Defining Goals and Objectives

Goals and objectives describe what the program/project is striving to accomplish. Goals depict the general programmatic outcomes, while objectives specify more specific outcomes. It is common to have several objectives for each program/project goal.

Goals and objectives can be differentiated in the following ways:

Effective goals:

Effective objectives:

  • are broad statements of meaningful outcomes
  • are clearly written
  • are achievable
  • provide a framework for writing statements of objectives
  • are adaptable to changes in the program
  • are consistent with the mission statement of the program and institution
  • use action words that specify definite, observable behaviors
  • indicate an appropriate level of attainment
  • are assessable through one or more indicators
  • comprehensively and meaningfully define a goal
  • are realistic and achievable
  • use simple language

Adapted from PACT Outcomes Assessment Handbook California State University, Bakersfield

Consider the perspectives of staff, students, and/or the funding source when determining a goal. For example:

  • Participants will persist by steady and supported progress to graduation.

For each goal, develop objectives that will help ascertain if the goal is being reached. These are observable outcomes expected of students. For example:

  • 90% of participants will maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  • 90% of participants will meet degree progress requirements.
  • 90% of participants will return for the second year.