As student loans continue to grow and grow among college graduates, many are looking for any way to lower the cost of higher education. The concept of competency-based education has arisen as a potential solution to this problem.

Competency-based education is based on the idea of allowing students to progress through their education at their own pace, compared to the normal “seat time” or credit hour centered model of higher education. The goal is to provide students with quicker, cheaper educations that are hoped to be more effective because they are personalized for the individual students.

This concept can have multiple benefits for students. First, it gives students the ability to save both time and money. These benefits go hand-in-hand: when students are allowed to study at a faster pace, they naturally save money by spending a smaller amount of time in higher education.

The movement in favor of competency-based education is growing in popularity. Recently, the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, formerly known as the College of Technology, received a $500,000 prize from Purdue President Mitch Daniels for their proposal to create a transdisciplinary bachelor’s degree program based around competency-based learning.

Also, the University of Michigan has received accreditor approval for a competency-based master’s program in health professions education. The program “targets full-time practicing health professionals in the health professions of medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and social work.” This is a telling achievement because not only does it show that competency-based is gaining ground in multiple institutions, but it also demonstrates that one potential application for this type of education is allowing working professionals, who spend most of their time working, the opportunity to continue their educations without disrupting or changing their lives in a large way.

There is a litany of other accomplishment related to competency-based education. State efforts have been implemented in New Hampshire, Michigan, and Ohio; several school districts have started efforts to integrate this type of learning into their systems, and many more. For more information on these and accomplishments, click here.

What do you think about competency-based education?