Competency Based Master's Degree Programs

Competency Based Masters DegreeA competency based masters degree allows you to use the knowledge and experience you already have to potentially earn your degree in less time. This type of degree may save you money by allowing you to take less classes and to focus on topics and subjects that you’re not as familiar with.

Plus, as many of these programs are online and allow you to study at your own pace, you may be able to immediately apply this additional knowledge to work.

List of 6 Competency Based Masters Degree Programs

Competency based master’s programs offer you the ability to potentially earn your degree faster by giving you credit for what you already know. These programs either allow you to enter the program at a later stage than those without the qualifying experience, or to quickly test out of a specific course when it comes up on your schedule.

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1. Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global understands that working adults approach learning differently than traditional students. As a result, the school delivers a fully personalized, world-class education that’s tailored for working adults.

Competency Based Policy at Purdue University Global

ExcelTrack is Purdue University Global’s personalized learning and competency-based programs that give you more control over your education.

These programs are designed to advance your progress based on your existing knowledge and courses focus on developing the skills you may need to advance your career. Many of the students are organized, self-motivated, and driven with previous work experience.

Competency Based Master’s at Purdue University Global

ExcelTrack and competency-based graduate programs are available for the core courses of an MSN and for the MBA programs, including:

2. Thomas Edison State University

With a national reputation for academic excellence and educational integrity, Thomas Edison State University (formerly Thomas Edison State College) is designed specifically for adults through flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities.

Competency Based Policy at TESU

One of the early adopters of offering competency-based programs, TESU offers programs that value what you know and can do. The competency based curriculum in the two programs listed below focus on advancing the knowledge, research, and practice through the application of theories and research.

This applied experience is designed to provide an opportunity to apply what you learn to actual work environments.

Competency Based Master’s at TESU

3. Walden University

Walden University has been serving the higher education needs of adult learners for more than 45 years through programs that reflect current market trends and that promote positive social change.

Competency Based Policy at Walden

Tempo Learning is Walden’s competency based and self-paced platform that allows you to earn your degree in a way that fits your lifestyle. These programs:

  • Have classes that adapt to your learning style
  • No weekly deadlines
  • Mobile-optimized experience and access to content on demand
  • Online communication with faculty
  • May control your costs through subscription-based model

The competency based education means your progress is measured by proving your knowledge, skills, and expertise through a variety of assessments. As you move forward with competencies, your work experience and previous education may allow you to accelerate progress.

These programs allow you to create your own schedule and take assessments when you feel comfortable with the material. As a result, you can take the assessment you already have experience with right away.

Competency Based Master’s at Walden

Some of the competency based programs at Walden include:

4. Boston Architectural College

Established in 1889 as The Boston Architectural Club, the BAC is the largest independent college of spatial design in New England. With the mission of providing excellence in design education stemming from practice and accessibility to diverse communities, The Boston Architectural College strives to be recognized as a leader in the education of design professionals.

Competency Based Policy at BAC

The Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) at the BAC was the first NAAB-accredited low-residency program in the country. With a competency based option, the school is taking that a step further.

The M.Arch. is broken into three segments:

  1. Explore Design Principles and Theories
  2. Strengthen Knowledge with Hands-On Technical Skills
  3. Apply Knowledge and Skills in Your Thesis

Unlike many programs, the M.Arch. allows students to be placed into the program based on your experience level. For instance, you can enter at Segment 1, halfway through Segment 1 after the Portfolio Review, or at Segment 2.

By entering the program at a later stage based on your professional experience, you may be able to earn your degree in less time, which may save you money.

Competency Based Master’s at BAC

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

The M.Arch. at The BAC integrates ongoing, real-world design practice with traditional classroom learning that prepares students to earn licensure in as little as two years.

5. Indiana Wesleyan University

A Christian comprehensive higher education institution of The Wesleyan Church, Indiana Wesleyan University was founded in 1920 and remains committed to liberal arts and professional education.

