The Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) is a learning-centered framework for what college graduates should know and be able to do to earn an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Released in 2011, the DQP was updated in 2014 based on feedback from over 800 institutions. It is time again for an update and refresher to the DQP. NILOA is delighted to oversee a series of working groups who will provide guidance and suggestions for revising the DQP, culminating in a third iteration of the DQP to be released in 2021. Check back for updates on working group membership, reports, and the revised DQP 3.0!

DQP 1.0

DQP 2.0

Coming in 2021

DQP 3.0

Specialized Knowledge addresses what students in any specialization or major field of study should demonstrate with respect to that specialization. Tuning, a field-specific effort to map learning outcomes, is necessary to describe the concepts, knowledge areas and accomplishments that students in a particular specialization should demonstrate to earn the degree.

Broad and Integrative Knowledge asks students at all three degree levels to consolidate learning from different broad fields of study (e.g., the humanities, arts, sciences and social sciences) and to discover and explore concepts and questions that bridge these essential areas of learning.

Intellectual Skills includes both traditional and nontraditional cognitive skills: analytic inquiry, use of information resources, engaging diverse perspectives, ethical reasoning, quantitative fluency and communicative fluency. 

Applied and Collaborative Learning emphasizes what students can do with what they know.

Civic and Global Learning recognizes higher education’s responsibilities both to democracy and the global community.

DQP 3.0 Corner

Join us for the next few months where the co-authors of the DQP write their thoughts and considerations as we look to revise the DQP. In their respective blogs, they answer the following questions: (a) Are there ways in which the DQP might (should?) be updated to make it more relevant to the present?; (b) Should the DQP be reconfigured or reformatted to make it more appealing and accessible? Are there elements of the DQP that might be retired? Others that should be added?; and (c) Based on your experience, what advice would you have regarding the roll-out of the next iteration?

Blog No. 1 (June 2021)


Paul L. Gaston
Consultant to Lumina Foundation

The current edition of the Degree Qualifications Profile, released by Lumina Foundation in 2014, recognizes that effective degree programs must prepare graduates for employment. Indeed, the DQP is meant to “respond directly to employers’ concerns that graduates need better preparation for applying their learning to a wide array of problems and settings” (p. 50). In announcing the 2015 edition, Jamie Merisotis, president of Lumina, spoke of the importance of the path “from a degree to a career” (p. 2). Throughout, the DQP focuses on “sound preparedness for college, career, and life” (p. 9).

How might the next iteration of the DQP draw more attention to career preparedness as an essential degree-level objective? There are opportunities to do so in every one of its elements. It will be the work of the NILOA review panels to consider revisions, but as one of the DQP authors I can suggest a few possibilities. (Two other authors of the DQP, Carol Geary Schneider and Peter Ewell, will publish their respective blogs on other issues in the July and August issues of the newsletter.)

  • The summary of DQP “uses” (p. 8) could mention its value for aligning program requirements with employer expectations. Shortly after the release of the first (“beta”) edition of the DQP, the North Dakota State College of Science used it “to determine how well [its] AAS degree aligned with employer expectations.” As part of the process, “major employers of students were invited to . . . review the DQP and provide feedback” (p. 36). (It was positive.)
  • The overview of “the value of the DQP” (p. 10) includes students, faculty members, and “the public.” It should include employers as well. They have found the DQP helpful in understanding the priorities of academic programs, in developing criteria to guide hiring decisions, and in screening candidates for employment.
  • The list of “guidelines for interpreting the proficiencies” could lead those seeking to make use of the DQP to find and clarify the correlations between the academic proficiencies defined there and documented employer expectations.
  • The five “areas of learning” essential to any degree program (p. 12) are all germane to preparation for employment, but their importance as elements in career readiness can be spelled out more clearly. For instance, learning to collaborate with others in addressing “both conventional and unscripted problems” represents a critical “employability skill” that employers have repeatedly emphasized as a priority (p. 12). (See
  • Similarly, the proficiencies themselves, organized within these areas in terms of the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree (irrespective of discipline), might include more explicit awareness of employment readiness. Three examples follow.

At the associate degree level, proficiencies expressing Specialized Knowledge might refer to appropriate employer expectations as well as to “the field of study” (p. 14). The second bullet in the list of three might be revised as follows: “Applies tools, techniques, and methods common to the field of study and to related opportunities for employment to selected questions or problems.

At the bachelor’s degree level, proficiencies expressing Intellectual Skills might include the capability of assessing not only problems “within the chosen field of study and at least one other field” but ones typically presented by careers that the student may be considering.

At the master’s degree level, proficiency in Civic and Global Learning may be demonstrated by the development of a proposal “addressing a global challenge in the field of study” (p. 19). Perhaps as an alternative students might choose to “address a challenge presented by a case study drawn from the student’s career objectives.”

As these few examples may suggest, the proficiencies defined by the DQP can easily accommodate more explicit attention to preparedness for employment. As all of the “areas of learning” invite such attention, there would appear to be no need for an additional category. But given the nay-sayers, there may be a need to reassert the unique value of the degree as opposed to credentials earned through short-term, highly concentrated programs. As Carol Geary Schneider has written, “The next edition [of the DQP] can show even more plainly why and how the combination of broad and specialized learning, consistently connected to career as well as civic applications, builds a 360-degree mindset that no short-term training program can match.”

In sum, good degree programs lead to good jobs. The DQP should say that—clearly.

All quotations are from DQP, 2014.

Official DQP and Tuning Archive!

NILOA now serves as the official archive for all materials related to DQP and/or Tuning efforts that were undertaken in partnership with the Lumina Foundation beginning in 2011. If you are interested in obtaining or reviewing any DQP or Tuning-related information, please contact