Where Will Your University Rank Among Competency-Based Programs?
In this age of academics, it is becoming increasingly more evident that students learn in different ways and at different paces—especially adult learners. As discussed previously, competency-based education (CBE) is on the rise, giving potential hires more confidence in what they can offer and making them a valuable commodity to an employer, which will hopefully lead to better employment opportunities for the estimated 37 million American adults with some college, but no degree.
What all this means is colleges and universities should be paying attention to see how such CBE programs can be implemented at their institutions. As the U.S. Department of Education continues to refine processes and criteria for approving more competency-based programs, here are five institutions already garnering attention.
Making Learning More Accessible
Capella University – This online program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and seven professional accreditors. It also has more than 500 alliance agreements with other colleges and universities, including 250 community colleges and 19 Fortune 100 companies. Through prior learning assessment, students receive credit for knowledge based on their experience.
Southern New Hampshire University – Within SNHU is their College for America (CfA) adult learning program. The CfA is dedicated to offering college degrees that are competency-based, low-cost, and uniquely applicable in the workplace. To date, they have partnered with over 50 employers to create programs for job-specific skills.
The University of Michigan – Offers a master’s degree of health professions for working professionals in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and social work. Students interact with mentors by phone, email, or video chat. Enrolled students get credit for their existing competencies. They must also earn additional credit equivalencies to receive their degree and pass a “summative assessment” based on their learning portfolio.
The University of Wisconsin System – The school’s Flexible Option program offers five competency-based online certificates and degrees, targeting adult students with college credits but no degrees. They are also developing new competency-based degrees in professional studies, which is a bachelor’s degree, and geographic information systems — a master’s degree.
Western Governors University – Considered one of the leaders in CBE, they charge a flat-rate tuition for every six months of enrollment, and students’ advancement is based on what they can prove they know. It also has state-based versions of its program in Indiana, Texas, Washington, Missouri, and Tennessee.
Next Steps for Success
By no means are CBE programs perfect. There is plenty of room for improvement, particularly in the areas of refining rules and regulations, making it more mainstream, and getting these programs approved for Federal Student Aid (Title IV). But progress is being made and more schools are likely to offer them as an option. So, the question becomes, “Where will your institution rank?”
Share with us how your institution is using CBE to attract students.
Photo Courtesy of: VasenkaPhotography