Competency Based Policy at IWU

IWU offers one competency based master’s program, which is the advanced standing MSW. Unlike many programs that require you have a certain number of years of professional experience, this program requires that you earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from an CSWE accredited program.

In addition, the school requires that you earned a 3.0 GPA in your bachelor’s degree and that you earned the degree within the last seven years.

You also need to submit your Final Field Education evaluation to show that it has been completed and signed by all parties.

Competency Based Master’s at IWU

Advanced Standing Master of Social Work (MSW)

This program prepares you for advanced social work practice through an emphasis in clinical skills and through opportunities for you to become a world changer to maximize your ability to be of service to fellow human beings.

6. Northern Arizona University

Founded in 1899, Northern Arizona University is a public university that offers a student-centered learning environment. The school strives to develop solutions to challenges and drive innovation in a supportive, inclusive, and diverse environment.

Competency Based Policy at NAU

With respected degree programs, Northern Arizona University offers competency based programs designed to meet the needs of busy and working professionals.

The Personalized Learning degree programs are broken into modules so that you can put your real-world experience to work for you. This learning style allows you to set the pace and set your own deadlines. Plus, they offer weekly start dates to fit your busy schedule.

Competency Based Master’s at NAU

Nursing, M.S.

Designed to build upon your RN license, the MSN Generalist degree maintains the same rigor and high-quality education of a traditional program, but offers the flexibility to balance career, family, and other commitments through the Personalized Learning platform.

What Is Competency Based Learning?

Competency based learning is a type of program from higher education institutions that allows you to perform an assessment to prove that you understand a particular topic.

Usually for undergraduate programs, more master’s programs are offering competency based learning options, which give you credit for your life experience or military experience.

Types of Assessments for Competency Based Degrees

Some of the types of assessments include:

  • Test
  • Portfolio
  • License
  • Interview

These assessments, and others, allow you to earn credits or potentially by-pass courses based on previous knowledge. Other programs are designed so that you completely create your own schedule, so that you don’t have weekly assignments or requirements to post on message boards like many online programs.

Instead, you have a series of quizzes and tests that you complete when you feel comfortable with the material. This means that if you can complete a course quickly based on your previous knowledge and experience, you can take the required quizzes and tests and move on to the next course.

Keep in mind that every program is designed differently, especially when it comes to competency based programs. As a result, be sure to check with each school, as well as the specific competency based master’s degree, before applying.

What Is the Competency-Based Education Network?

The Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) is a group of colleges and universities to address the shared challenges of designing, developing, and scaling competency-based degree programs.

These regionally accredited institutions take part in research and development to provide evidence-based approach to advancing affordable, high-quality competency-based education capable of serving many more students of all backgrounds.

Common Competency Based Degree Requirements

Many competency based master’s programs have similar admissions requirements as traditional master’s programs. However, they usually include additional requirements or benefits such as those listed below.

Keep in mind that every school has unique requirements, so check with each school you’re interested in before applying.

1. Work Experience

Some programs require a certain number of years of professional experience or a professional portfolio to show that you have certain competencies. This may include experience managing, especially for MBA programs, or field experience for MSW programs.

2. Bachelor’s Degree

As with many master’s programs, competency based graduate programs require that you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

However, some competency based programs, especially advanced standing MSW programs, may require that you have earned your bachelor’s degree within a certain amount of time.

This is to make sure that the material is still fresh, as are the rigors of pursuing a degree. Typically, these programs also require that you have a license or meet other requirements.

3. Perform Coursework on Your Schedule

While many online graduate programs provide freedom and flexibility that on-campus or traditional programs may not offer, competency based programs typically provide even more.

For instance, in addition to being able to enter at a later stage of the program or the option of testing out of certain courses, many competency-based master’s programs allow you to perform coursework completely on your own schedule.

This type of freedom means that unlike many online programs that still have weekly deadlines or specific due dates for assignments, earning a competency based degree may allow you to study at your own pace.

Find the Perfect Competency Based Master’s Degree for You!

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