Campuswide and Department Learning Goals

Holy Cross seeks to prepare students for a lifetime of learning and moral citizenship. They must therefore develop skills, acquire knowledge, and cultivate intellectual and moral habits that prepare them to live meaningful, purposeful lives and to assume informed, responsible roles in their families, communities, and the world. 

Accordingly, we intend that our students:

1. Develop those basic skills and competencies foundational to a liberal arts education. These include the ability to think critically, write and speak clearly, read closely, evaluate and present evidence, and use information resources and technology.

2. Achieve depth competency in a major, as determined by individual departments, and attain a measure of intellectual breadth by exploring the various modes of inquiry and expression that comprise the liberal arts. These include those modes of inquiry and expression tied to the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and the natural and mathematical sciences.

3. Develop those habits of mind and life that exemplify the intellectual and moral values central to the distinctive mission and identity of Holy Cross as a Jesuit and Catholic liberal arts college. These include a commitment to the well-being of the human community and the natural world; the pursuit of a more just society; reflective engagement with matters of moral, spiritual, and religious life; and, for those who choose, an appreciation of the intellectual heritage of Catholicism.

Holy Cross Mission and Identity

Holy Cross commits itself to the service of faith and the promotion of justice. To these ends, our community espouses these goals:

Goal 1: Holy Cross educates the whole person in an environment that inculcates intellectual, physical, spiritual, moral, and vocational development.

Goal 2: Holy Cross fosters the individual’s relationship with God.

Goal 3: Holy Cross promotes the formation of an active worshipping community and engagement in the life and work of the Catholic Church.

Goal 4: Holy Cross cultivates the integration of faith and the intellectual life.

Goal 5: Holy Cross educates members of the College community about the history, mission, and identity of Jesuit education.

Goal 6: Holy Cross challenges members of the College community to assume responsibility for the world in which they live through a well-educated solidarity.

In addition to the goals that address the development of the individual within the community, Holy Cross aspires to an institutional goal that affects our communal life.

Goal 7
Holy Cross grounds its institutional policies, practices and relationships in Catholic social teaching.

Campuswide Writing Goals

Collegewide Writing Goals (PDF)

Academic Department Learning Goals


 Curricular Goals in Anthropology: Students studying anthropology should become familiar with cultural diversity worldwide and in the United States. They will be challenged and equipped to understand:
1. their own worldviews in critical perspective
2. the historical and social bases of inequality and oppression, and the way each is changing in an increasingly globalized world
3. how anthropology provides the ethnographic and analytical tools that allow students to question the claims of “cultural universals”
4. the social construction of race, class, gender, age, and sexuality, seen cross-culturally
5. major debates about the concept of “culture” in anthropology

The curriculum in anthropology enables majors:
1. to appreciate the varied theoretical traditions in sociocultural anthropology
2. o understand and apply anthropological methods of social research

Art History

Goal 1: Students will develop knowledge of visual cultures and contexts.
Goal 2: Students will demonstrate competencies in research, analysis, and writing.
Goal 3:  Students will cultivate responsible citizenship and engage with the community.

Asian Studies

Goal 1: Value the historical and cultural traditions of Asia.
Goal 2: Recognize the intersections and disjunctions between and within cultures.
Goal 3: Appreciate the way that culture creates and shapes perceptions, meanings, and behaviors.
Goal 4: Analyze differences between and within Asian cultures in terms of social structure, philosophical, religious, or artistic forms.
Goal 5: Demonstrate their critical understanding of Asia through papers, performances, or presentations.
Goal 6: Cultivate a critical global perspective grounded in the study of Asia.
Goal 7: Understand connections between Asia and other parts of the world.
Goal 8: Recognize the tensions between identity and otherness, conformity and subversion, dominant and marginal discourses.
Goal 9: Reflect critically on their own cultural assumptions and worldviews.


Goal 1: To develop student knowledge and understanding of the major conceptual areas of biology and the diversity of living and extinct organisms. Major conceptual areas include biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, organism structure and function, ecology, evolution, systematics, and, where appropriate, geology.
Goal 2: To develop in students a suite of skills for achieving effective communication and evaluation of scientific information, and for conducting well-designed scientific investigations. Such skills include effective oral and written communication, ability to read and evaluate primary literature, ability to develop and evaluate scientific hypotheses, laboratory and field skills, and the ability to analyze, interpret and apply biological information.
Goal 3: To graduate majors who are well prepared for a wide range of jobs, graduate school programs and professional school curricula that require general training in biology. This preparation will result from a combination of the goals listed above together with mentoring and guidance by members of the Department.


