Chapter 2 – Step 2 in the Process

Action 6: Define Program Outcomes

Define program outcomes 

Program outcomes are sometimes considered aspirational or promotional statements, created to entice people into the program. This is not their purpose, although it can be a secondary benefit. Program outcomes determine what the program is about and what the design needs to enable a range of learners to achieve.


For effective use in design, these statements should follow a similar sentence structure to other learning outcomes.


Image of an equation illustrating an active verb plus context plus the level equals an end of program competency.


Examples of program outcome statements:

  • Perform common diagnostic tests for large animals common to Western Canada at the level of an entry-to-practice veterinarian.
  • Generate an argument that supports a thesis statement and is evidence-based and complete.
  • Explain the benefits and advise on the cautions associated with physical activity to a range of adult audiences accurately and using kinesiology concepts and principles.


Process Tips ✔

  • Emphasize how crucial this step is to your team.  If it takes more time to get it right, then spend more time.  GMCTL can assist.
  • Focus on what students should be able to do, not on content or topics that need to be covered.  That discussion comes later.
  • Draw on example language to inspire and inform your thinking:
    • USask undergraduate competencies as they are comprehensive and well-structured
    • Peer programs, or aspirational peer programs that have developed similar statements
    • Accreditation documents from your own or similar fields
    • Samples of job ads for early career professionals in the area
    • Data from interviews conducted with employers of new grads



Good Signs! 🏁

The program outcomes: 

⊕  Exist in a document that has had wide input and support

⊕  Would tell a student what they will become capable of at the end of the program

⊕  Would inspire faculty and stakeholders to think about what students could do to demonstrate their learning, and ways they could set up the learning experiences

⊕  Could be used effectively to map existing curriculum to assess current strengths and gaps (See Step 3, Action 8)


Warning Signs 🏴

Program outcomes are listed:

⊗  In areas where there are no faculty currently in-house with this expertise or with a willingness to develop it

⊗  That are the purview of another USask program

Faculty (a few, some, or many): 

⊗  Think of this step as wordsmithing and not consequential

⊗  Express concern that program outcomes as stated are at too high, or too low, a standard

⊗  Express concern that the program outcomes listed are too few, or too many

⊗  Express concern that the program outcomes are not achievable




Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Curriculum Design Guide Copyright © by Susan Bens; Sara Dzaman; Aditi Garg; and Wendy James is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book