Founded in 1875, Westminster College is a private comprehensive liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, Utah, offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.
In 2006, a team of Westminster faculty members began working on a new program design. This low residency, competency- and project-based degree completion model was initially developed as an undergraduate program in business. The program was formally launched in 2008, and the college has continued with the development process of project-based programs, including the MBA, the Master of Strategic Communication, and the RN to BS program.
In traditional programs, the classroom is used as a forum for faculty to disseminate information. In this program design, information is shared in an on-demand knowledge database. This technology enables students to read textbooks, watch videos, participate in simulations, or read case studies. Students complete each program only when they have successfully demonstrated full mastery of the program learning goals and competencies. The programs require students to show what they can do with what they know by completing real-world projects modeled after core activities in business, communication, and nursing.
Faculty members work individually with learners to help them achieve mastery in their projects. Some learners need a lot of help, and others need little: the approach is customized to the student. When learners’ projects do not meet the “mastery” requirement they work personally with their faculty coach to improve the projects. The end result is that students finish the programs with personal and meaningful experience.
Diversity and equity are embedded in the college's mission statement. As a result, diversity and equity are integrated into the competency-based education curriculum. The recruitment of under-represented students, international students and first-generation students is an institutional priority. Westminster College intends to add additional programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Over time and as enrollments scale, Westminster is hopeful these programs will show promise with regard to the delivery of high-quality student learning while controlling cost. The College aspires to become the first institution to implement a competency-based general education program for traditional residential students.