Goal 1: To engage students in a curriculum grounded in the core principles of modern chemistry that develops creativity, quantitative reasoning and critical problem solving skills.
Goal 2: To develop in students the conceptual, practical and analytical skills essential for planning, executing and reporting successful independent and group research.
Goal 3: To maintain a strong research program that emphasizes student-faculty collaboration.
Goal 4: To motivate students to join a community of responsible scholars and prepare them for a future of intellectual, professional and civic leadership.


Goal 1: To train students to read Greek and Latin with proficiency.
Goal 2: To instill in students a critical understanding and appreciation of works of classical literature, both in the original and in translation, as well as a familiarity with modern scholarship on the literature.
Goal 3: To promote a detailed and accurate knowledge of the major events of Greek and Roman history.
Goal 4: To promote a detailed and accurate knowledge of the principal physical remains of Greece and Rome.
Goal 5: To train students to use effectively the methods and interpretive approaches of history, archaeology and literary studies.
Goal 6: To instill a lasting appreciation for the ongoing relevance of the classical tradition.

Computer Science

Goal 1: Our students will develop a foundational knowledge of computer science.
1. Understand and apply standard data structures and algorithms.
2. Become familiar with design and implementation issues of programming languages.
3. Acquire basic understanding of computer architecture and organization.
4. Develop a basic understanding of computational complexity.
5. Write stylistically sound programs with good documentation.
6. Understand the social and ethical implications of computing.

Goal 2: Reason well within computer science, and communicate effectively about computer science in both formal and informal settings.
1. Write stylistically sound programs with good documentation.
2. Design and implement an efficient solution to a problem specification.
3. Know the basic rules of logic, and demonstrate the ability to reason logically from a core set of assumptions.

Economics and Accounting

Goal 1: Graduating economics majors will demonstrate the ability to:
1. understand and apply market models
2. understand and apply key elements of economic decision-making
3. understand important institutions in the economy
4. collect, analyze and interpret economic information
5. use their economics training to pursue their vocations.

Goal 2: Graduating accounting majors will demonstrate the ability to:
1. understand and apply accounting concepts and theories     
2. understand and apply the economic concepts and quantitative tools used by accountants in decision-making
3. communicate effectively about accounting issues and problems
4. identify and use information resources and technology to answer questions effectively
5. use their accounting training to pursue their vocations.


Goal 1: English majors learn to read and listen closely, deeply, and critically in order to understand how language gives form to feeling and makes meaning in the world.
Goal 2: They learn how to communicate thoughtfully and powerfully in a variety of forms, such as digital writing, essay, poetry, speech, and story.
Goal 3: They cultivate intellectual curiosity and celebrate original thinking; they value the process of connecting individual insights to broader conversations.
Goal 4: They discover the many ways that language — story, speech, poetry, drama — shapes reality, and they endeavor to use their linguistic skill to effect needed change.
Goal 5: They engage ethically in cultural dialogue on difficult subjects––with a text, in classroom discussions, and among diverse communities of readers, both at the College and beyond. They learn to understand the practice of empathy and the limitations of our own capacities for understanding the lives of others.

Environmental Studies

Goal 1: Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of current and historical environmental problems, and the role social justice has played in our understanding of and response to these problems.
Goal 2: Demonstrate an understanding of the physical, chemical, and/or biological principles that govern natural process and of the integrity of the scientific process.
Goal 3: Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts from the social sciences and humanities underlying environmental thought, cultural response, and governance.
Goal 4: Demonstrate an ability to identify different disciplinary approaches and utilize and connect ideas across disciplines.
Goal 5: Demonstrate awareness of competing values and arguments in environmental discourse.
Goal 6: Demonstrate competency with quantitative material.
Goal 7: Be able to identify and utilize various rhetorical strategies and communicate effectively in writing and through oral presentations to academic and lay audiences.
Goal 8: Effectively identify and solve complex problems in a collaborative setting.


Goal 1. Content: Students will gain knowledge of particular histories and a comparative perspective on the diversity of human experience across time, geography, and cultures.
Goal 2. Interpretive Framework: Students will gain knowledge of interpretive frameworks of historical studies and of the significant schools of historical thought.
Goal 3. Application: Students’ understanding of past societies will be rich and ethically informed (i.e., to exceed the shallow knowledge common to presentist interpretations and popular culture).
Goal 4. Skills: Students will acquire discipline-specific skills in the areas of analytical thinking, research, and written and oral presentation.


