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Curricular Goals

Curricular goals are broad, general statements of (1) what the department/program will do to provide students with desired knowledge and skills, and (2) what students will do so that they gain desired knowledge and skills. Curricular goals are not the same thing as the actual knowledge or skills; those are "learning outcomes" and are discussed elsewhere on this website.

Good curricular goals are based on clear verbs; a department/program will "guide" students or "offer" certain experiences, and students will "explore" certain ideas or "carry out" particular activities. More examples are provided below and on the goal examples page.

Goals are not directly demonstrable and are primarily useful at the department/program level, whereas learning outcomes are useful at the course level as well as the department/program level.

Curricular goals are important for assessment because they indicate the department/program intentions from which learning outcomes should be developed, and learning outcomes are at the heart of assessment of student learning.

Department/Program Examples

In the below examples of department/program goals, notice that terms such as “mission,” “vision,” and “purpose” are used as well as “goal;” the examples are still examples of goals (rather than learning outcomes). Two words used in the example from Religion could also make good learning outcomes: “analyze” and “interpret.”


We offer an expansive outlook on human cultures, providing multiple opportunities for hands-on anthropological fieldwork, including field-based courses and lengthy field trips.

Art History

The primary goal of the concentration in art history is to introduce a wide variety of liberal arts students to the achievements of both western and eastern art and to develop their sensitivity to the visual environment. The study of art history incorporates intellectual, social, economic and political history, thus offering a vivid and tangible entrée to the history and achievements of human culture…Our program is structured to ensure that our majors have a general knowledge of art history and are capable of thoughtful analysis of the visual language of works of art.


Mission: To enhance our understanding of the chemical sciences and their connections to the modern world through teaching, research, and service. Vision: Students and Faculty join to advance lifelong learning, to stimulate intellectual and ethical growth, and to foster a climate of mutual respect among scientists and non-scientists…

Feminist and Gender Studies

Feminist and Gender Studies at Colorado College engages in a critical examination of theories about and attitudes toward women, sex, and gender both in Western and global cultural settings. The goal of Feminist and Gender Studies is to broaden our perspectives and consider the conditions for the creation of a more equitable society.


The purpose of the academic study of religion is to analyze and interpret religious beliefs and practices in their cultural contexts and historical development. The discipline of religious studies requires critical reflection on ideas about the nature of reality, ideal forms of human society, rituals of individual and societal identity, and sources of authority in personal and social morality.