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Competency-Based Degrees and Programs written by

Explore the distinctive advantages offered by competency-based degrees and programs, and delve into the realm of adaptable learning and mastery of skills.
In the dynamic landscape of modern education, competency-based programs have emerged as a flexible alternative to traditional higher education structures.

In response to industry demands for practical skills, these programs prioritize mastery over classroom hours, offering a swift path to earning college credits. Stay tuned as we explore competency-based degrees, highlight leading programs, and discuss why these affordable and flexible options could be the right fit for your educational journey.

What Is a Competency-Based Degree?

Competency-based degrees and programs evaluate your mastery of specific skills and knowledge rather than emphasizing traditional credit hours and class schedules.

In these programs, you advance according to your own speed and progress through the curriculum by demonstrating proficiency in predetermined areas. Essentially, the faster you master a subject, the sooner you fulfill course requirements.

These programs frequently incorporate real-world projects, personalized learning paths, and assessments. They cater well to self-motivated learners and mature students, enabling you to highlight your current skills and expedite your progress through familiar content.

5 Competency-Based Colleges and Universities

Now that you understand competency-based programs, where can you locate one? Continue reading as we highlight three leading competency-based programs and explore the benefits they provide.

Purdue University Global

Founded in 2018 under Indiana's Purdue University system, Purdue University Global is a public online institution catering to more than 40,000 online learners. Purdue Global specializes in competency-based, accelerated degrees focused on mastering skills. Its programs are structured with clear benchmarks aligned with industry standards.

Purdue Global prioritizes personalized student support, including mentorship, to enhance online learning success. The institution offers a range of graduate and undergraduate programs in diverse fields such as cybersecurity and nursing.

Competency-based degree programs available include:
  • Business administration
  • Criminal justice
  • Healthcare administration
  • Nursing (RN-to-BSN)

University of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix, a private for-profit institution, provides competency-based degrees emphasizing practical skills applicable to real-world scenarios. UoPX designs its programs around industry-specific competencies, offering both graduate and undergraduate degrees.

Featuring personalized mentorship and adaptable pacing, students can complete up to four courses every 16 weeks. UoPX's competency-based approach not only enhances flexibility but also reduces costs compared to traditional programs.

Competency-based degree programs offered include:
  • Business administration
  • Health administration
  • Information systems
  • Nursing (RN-to-BSN)

How Does Competency-Based Learning Work?

Competency-based learning centers on mastering precise skills and knowledge rather than conforming to traditional schedules. Progression through courses hinges on demonstrating proficiency in predetermined areas through assessments, projects, and exams.

Moreover, you enjoy the freedom to advance at your preferred speed, accelerating through material as you showcase competence. Each demonstrated competency accumulates credits toward your degree. This learner-centered approach empowers you to customize your learning journey and earn a degree based on your demonstrated abilities.

Competency-Based Programs vs. Traditional Four-Year Programs

Competency-based programs are often characterized by their speed, flexibility, and affordability. Wondering if they're the right fit for you? Explore the table below to compare competency-based and traditional programs.

The Benefits of Competency-Based Degrees

Competency-based degrees offer distinct advantages such as affordability, flexibility, and accelerated progression. Explore below to understand how a competency-based degree can benefit you.

Increased Flexibility: Compared to traditional programs, competency-based degrees provide unparalleled flexibility. You can set your own pace when encountering new material and swiftly move through familiar content. These programs are often delivered online, supporting remote access and personalized study plans that cater to diverse learning styles and accommodate professional and personal commitments, thereby broadening access to higher education.

Quicker Time to Completion: Competency-based programs facilitate faster academic advancement by focusing on your mastery of subjects. As you demonstrate proficiency in various areas, you progress through the curriculum, potentially accelerating through topics you already know well. This personalized approach contrasts with fixed semester schedules, allowing for potentially quicker graduation.

Flat-Rate Tuition: Many competency-based programs operate on a flat-rate tuition model, where you pay a set fee regardless of how long you take to finish your degree. This structure is advantageous as it encourages efficient completion and can lead to lower overall costs compared to traditional programs that charge per semester.

Is a Competency-Based Degree Right for You?

Competency-based programs offer significant advantages for working adults, career changers, and military service members. These individuals often juggle diverse personal and professional commitments, making flexibility a crucial benefit.

Moreover, nontraditional students frequently bring valuable prior knowledge and experience to competency-based programs. Returning students, who may have taken a break from their education, find these programs accommodating as they help them catch up on lost time.

Self-directed learners thrive in this model, navigating familiar topics efficiently and dedicating extra time to mastering new and more challenging subjects. Competency-based programs provide an opportunity for an affordable and accessible college education tailored to individual needs.

What is a competency-based master's degree?

A competency-based master's degree evaluates your proficiency in essential skills and knowledge relevant to a specific field. Rather than adhering to a set timeline, you progress based on your demonstration of mastery in the required subjects. This method typically incorporates personalized learning, diverse assessments, and real-world projects.

Can a competency-based degree save you money?

Absolutely, a competency-based degree can lead to significant savings in higher education costs. By advancing through courses based on demonstrated skills, you have the opportunity to complete your degree more quickly, thereby reducing tuition expenses. Many of these programs also offer a flat-rate tuition model, enhancing affordability and making competency-based education a cost-effective route to earning a college degree.

Can you get financial aid for competency-based degrees?

Yes, financial aid options are frequently available for competency-based degrees. Many colleges and universities that offer these programs are accredited, enabling students to access federal financial aid, grants, scholarships, and loans, similar to traditional degree programs.
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