Goal 1: Develop a foundational knowledge of mathematics.
1. Acquire basic competency in single and multivariable calculus.
2. Demonstrate knowledge of the foundations of analysis and algebra.

Goal 2: Develop breadth and depth of knowledge of their discipline.
1. Demonstrate knowledge at an advanced level in at least one core area of mathematics.
2. Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental questions and techniques of several core areas of mathematics.
3. Demonstrate awareness of the history of mathematics.
4. Demonstrate awareness of connections between mathematics and other disciplines.

Goal 3: Reason well within mathematics, and communicate effectively about mathematics in both formal and informal settings.
1. Demonstrate the ability to reason logically from a core set of assumptions.
2. Understand, construct and write mathematical proofs.
3. Demonstrate oral communication skills (informal and formal).
4. Demonstrate written communication skills (informal and formal).
5. Make effective use of technology in presenting mathematical material.

Goal 4: Integrate and synthesize previously acquired knowledge in new situations and abstract frameworks.
1. Apply mathematical concepts and techniques.
2. Apply foundational techniques to advanced topics.
3. Demonstrate high-level problem solving skills.

Goal 5: Work effectively both independently and in collaboration with peers.
1. Develop persistence and self-reliance in learning within mathematics, including active reading skills and appropriate experimentation.
2. Understand and follow principles of academic honesty.
3. Complete a significant collaborative project.
4. Make effective use of technology.

World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Goal 1: Communicate effectively in languages other than English
1. Demonstrate expressive and receptive proficiency in the target language in oral/signed and written modalities, as appropriate.
2. Communicate within a variety of contexts and disciplines, recognizing that learning a language goes beyond mastering structures and vocabulary.
3. Use language in a culturally appropriate manner.

Goal 2: Understand and value the linguistic, aesthetic, literary, and intellectual traditions of other cultures
1. Appreciate the way that language creates and shapes meaning.
2. Analyze texts, focusing on their form, genre and style.
3. Situate texts within their historical and sociocultural context.
4. Interpret texts using a variety of critical and theoretical approaches.
5. Produce critical or creative analyses of aesthetic forms.

Goal 3: Cultivate a critical global perspective through interaction in local communities and the globalized world.
1. Perceive the diversity of perspectives within and across national and linguistic communities.
2. Recognize the tensions between identity and otherness, conformity and subversion, dominant and marginal discourses.
3. Reflect critically on their own cultural assumptions and world view.

Goal 4: Reflect on the differences and similarities between other cultures and our own
1. Recognize differences and similarities in the structures and functions that are used to communicate in various languages.
2. Understand the historical and geographical conditions that shape different cultural perspectives.
3. Perceive differences in the literary and aesthetic traditions of other cultures and our own.

Goal 5: Connect with other disciplines in and out of the classroom
1. Build and reinforce and expand knowledge of the language and culture through coursework in a variety of disciplines.
2. Expand knowledge through active engagement in a variety of cocurricular and extracurricular contexts.


Goal 1: Expertise in the structural properties of music.
Goal 2: Knowledge of a variety of musical styles and the ability to place these styles within their appropriate historical and cultural context(s).
Goal 3: Performance skills appropriate to the Bachelor of Arts.
Goal 4: Ability to think, speak, and write clearly and effectively about music and related topics.
Goal 5: Capacity and desire to reflect critically on cultural similarities and differences.
Goal 6: Preparedness for graduate study and/or careers in music (whether musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, composition, performance, education, music technology, and related fields).


Goal 1: Students will learn about the major traditions and modes of philosophical inquiry.
Goal 2: Students will gain analytic and interpretive skills for critically engaging with philosophical arguments and positions.
Goal 3: Students ideally should recognize that philosophical reflection goes beyond the classroom and is relevant to their lives.


Goal 1: Students will have a solid foundation in physics theory and its applications.
Goal 2: Students will acquire skills in experimental physics.
Goal 3: Students will understand and be able to apply advanced mathematical methods.
Goal 4: Students will have the ability to communicate scientific ideas and results.
Goal 5: Students will recognize the impact of physics in the world and will be aware of the responsibilities of scientists.

Political Science

Goal 1: Provide our majors with substantive knowledge in political science. This includes understanding of political institutions, actors, and processes in the United States, other countries, and at the international level, as well as major political theories and enduring philosophical debates.
Goal 2: Provide our majors with the analytical skills to read discerningly, evaluate evidence, critically assess competing perspectives, and develop reasoned arguments of their own.
Goal 3: Cultivate effective skills of communication and collaboration.
Goal 4: Help prepare our majors for success in post-graduate study and in a wide range of careers.
Goal 5: Develop our majors' capacity for informed and thoughtful civic engagement.


