Menu

What is Competency-Based Education?

Competency-based education combines an intentional and transparent approach to curricular design with an academic model in which the time it takes to demonstrate competencies varies and the expectations about learning are held constant.  Students acquire and demonstrate their knowledge and skills by engaging in learning exercises, activities and experiences that align with clearly defined programmatic outcomes. Students receive proactive guidance and support from faculty and staff.  Learners earn credentials by demonstrating mastery through multiple forms of assessment, often at a personalized pace.

A Growing Interest

Competency-based programs are generating increased interest and awareness in higher education. Many colleges and universities see the potential to better plan, organize, and deliver educational opportunities and experiences at the program level than are available through traditional academic instruction—in which paths to completion and what students will learn are often less transparent and progress is measured primarily by the accumulation of credit hours, the achievement of minimum grade-point averages, and the passage of time.

Designed with the Individual in Mind

Competency-based education is rapidly changing, and new models are constantly emerging. In most competency-based programs, learning can occur in a wide variety of forms and settings, and students can receive regular support and encouragement along the way. Students are assessed using objective, performance-based tools that reinforce the rigor of programs. Many of these programs are designed as flexible, affordable options for students who are not served well by existing postsecondary programs. Students receive more intensive guidance and support from faculty and mentors and also have the option of accelerating their studies to save additional time and money.