Curriculum Mapping FAQs

Curriculum maps are graphical illustrations of the relationship between an academic program’s courses and course learning outcomes and the overall program learning outcomes.

By outlining student learning outcomes and mapping them to the courses in which they are addressed, both students and faculty alike have a better idea of where learning is expected to take place, and where concepts are introduced and practiced. Mapping allows students to see the relevance of all of the required courses in a program, which can increase the likelihood of the students achieving program-level outcomes. The process improves communication about the curriculum among the faculty and encourages reflective practice.

Faculty must first outline the specific student learning outcomes for a program. These outcomes should articulate what students graduating with a major can do, have achieved and can reliably demonstrate at the end of a program. Outcomes state the evidence of what students have learned as a result of the program. 

Once program learning outcomes are identified, faculty link courses (and course learning outcomes) to program outcomes as illustrated below. 

 curriculum map

Yes. If electives are required as a part of a degree program, they should be mapped to the program student learning outcomes.

The mapping process is central to the curriculum design and review process, which also links to being able to assess the effectiveness of the program curricula. As revisions or additions are made to programs, the curriculum approval process will include a mechanism to clearly identify where the new or revised items fit in the program and to the student learning outcomes.  Curriculum maps help identify program strengths, program gaps and better assessment measures.

While the initial mapping process will be accomplished, the process serves as a baseline for ongoing curriculum review and assessment that should occur on an ongoing basis. After outcomes and checkpoints are identified, faculty should collect evidence on how well the students are doing, assess that evidence and determine if changes to the curriculum, teaching, or assessment need to take place to improve the teaching and learning process. For example, if a degree program reviews exit test data on its students and begins to see patterns of students not meeting the outcomes, courses may be strengthened or assignments might be added, etc. This process should be conducted (and documented) each year as a part of the curriculum oversight function by faculty.

Curriculum design is a part of faculty jobs/role as outlined in the Faculty Handbook. This is an ongoing process and is not considered to be a "special project" or "extra service."

Student learning outcomes should include an action word that identifies a performance to be demonstrated and a broad statement of the criterion or standard for acceptable performance. In general, if you can tell how the student will be assessed by reading an outcome statement, it is a well-written outcome.


  • Poorly stated outcome: Students will be able to understand the basics of psychology. (How would one know if a student “understands? What would the student understand? Should students know everything or things within a specific scope?)
  • Better outcome: Students should be able to recognize and articulate the foundational assumptions, central ideas, and dominant criticisms of the psychoanalytic, Gestalt, behaviorist, humanistic, and cognitive approaches to psychology ( (This one is better because the scope of the content is outlined and you can tell exactly how students will be assessed [recognition and articulation]).

Departments should select the outcomes to be assessed, review where they fit in the curriculum and design assessments that tie directly to the outcome. Once the curriculum maps are completed, the assessment plans should be simple to implement. Outcomes can be assessed as a part of a class assignment or as a part of a capstone or final project. Major field tests and exit exams may also be used if those align directly with the program outcomes.  The assessment data can help identify program strengths, program gaps and program weaknesses.