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Kentucky Commonwealth College

Kentucky Commonwealth College is a collaboration of participating universities and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education with leadership and governance provided by the provosts/chief academic officers of the member institutions and the vice president/chief administrative officer of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Kentucky’s Commonwealth College is a statewide bachelor’s degree program in high-degree occupational areas for adults in an online, competency-based format at Kentucky public universities. Commonwealth College assists adults with degree completion by providing seamless pathways to baccalaureate degrees based on the KCTCS Learn on Demand, competency-based online model.

Kentucky’s statewide model for competency-based degrees for adults is unique in the U.S., with the potential to significantly increase educational attainment, improve Kentucky’s workforce, better attract and retain business and industry, and offer hope of a better quality of life for Kentucky’s citizens.

The concept of Commonwealth College began with Budget Bill 265 of the 2012 legislative session that directed the Council to develop an “Adult Learner Initiative” with KCTCS. After two years of research and planning, the university presidents approved the collaborative competency-based education Commonwealth College program. Each institution will award their respective competency-based degrees, with the Commonwealth College logo on the diploma.

Participation in Commonwealth College is voluntary with the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University offering the first two degrees in 2015-16. We anticipate at least two additional universities will offer competency-based degrees within the next three years.

The competency-based education program at the University of Louisville is a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership & Learning (OLL) with an emphasis in Healthcare Leadership. The degree currently requires 123 undergraduate credit hours, and the CBE portion will constitute up to 45 undergraduate credit hours or 45 independent modules. The other credits may be achieved through qualified undergraduate credits transferred from a regionally accredited institution, undergraduate courses through Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s competency-based education program, and/or prior learning assessment. The competency-based program in Healthcare Leadership is expected to launch in spring 2016.

Western Kentucky University (WKU) is planning to launch the Bachelor of Science in Advanced Manufacturing as a bachelor completion competency-based education program. Manufacturing is the largest industry in Kentucky, employing more than 215,000 workers and generating $28 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually according to the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers in 2013. According to a recent survey by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce in 2013, the need for workers to fill new and vacant manufacturing related jobs in the region will reach 9,000 by 2020. The competency-based education program at WKU is one response to the growing demand for a larger skilled and knowledgeable workforce in manufacturing related fields.