Cheap, class-free college degree becoming a reality

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2013 10:25 a.m. MST

Julie Laub helps a student, A.J. Watts, during an AP chemistry class at Davis High School in Kaysville this past fall. Laub earned her master's degree through Western Governors University, which uses competency-based assessments instead of credit hours to measure learning.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

You can now get a degree cheaper and by taking no college classes, according to a report from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

It allows students the ability to receive a degree based on competency rather than class time or credit. This is done through tests. When a student feels he can complete a test, he can take it, regardless of class time.

“Students can demonstrate college-level competencies — no matter where they learned the material — as soon as they can prove that they know it,” according to the report.

The price reduction is currently unknown, but should reduce net tuition. Current in-state tuition at the University of Wisconsin is $6,900 a year on average.

The lower cost can come due to the accelerated time of completion, a more affordable online model and grants from federal, state, private and work force development grants.

“Leaders from across the state have agreed to collaborate to make this model of education as affordable as possible without sacrificing quality,” according to the report.

University of Wisconsin is unique in offering bachelor’s degrees through this method. Previously, schools like Northern Arizona University offered competency-based credits in associate’s degrees such as nursing and business, according to an article by The Wall Street Journal.

The main focus for the program is to help Wisconsin’s work force, David Giroux, university spokesman, told The Wall Street Journal. Twenty percent of Wisconsin adult residents have some college credits but no degree. The program could encourage completion of those degrees.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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