Take Control of Your Learning Through Competency-Based Education

Adult learner dad doing online competency-based education

What is holding you back from earning your degree? Do you have plenty of professional experience, but no college degree to show for it? What if I told you that you could complete a degree in a fraction of the time that it normally takes, at your own pace, and on your schedule? Have I gotten your attention yet?

Competency-based degree programs can be the perfect solution to obtaining the degree you have put off over the years because it never seemed to be the right time or you didn’t feel you could afford to invest in your education. The flexibility and affordability of this educational model may surprise you – in a good way!  

The Benefits of Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education programs have many benefits, especially for experienced working professionals. The focus is on what you know instead of how much time you are spending on a particular subject area. You control how quickly you move through a degree because you use existing knowledge to prove mastery of each subject. The more job-related experience you have, the more likely you are to have gained knowledge through training and working.

Time and money are often saved because you are working through courses at your own pace. You are not required to spend a fixed and pre-determined amount of time in a class like a traditional higher education model. You can move through the competencies you already know and then spend time learning unfamiliar material. You aren’t required to advance through coursework based on an instructor’s syllabus. When you feel you are ready to take your assessment, you can do so. You set your own schedule and goals for completing your courses.  

Instead of paying per credit hour or per course, competency-based programs typically allow you to pay a flat rate fee per term. The fee covers all of the courses you can complete during that period. Term lengths vary from school to school. For example, Western Governors University, one of our network partner schools, has six-month terms. You can take one course at a time. When proving mastery of the competencies within the course, you move into the next one. At Capella University, also a network institution, the terms are 12 weeks long. Students can take two courses at a time. You can focus on one class at a time or both. It is totally up to you. When you complete a course, you can then register for the next so you’re always enrolled in two courses at a time. Of course, the quicker you move through the curriculum and earn your degree, the more money you save.

The flexibility of competency-based learning is unmatched. Students are not required to attend live classes. This means there is not a scheduled time to log into your class, so you can access it at any time, day or night. This flexibility works well no matter what your work schedule requires. If you have children, you may want to sit down at the table with them and do your homework together or you can wait until they are in bed! If you travel a lot, bring your laptop with you. Use your downtime at the airport or between meetings to complete your schoolwork. You can move through as quickly or slowly as you like.   

What type of person would be a good fit for a competency-based program?   

  • Self-starters and those good at sticking to schedules  
  • Those with a good grasp on time management and discipline since there aren’t deadlines for submitting projects and taking tests
  • Individuals with prior work experience in the subject area they intend to study

Now that you know more about what competency-based education is and how it works, does this format sound like a good fit for you? If so, check out some of the EdAssist Education Network schools offering this learning format:

Brandman University (MyPath)
Capella University (FlexPath)

Purdue University Global (ExcelTrack)
Western Governors University

On-Demand Webinar: Learn at Your Own Pace With Competency-Based Education

Join us to learn more about competency-based education and find out how to fit it into your academic journey.

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Written by: Laura Russell

June 2, 2021

About the Author

Laura Russell head shot

Laura Russell joined the Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions coaching team in 2016. Before coming to Bright Horizons, she spent 25 years working in higher education in admissions and academic advising capacities. Laura holds a master’s degree in Public Administration.