Everyone is talking about competency-based education, and for good reason. Competency-based programs, such as the UW Flexible Option, make it possible for adults around the country to earn a college degree while balancing work and family.
But what is competency-based education? How is it different from the traditional model? Most importantly, what does it mean to you?
Competency-based education explained
Simply put: In competency-based education, it’s about what you know and are able to do, not how long it takes you to master the course materials.
In the traditional higher education model, you must spend a fixed amount of time in the classroom – usually fifteen week semesters – regardless if you know the material and want to move ahead, or if you don’t quite grasp it and needed extra time. We believe that not all student learning can – or should – fit within a rigid timetable.
Competency-based education turns that traditional model on its head. Your progress through your coursework is based on your ability to prove you have mastered competencies—the skills, abilities, and knowledge required in an area of study. You do this by passing assessments after you’ve reviewed the learning resources. However long it takes you to master the material is unique to you.
What are the benefits of competency-based education?
By focusing on what you know rather than how much time you spend learning, competency-based education puts you in control of your education like never before. Instead of working at an instructor’s pace, you can use your existing knowledge to work at your own pace. You prove mastery of competencies whenever you’re ready to do so.
The idea is especially appealing for the millions of American adults with busy schedules who already have significant knowledge or even some college credits, but no degree. Many of our students tell us that the flexibility provided by UW Flexible Option programs allowed them to finally complete their degree and fulfill a lifelong personal goal.
Get a UW Flexible Option Degree Guide
Download an introductory guide (PDF) to the self-paced, competency-based UW Flexible Option programs, including details about costs, admission requirements, and more.
The competency-based UW Flexible Option is:
- 100% Online. Complete your coursework from your living room, a coffee shop, or the office. The only time you need to come to campus is to walk in the graduation ceremony when you finish!
- Flexible. No scheduled log-on times, no commutes. The UW Flexible Option lets you start any month and work toward your degree on your own time. Want to take breaks in between courses? Go for it. Your coursework won’t get in the way of the rest of your busy life.
- At Your Own Pace. Take assessments whenever you are ready. As soon as you prove mastery, you receive credit and can move on, without having to wait for the next lesson or semester. Move quickly through material you know or take more time if you need it.
- Accredited. The UW Flexible Option builds on the University of Wisconsin System’s reputation for quality and innovation. All UW Flexible Option programs are accredited and are built by the same faculty who teach on UW System campuses.
- Supportive. The programs are at your own pace, but you’re not alone. Receive personalized advising from an Academic Success Coach who is there from when you start the program through your graduation. They help make sure you have the resources to be best setup for success.
- Affordable. Instead of paying by course or by credit, the UW Flexible Option lets you pay a flat rate for a subscription period. If you are highly motivated and have significant experience related to your degree, you may be able to accelerate your progress and shorten your time to graduation. This structure saves you time and money.
Is competency-based education right for you?
Although competency-based education offers returning adult learners like yourself a real opportunity to earn a college degree while balancing work and family, this innovative model is not for everyone. But if you are the right kind of student—experienced, self-directed, and motivated to succeed—then the competency-based UW Flexible Option may be just the right fit.
Call one of our enrollment advisers today— 608-262-2011— to learn more about how you can fit college into your busy life and earn your degree.
Click on any of the images below to learn about how some of our students have made competency-based education work for them.