Get Credit for What You Know


If you were a medic in the military for 10 years, why is it that you need to take a freshman-level Anatomy 101 course to complete a bachelor’s degree after transitioning from the workforce? Or maybe you have been a bookkeeper in a small business for years but never got around to finishing your college degree — should you have to take low-level accounting classes? These are the real-life examples of working adults who did not take the traditional path straight to college out of high school but hold relevant skills and competencies that transfer into core learning outcomes in higher education. The leadership at Texas A&M University-Commerce (TAMU – Commerce) saw the talent in these learners, as well as the barriers, which led it to create the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate program, a BAAS in Organizational Leadership — the first competency-based bachelor-level degree program. The program provides opportunities for students to receive credit for what they know and can do, allows students to accelerate completion of their degree, and because it is fully online, students are able to plan their study schedule around the rest of their work-day to complete the coursework. “It has been my miracle because it fits into what my life is now: a full-time employee, a wife, a mother …and now a student,” says student Maranda about the competency-based education program at TAMU – Commerce in a testimonial on its website.

From the success of the competency-based education (CBE) framework, TAMU – Commerce created the Institute for Competency-Based Education to provide formal resources and dedicated time for faculty to do research, host national CBE symposia and develop new competency-based education programs and practices.

This article is part of the 2020 Higher Education Review Magazine.