Should we re-think the traditional credit hour structure?

Correction: In a previous version of this article, the cost of the program and SNHU's non-profit status were misstated.

Dive Brief:

  • For-profit higher education conglomerate American Public University System has announced that four of its online undergraduate degree programs will require learners to master at least 60 competency-based modules for completion, eliminating the traditional credit hour model, Inside Higher Ed reports.
  • To enroll in the 16-week, $2,500 program offering degrees in criminal justice, fire science management, emergency and disaster management and retail management, learners must have previously earned an associate’s degree in an art or science.
  • APUS is the third institution in the last three years to replace the credit hour system of learning, following fellow for-profit Capella University and non-profit Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America. The APUS "Momentum" program has not yet received approval from the federal government for students to receive student financial aid.

Dive Insight:

While the construct of competency-based education may be controversial to many in academia, for families and learners considering costs and timing for earning a degree, this is likely to be a major opportunity to earn credentials in disciplines which are in-demand across the country.

Seemingly, the competency-based system can save institutions money on personnel and allow more investments in mentoring and tutoring, can possibly increase cohort graduation rates in a short period, and help to create curriculum building partnerships with industry leaders. Not only that, but focusing on competencies, rather than credit hours, could help demonstrate to employers mastery of skills that can be directly transferred into the workforce, and help higher education fight back against the idea that schools are not preparing students for the jobs employers need to fill.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed For-Profit
Top image credit: Pearson