Learning Outcomes

Graduate Degree Learning Outcomes

On May 27, 2013, the University of Guelph Senate approved the following five University-wide Learning Outcomes as the basis from which to guide the development of graduate degree programs, specializations and courses:

  1. Critical and Creative Thinking
  2. Literacy
  3. Global Understanding
  4. Communication
  5. Professional and Ethical Behaviour

These learning outcomes are also intended to serve as a framework through which our educational expectations are clear to students and the broader public; and to inform the process of outcomes assessment through the quality assurance process (regular reviews) of programs and departments.

An online guide to the learning outcomes, links to the associated skills, and detailed rubrics designed to support the development and assessment of additional program and discipline-specific outcomes, are available for reference on the Learning Outcomes website.

Critical and Creative Thinking

Critical and creative thinking is a concept in which one applies logical principles, after much inquiry and analysis, to solve problems with a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking and risk taking. Those mastering this outcome show evidence of integrating knowledge and applying this knowledge across disciplinary boundaries. Depth and breadth of understanding of disciplines is essential to this outcome. At the graduate level, originality in the application of knowledge (master’s) and undertaking of research (doctoral) is expected.

In addition, Critical and Creative Thinking includes, but is not limited to, the following outcomes: Independent Inquiry and Analysis; Problem Solving; Creativity; and Depth and Breadth of Understanding.


Literacy is the ability to extract information from a variety of resources, assess the quality and validity of the material, and use it to discover new knowledge. The comfort in using quantitative literacy also exists in this definition, as does using technology effectively and developing visual literacy.

In addition, Literacy includes, but is not limited to, the following outcomes: Information Literacy, Quantitative Literacy, Technological Literacy, and Visual Literacy.

Global Understanding

Global understanding encompasses the knowledge of cultural similarities and differences, the context (historical, geographical, political and environmental) from which these arise, and how they are manifest in modern society. Global understanding is exercised as civic engagement, intercultural competence and the ability to understand an academic discipline outside of the domestic context.

In addition, Global Understanding includes, but is not limited to, the following outcomes: Global Understanding, Sense of Historical Development, Civic Knowledge and Engagement, and Intercultural Competence.


Communication is the ability to interact effectively with a variety of individuals and groups, and convey information successfully in a variety of formats including oral and written communication. Communication also comprises attentiveness and listening, as well as reading comprehension. It includes the ability to communicate and synthesize information, arguments, and analyses accurately and reliably.

In addition, Communication includes, but is not limited to, the following outcomes: Oral Communication, Written Communication, Reading Comprehension, and Integrative Communication.

Professional and Ethical Behaviour

Professional and ethical behaviour requires the ability to accomplish the tasks at hand with proficient skills in teamwork and leadership, while remembering ethical reasoning behind all decisions. The ability for organizational and time management skills is essential in bringing together all aspects of managing self and others. Academic integrity is central to mastery in this outcome. At the graduate level, intellectual independence is needed for professional and academic development and engagement.

In addition, Professional and Ethical Behaviour includes, but is not limited to, the following outcomes: Teamwork, Ethical Reasoning, Leadership, Personal Organization and Time Management, and Intellectual Independence.