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Exploring Your Degree Options in Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is a growing trend in higher education aimed at giving students more flexible, affordable and personalized ways to complete their education. At its heart is the idea of providing students with skills they would need to achieve career success in today’s job market.

As many as 600 institutions in the United States were developing competency-based programs in 2015. As this number grows, so does the variety of degree programs you can choose and subjects you can study. To give you a better understanding of your options in the CBE landscape, we have profiled 157 programs from a handful of accredited colleges and universities that offer competency-based programs across the country.

We looked at thirty colleges in the Competency-Based Network – a group of regionally accredited universities that includes Rasmussen College – and Western Governors University (WGU), one of CBE’s earliest adopters.

Competency-based programs offered by colleges and universities in the CBE network and WGU are made up of a good mix of associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees and even include a PhD degree.

competency based education degrees

Half of the programs (80 out 157) we have reviewed are offered as bachelor degrees, with distinctions for Bachelor of Arts, Sciences, Business Administration, and Nursing depending on the degree subject.

Sixty competency-based programs we found are master’s degrees. Much like their undergraduate counterparts, they vary from Master of Arts to Master of Siences based on the subject in question. Most of these programs are in the fields of Education and Business with MEd (Master of Education) and MBA (Master of Business Administration) being common examples.

There are 12 degrees offered at the associate level, mostly spread across business and IT. A PhD program in leadership and change stands is the sole competency-based doctorate program to date.

Considering a relatively short history of competency-based education, 157 degree programs available is a reassuring fact. With a variety of degree level and subjects, the initiative has a lot to offer to potential students looking to go back to school or carry on learning as they advance in their career.

Backed by employers and government initiatives, the CBE trend continues to develop across the nation and at Rasmussen College. With this in mind, the diversity of degrees and subjects is likely to increase, giving more and more people an option to attain valuable skills and knowledge in a more flexible and personalized way.

Which is right for you?

As you can see, competency-based degrees come in all shapes and sizes. Deciding on which type of degree to pursue depends on a number of factors. From your current level of education to the amount of time you’re prepared to dedicate to your new degree, to your personal goals and how your degree of choice fits into them.

One thing you can be sure about is that by opting for a competency-based program, you’re choosing a more flexible, personalized, and affordable pathway to education. See our approach to competency-based education and find out what degrees we offer on our Flex Choice page.

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen College. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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