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What Will They Learn?

UD Receives ‘A’ for Core Curriculum, Cultivating Engaged Citizens

ACTA Commends UD for Academic Programs


students on campusDate published: Sept. 26, 2019

The University of Dallas is one of only 22 institutions nationwide, and one of only four Catholic institutions, to receive an “A” grade from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) in its 2019–2020 What Will They Learn? report, an annual assessment of over 1,100 general education programs. 

 Unlike traditional ranking systems, What Will They Learn?® assesses the core academic requirements at 1,123 four-year institutions that together enroll more than 8 million undergraduate students. Grades are assigned based on whether colleges and universities require all students to take courses in seven priority subject areas as part of their general education programs. Those subjects, identified as critically important to a 21st century college education by ACTA’s Council of Scholars, are: composition, literature, (intermediate-level) foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and natural science.

These disciplines appear across UD’s nationally renowned Core curriculum. “In addition to the subjects noted here, the University of Dallas should be commended for its requirements in philosophy, theology, fine arts, and the history of Western civilization,” the guide states. 

"Our nearly 1,500 undergraduate students may choose among 33 majors, but all must take our 19-course Core curriculum,” said UD President Thomas Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83. “Our biology and business majors go through the Core just as our philosophy and theology majors do. The Core unifies our alumni no matter their chosen profession."

A rigorous and coherent core curriculum, focused on courses in the traditional arts and sciences, helps students to develop the capacity for critical analysis, oral and written communication skills, and intercultural fluency that employers increasingly demand. At ACTA’s “A” schools, the core also prepares students for informed and engaged citizenship and cultivates a passion for lifelong learning.

“Colleges and universities that receive an ‘A’ on our report have exhibited a tremendous commitment to liberal education,” said ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “Institutions across the nation have been scaling back or watering down their core curricula for decades. ACTA’s ‘A’ schools should be commended for pushing against the current. A rigorous and coherent core curriculum can transform students’ intellectual experience, opening them up to new modes of thinking that they would have never considered. American higher education desperately needs more ‘A’ schools.”

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