Does the US department of education publish a list of universities that they've approved for Competency-Based Education? I've only discovered articles where they've approved a couple schools at a time. I'd love to find a complete list so that i can do a thorough comparison prior to choosing a program.

Competency-Based Education can be generically described with these bullet points:

  • Classes do not have a set end date. They end as soon as you're able to pass the necessary assessment test(s) for that subject. This could be in as little as 2 days if you're already knowledgeable on the topic.
  • You don't pay per class. Rather, you pay a flat fee for a block of time (typically 3 or 6 months).
  • You're able to take as many classes as you want within the 'subscription' timeframe. The only requirement is that you pass the assessment of class1 before starting class2.
  • Competency-based programs are typically in an online-only setting and do not require any time to be spent on a campus.

One benefit of this style of program is that efficient students can acquire a degree in a much shorter timespan than if they enrolled in a typical structured program. The end cost also has a high probability of being significantly cheaper than a structured program. Competency programs are commonly between $6000-$9000 per year.

  • "the department of education" - unless there is a global institution I am not aware of, could you specify which country you are referring to, please? Without that information, your question is unanswerable, given that there are probably hundreds of national departments of education around the world. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 13:56
  • Sorry, i meant the United States. I just added US into the question. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 14:00
  • 1
    Would you please clarify what is "Competency-Based Education"?
    – Nobody
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 14:05
  • A quick summary is that you pay a flat fee for a set amount of time and can take as many classes as you're capable of. You need only to pass certain assessments to prove you're competent on the subject and then you may move onto the next course. ed.gov/oii-news/… Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 14:10
  • 1
    Here's an article (there are many more) that indicates the Dept of Ed approves schools for this new style of education. insidehighered.com/news/2015/01/13/… Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 14:15

2 Answers 2


There's a preliminary list here of experimental sites with programs participating in the DoE's Competency-Based Education experiment. (Via this page about current DoE experimental initiatives.)

The list is watermarked "Preliminary" and is dated 4/16/15, so keep this in mind in how you use it - it may not be completely reliable or up to date.

  • One main benefit to being a participate in the experimental sites through Dept of Ed is access to financial aid for students. This is something that was not mentioned in your answer Commented May 10, 2016 at 5:28

Currently, there are over 200 universities in the US that offered Competency Based Education. The challenge is that the majority of these programs are not approved by the Dept of Ed, which means that students cannot apply for financial aid through many of these programs.

The main obstacles to approval involves

  • Receiving credit for life experiences
  • little interaction with faculty
  • Issues with credit hours

Therefore, as of now, you have many choices in terms of where to study but you would probably have to pay yourself until the Dept of begins approving these programs.

  • 4
    This totally doesn't answer the question. The question asks where one might find a list of those few programs that have been approved.
    – ff524
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 2:55
  • @ff524 Thanks for the positive feedback. Comp Ed programs do not require approval. The only benefit of formal approval is access to financial aid. The link for the number 200 provides options. BTW I always enjoy your comments Commented May 10, 2016 at 4:48
  • -1 for not being an answer. Whether or not approval is necessary is beyond the scope of this question.
    – moonman239
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 19:49

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