Goal 1: To acquire comprehensive knowledge of psychology that reflects the discipline’s breadth of perspectives and approaches.
Goal 2: To develop the skills necessary for the critical evaluation and effective communication of evidence that informs claims about psychological phenomena.
Goal 3: To develop an awareness of how psychological knowledge is related to broader social and cultural contexts.

Religious Studies

Goal 1. Knowledge: Religious Studies majors will be familiar with the sacred writings, beliefs, moral teachings, and rituals of Christianity and at least one other major world religion, and they will learn the key methodologies, approaches, and research techniques used to study religions.
Goal 2. Intellectual Competencies: Religious Studies majors will be able to reason, write, and speak effectively and to read and analyze primary and secondary sources critically.
Goal 3. Values: Religious Studies majors will be able fairly to articulate the diverse ways in which people define themselves, their communities, and the world in relationship to the divine and so will be able to evaluate and interpret the theologies, practices, ethics and social structures of their own faith tradition against a global backdrop.


Curricular Goals in Sociology: Students studying sociology will learn to analyze social relationships and institutions in society, with particular attention to cultural diversity and social bases of inequality.
They will be equipped to understand:
1. the process and structure of human interaction—from two-person encounters to groups, organizations, institutions, and societies as wholes
2. issues of stratification and inequality
3. that socially structured categories and experiences of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and religion vary across time and space with significant impacts on the lives of individuals

The curriculum in sociology enables majors:
1. to understand the varied theoretical traditions in sociology
2. to understand qualitative and quantitative research methods and apply them to sociological studies


Goal 1: Communicate effectively in Spanish.
1. Demonstrate written proficiency in Spanish.
2. Demonstrate oral proficiency in Spanish.
3. Use the language in a culturally appropriate manner.

Goal 2: Appreciate the structural, symbolic and rhetorical dimensions of human expression.
1. Discuss the contrast between prescriptive and descriptive approaches to language.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of language as a rule-governed system encompassing different components (morphology, syntax, phonetics/phonology, etc.).
3. Recognize the intersections and disjunctions between languages, particularly between English and Spanish.
4. Appreciate the way that language creates and shapes meaning.

Goal 3: Value the aesthetic, literary, and intellectual traditions of Spanish-speaking communities.
1. Read critically and analyze texts, focusing on their form, genre and/or style.
2. Situate texts within their historical and sociocultural context.
3. Demonstrate knowledge of relevant themes, periods, authors and genres in the literature of Spanish-speaking communities.
4. Write effective essays on literature, culture, film and/or language, using appropriate research and learning tools.

In addition, some majors who take appropriate courses will also be able to:
1. Interpret texts using a variety of critical and theoretical approaches.
2. Produce critical or creative analyses of aesthetic forms.

Goal 4: Cultivate a critical global perspective.
1. Perceive the diversity of perspectives within Spanish-speaking communities, including those in the US.
2. Recognize the tensions between identity and otherness, conformity and subversion, dominant and marginal discourses in the Hispanic world.
3. Reflect critically on their own cultural assumptions and world views.

Theatre and Dance

Goal 1: To train our students to think artistically, critically and analytically.
Goal 2: To engage students in all aspects of the production process.
Goal 3: To use theatrical productions as a means to fuse broad cultural, historical, philosophical, social, and artistic investigations.
Goal 4: To prepare students for advanced study (both in theatre and the wider liberal arts).
Goal 5: To create an environment that is non-competitive and nurturing, in which the students can support each other’s work, and where faculty and students reciprocate creatively in ongoing interactions.
Goal 6: To celebrate and encourage diversity, equity and inclusion in student participation, artistic output, and curriculum.
Goal 7: To create a lifelong love for and devotion to the theatre in both majors and non-majors, enlivening American theatre by preparing our students to be an informed, discerning, and appreciative audience.
Goal 8: To introduce students to non-western theatre, specifically Asian performance traditions.
Goal 9: To fuse dance and movement into actor training.
Goal 10: Students need to demonstrably achieve the following specific learning

1. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of dramatic literature and theatre


1. Illustrate close reading and analytical writing skills for written texts and performances.
2. Demonstrate basic voice and movement skills and the integration of voice and movement with text.
3. Master the rudiments of Shakespearean verse (performance students).
4. Master the rudiments of a specific dance style (performance students).
5. Study, participate in, and/or attend non-western performance.
6. Demonstrate an understanding of the technical and production elements of the theatrical process
7. Master the rudiments of a specific technical or design area (design/tech students).

