Degree Program Mission Statements

Degree Program Mission Statements contain the cumulative goals, purposes and values of your department, including your unique focus on student learning, as well as your program’s other characteristics, such as learning opportunities and experiences, service, pedagogical values, research areas, and other major contributions made by your department to your students, the university, and the community.

Purpose of a Mission Statement

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Understanding and articulating your program’s overall goals, purpose, and values accomplishes a number of things for your degree program.  First, it synthesizes the many unique talents and goals of your faculty and aligns them into a single, common purpose.  The identification of a common purpose assists faculty in making decisions concerning program and course level learning outcomes.  In addition, it guides and focuses your program’s decision processes concerning important assessment questions and directions needing investigation, based on your program’s larger direction, values, and goals.

UAC Criteria

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 An effective mission clearly and succinctly describes how the program will contribute to the development and future activities (careers, graduate school, life-long learning, etc.) of students (majors and non-majors).

A distinguished mission accomplishes the above AND clearly and succinctly describes the program's characteristics, such as unique learning opportunities, experiences, service provided to the community, pedagogical values, etc.

An Example of a Distinguished Mission Statement

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 The mission of the Northern Arizona University Social Work Program, grounded in the history, purpose, and values of the profession, is to educate competent, generalist social workers for practice with diverse populations and multi-level social systems in local, regional and global contexts. The generalist practice for which we educate is based on social work knowledge, values, and skills; geared to practice with rural and Indigenous populations of the Southwest; and, focused on addressing poverty, structural racism, and oppression. This practice provides leadership in promoting human rights and social and economic justice, and service with vulnerable and underserved populations locally, regionally, and globally. 

Examples of Mission Statements with Explanations

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1. A mission statement clearly describes the program’s contribution to students, and the student population that is targeted to achieve these outcomes.

Sample mission that needs to be improved:  To create an environment that encourages excellence.

Sample mission that effectively describes the program’s contribution to students:  To prepare competent generalist social workers with the knowledge, values, and skills for engaging in individual, family, group, organization, and community planned change processes with diverse rural, vulnerable, disenfranchised, and underserved populations locally, regionally, and globally.

 

2. A mission statement clearly and succinctly describes the program’s characteristics (learning opportunities, experiences, service to the community, values, etc.)

 

Sample mission that needs to be improved:  To conduct research and provide service to the University.

Sample mission that is effective:  The generalist practice for which we educate is based on social work knowledge, values, and skills; geared to practice with rural and Indigenous populations of the Southwest; and, focused on addressing poverty, structural racism, and oppression. This practice provides leadership in promoting human rights and social and economic justice, and service with vulnerable and under-served populations locally, regionally, and globally.

 

Revising and Developing Degree Program Mission Statement

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Step 1.  If your department is small, bring your faculty together for a meeting; if it is large, convene a small group of faculty to work through the following questions:

1. Identifying the student population(s) at the University influenced by your program.  What are your academic program’s educational purposes?  Serving Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students, other degree programs, Liberal Studies (AHI, CU, SPW, SAS), U.S., Ethnic, or Global Diversity, etc.? 

2. Identifying and describing your program’s broad contribution to students at the University

2.a. What is your program providing to students to meet this purpose?

2.b. For what careers and future study does your degree program prepare students?

  • Student perspective: “Because of my participation in this program/ with this service, I feel… or I am prepared to…”
  • Employer/ Graduate Program Faculty Perspectives: What do you want those who interact with your students to say about them after they have been through your program?

3. Identifying and describing your program’s many contributions

3.a. What are the signature approaches to learning demonstrated by some or all of your faculty (such as learning opportunities and experiences, learning communities, service learning, internships, co-curricular activities, problem-based learning, field experiences, etc.)?

3.b. What primary research areas do the program’s faculty members engage in, particularly those incorporating undergraduate and graduate student learning?

3.c. What services or impacts does your program have locally, nationally, and globally in your program’s approach to the discipline, opportunities provided your student, faculty, and staff, etc.? 

Step 2. Compile and share these across the degree program (if desired, use a facilitator), discussing the connection of each and its importance to the degree program.  Make revisions based on the feedback received.

Step 3. Now that the primary goals of the degree program have been identified, consider using the following Mission Statement Template to construct the responses into a Mission Statement:

The mission of [  insert the name of your program here   ]  is to [insert your response from question 1 above] by providing students  [insert your response from question 2.a. above here]  in order to  [insert the other portion of your response to question 2.b. here].  As well, our degree program  [insert responses, as appropriate, from question 3].