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What Is Competency-Based Education?

Colleges and universities across the country are incorporating a method of learning known as competency-based education. It is helping people obtain a degree later in life, when circumstances are more conducive. Here is an overview of competency-based education, and how it has become invaluable for professionals looking to advance their careers.

Answering a Need

Large numbers of people in the U.S. have some sort of college experience, yet they do not have a college degree. They may have left college to start a family, take up a job or for some other reason. Many of them realize the value of pursuing a degree and want to go back to school to earn one.

In the meantime, these people have accumulated valuable experience in their careers. But they feel going back to school would largely be a waste of time. With competency-based education, they can progress more quickly through classes covering material they already know. The result: they can earn a degree faster. The University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) offers fully online, competency-based bachelor's degree programs that  allow students to fit studies around work and home responsibilities.

Benefits of Competency-Based Education

Here are a few features of competency-based education that adult learners find advantageous:

  • You can build on previous knowledge: In UMPI's online bachelor's degree programs, for instance, students start each course with a readiness assessment that establishes what they already know. They can then focus on learning what they don't know.
  • You can control how fast you finish your courses: There are no weekly deadlines in UMPI's competency-based degree programs, so students can move faster through competencies they already have experience with, and take as much time as they need to learn less familiar content.
  • You pay a flat tuition rate per session: Competency-based degree programs typically charge a flat rate per term or session. Tuition for UMPI's YourPace online bachelor's degree programs is $1,400 per session, and students can take as many courses as they want at a time. The faster students advance through the program, the more they save.

UMPI's YourPace online programs provide students with faster, more efficient pathways to earn their degrees.

"There are so many adults who want to finish their degree or obtain that credential so they can attempt to go for that next promotion," said Carolyn Dorsey, Associate Professor of Business Management at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. "More and more workplaces are requiring advanced degrees to be able to keep up with the changes in technology.

"That's where competency-based programs come in," Dorsey said. "People no longer have to make a choice between going to school or being able to work, spend time with their family and having a life."

Learn more about the UMPI's online bachelor's degree programs.


Lumina Foundation: Competency-Based Learning

Getting Smart: Competency-Based Education: Definitions and Difference Makers

CompetencyWorks: What Is Competency Education?

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