A competency-based degree program can make it faster and less expensive to acquire the skills employers want.

A smiling man working at a laptop.

In today’s professional climate, your know-how can be your most important asset. If you’re a working professional and want to expand your skills, competency-based degree programs offer an opportunity to earn your degree online while developing new skills that make you more valuable to your current employer—or more marketable to others if you’re looking to make a change. Best of all, competency-based education gives you the freedom to learn at your own pace, which can help you lower the cost of your education while reducing the time it takes to earn your degree.

What is competency-based education?

According to a study by the American Enterprise Institute, competency-based education can “streamline the path to a college degree for a significant number of students.”* Rather than enrolling in predetermined courses that require a specific amount of time to complete, you master individual skills and knowledge areas (competencies) at whatever pace works best for you. You demonstrate your mastery of competencies through competency-based assessments. Once you’ve proven your mastery of all the competencies in your program, you earn your degree.

Walden Offers 80+ Online Programs to Move Your Life Forward, find your program now.

How can competency-based education save time and money?

Students in competency-based degree programs can complete as many competencies as they want during any specific term without incurring additional tuition costs. The U.S. Department of Education has found that “[b]y enabling students to master skills at their own pace, competency-based learning systems help to save both time and money.”

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGBUC) concurs. According to its report on the subject, competency-based education’s “technology-based approach to learning has the potential to lower cost for students and their families.”

The AGBUC also points out that competency-based education’s “sharp focus on student learning outcomes is designed to validate the quality of the degree.” Simply put, these online degree programs are structured to help ensure that the time and money you spend is worthwhile. You have the opportunity to complete these programs more quickly, with the real-world skills employers want.

Can a competency-based degree help you find a job or earn more?

In The New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas L. Friedman has examined employer response to competency-based education, and reported that employers “just want to know one thing: Can you add value?”§

Because competency-based degrees require you to demonstrate proficiency in your field, you will enter or advance in the job market with skills you’ve practiced and mastered. This can be beneficial when applying for jobs or raises.

Where can I find a competency-based degree program?

A growing number of accredited universities offer competency-based learning. Because most of these institutions offer their competency-based education as an option within their online degree programs, you can enroll in (and complete) these programs from anywhere in the world.

Explore competency-based learning through Tempo Learning™ by Walden University, an accredited university offering online programs, and earn your degree at your own pace in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.

*American Enterprise Institute, Center on Higher Education Reform, “The Landscape of Competency-Based Education,” on the Internet at https://www.luminafoundation.org/files/resources/competency-based-education-landscape.pdf.

†U.S. Department of Education, “Competency-Based Learning or Personalized Learning,” on the Internet at http://www.ed.gov/oii-news/competency-based-learning-or-personalized-learning.

‡Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. “Competency-Based Education: What the Board Needs to Know,” on the Internet at http://agb.org/trusteeship/2014/1/competency-based-education-what-board-needs-know.

§The New York Times. “How to Get a Job,” on the Internet at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/opinion/friedman-how-to-get-a-job.html.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

Man sitting at latop
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Talk to your personal enrollment advisor for more information today. Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.
Talk to your personal enrollment advisor for more information today. Please use our Domestic Form if you live in the U.S.
*Required Field
Academic Interests
Contact Information
Invalid email address
Please provide a valid phone number
Please provide a valid zipcode
Additional Information
Get Started

By submitting this form, I understand and agree that Walden University may contact me via email, text, telephone, and prerecorded message regarding furthering my education and that calls may be generated using automated technology. You may opt out at any time. Please view our privacy policy or contact us for more details.


By checking this box, I agree that Walden University may contact me by email, text message, autodialed telephone call, and prerecorded message at the contact information provided above regarding opportunities and offers to further my education. I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time and that my consent is not a condition of any purchase. I have received the Walden University Privacy Policy