service offerings. Southern also evaluates its institution-wide performance through ongoing strategic planning processes led by the Office of the President.

Southern assesses time-to-completion for its undergraduate and graduate programs annually as one mark of its educational effectiveness. For 2013–2014, 71% of undergraduate completers finished their program in less than five years. Among master’s students, 63% of Master of Divinity students completed their program in under five years while 65% of students in all other master’s programs completed their degrees in less than five years. Within the area of doctoral studies, 74% of professional doctoral students completed their program within five years while 69% of research doctoral students earned their degree within five years.

In its graduate programs, Southern also considers student placement as an indicator of effectiveness. Among self-reporting completers from the 2012–2013 academic year, 56% of graduates had found or were not seeking placement; 10% were pursuing another degree; and 33% were seeking placement.