Visual Arts

Goal 1. Knowledge: Students will develop a critical understanding of significant works of art and architecture in a global context.
Goal 2. Research/Creative Work: Students will demonstrate that they can participate in a discourse of a community of scholars, engaging in dialogue according to the norms and standards of scholarship and/or studio practice.
Goal 3. Communication: Students will articulate ideas through words and works of art.
Goal 4. Community and Environment: Students will explore and participate in the artistic communities of Holy Cross, Worcester and beyond.
Goal 5. Life Skills: Students will see connections among cultural, academic, and life experiences.

Academic Program Learning Goals

J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World 

Goal 1: Interpersonal Skills
Students engage in diverse experiences that require them to learn how to understand the perspectives of and communicate ideas to others in professional situations.
Goal 2: Developing Vocational Identity
Through reflection and observation, students develop a sense of vocation, including the capacity to navigate the written and unwritten rules that shape behavior in the world. Students develop a sense of who they are, what they are called to do, and how they identify meaning in the world.
Goal 3: Integrative Experience
Students strengthen their capacity to place their experiences into the context of their broader college trajectory (including their choice of major and/or concentration), the Jesuit mission of the College, the liberal arts education of the College, their home and work experience, other experiential learning opportunities in which they engage, and broader contexts including social, natural, cultural, economic, and civic environments.

Montserrat First-Year Program

Goal 1: Develop students’ foundational skills, including critical reading, writing, speaking, analysis, and other discipline-appropriate skills.
Goal 2: Cultivate students’ critical intellectual dispositions, habits of inquiry, and openness towards interdisciplinary learning through thematic clusters that highlight how different disciplines connect and contribute to common themes and questions.
Goal 3: Create an intellectual and social community that extends beyond the classroom into other aspects of students’ lives.
Goal 4: Provide opportunities for students to reflect critically on their own views and self-understanding and to begin to articulate their sense of what constitutes a life of meaning and value.
Goal 5: Promote mentoring relationships between students and faculty/staff.
Goal 6: Foster cross-departmental collaboration among faculty in order build intellectual and pedagogical community across disciplines and beyond the classroom, as well as to model interdisciplinary openness to students.
Goal 7: Enhance interaction among different College programs and offices, including the libraries, the College Chaplains, and Student Affairs.

Montserrat First-Year Writing Goals
Montserrat seminars provide sustained opportunities for students to develop both their intellectual approach to and execution of writing. Montserrat faculty members seek to cultivate in students a vital shift in their ways of learning, one that reflects the values of a liberal arts education. Through academic writing, students are encouraged to become thoughtful and analytical producers of knowledge, not just consumers and reproducers of information.

By the end of the first year, all Holy Cross students should develop the ability to:

1. Realize that writing is a means of communication and a reflective process that requires critical thinking and planning, and that evolves through regular reconsideration of different kinds of evidence (texts, data, objects, etc.) and refinement of claims and assumptions through careful revision
2. Understand that attentive and critical reading and observation is fundamental to good writing
3. Formulate (and revisit as necessary) a central problem, idea, or question worthy of consideration
4. Identify, evaluate, and analyze primary and secondary sources to develop a thoughtful response to a central problem, idea, or question
5. Produce analytic arguments that reflect independent thinking and appropriate modes of inquiry, are supported by relevant evidence, and are presented in a logical and coherent manner
6. Identify an audience and write with clarity, precision, and in a style that communicates effectively and persuasively to that audience
7. Develop control over mechanical features, such as syntax, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and proper citation of sources
8. Understand the rules of academic honesty in writing and why they are important to follow
9. Recognize that resources are available on campus to support student writing

Summer Research Program 

Goal 1: Develop students’ understanding of the value of scholarship and the importance of situating a research agenda in a larger context.
Goal 2: Advance students’ understanding of the scholarly and/or creative process and scholarly integrity.
Goal 3: Foster students’ appreciation for what it means to be part of a dynamic and diverse scholarly community, both on campus and beyond.
Goal 4: Strengthen students’ ability to communicate scholarly knowledge and engage effectively with different audiences
Goal 5: Enhance students’ capacity for integrative thinking across courses and disciplines, over time, and over different dimensions of their educational experience.  
Goal 6: Improve student’s ability to think creatively when generating questions and engaging in inquiry, analysis and problem solving
Goal 7: Prepare students for advanced study and vocational discernment.
Goal 8: Inspire continued intellectual accomplishment and future projects.
Goal 9: Cultivate mutually beneficial scholarly collaboration between faculty and students.