Students & Parents | Core Curriculum

University Of Dallas In Irving Receives Highest Grade For Core Curriculum And Cultivating Passion For Lifelong Learning

IRVING WEEKLY   |  February 15, 2022 by Irving Weekly Staff

The University of Dallas is one of only 24 institutions nationwide, and one of only five Catholic institutions, to receive an “A” grade from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) in its 2021–22 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 over 1,130 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. UD has received an “A” grade every year since ACTA began the annual report in 2009.

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.

“It is a hallmark of our university that all our undergraduates share the same pathway through a robust and integrated Core Curriculum,” said UD President Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D. “The core is not meant only to make its mark on the first two years of education; rather, it forms the foundation for the entirety of one’s education understood as a lifelong pursuit.”

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.

“At its best, general education is about the unity of knowledge, not about distributed knowledge,” said former Harvard Dean Harry Lewis in his introduction to “Not about spreading courses around, but about making connections between different ideas. Not about the freedom to combine random ingredients, but about joining an ancient lineage of the learned and wise. And it has a goal, too: producing an enlightened, self-reliant citizenry, pluralistic and diverse but united by democratic values.”

Such common values inherently shape all disciplines at UD. “Because all undergraduates at UD take our Core, all our students have common reference points for the great works and deeds of Western civilization, which facilitates a campus culture of animated discussion and shared learning. In addition, the Core courses build off of each other, challenging students to think more deeply about the subjects they are studying,” said Constantin College of Liberal Arts Dean Phillip Harold, Ph.D.

About the University of Dallas

Located in one of the largest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas of the U.S., the University of Dallas is a nationally recognized Catholic liberal arts university with campuses in Irving, Texas, and Rome, Italy. Known for the academic rigor of its undergraduate Core curriculum, rooted in the great works of Western civilization and Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of Dallas also offers flexible graduate degrees in business, liberal arts, and ministry, all taught by exceptional faculty who are dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue. For more information, visit

This article originally appeared here.


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