Brandman News

Brandman’s new competency-based program is making headlines

December 30, 2014 by Brandman University

CBE_2The word is out: an innovative new program at Brandman University is poised to be a game-changer in American higher education. It is a self-paced Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) degree program that students can complete entirely online and on any device, including tablet computers and smartphones. There are no textbooks to purchase for this new program because all material is contained within the new online platform, which has been developed specifically to prepare graduates who can clearly demonstrate personal mastery of core business competencies.

As Paul Fain reports in Inside Higher Ed, Brandman’s new “competency-based bachelor’s degree gives a glimpse of where the increasingly popular form of higher education might be headed. Students can access 30,000 pages of course material for the degree (not all of it required) on their tablets or smartphones.”

Reporter Sarah Tully explains in the Orange County Register, “Brandman always has had a major online component and offers other degrees online, but this will be the first degree that can be completely accomplished on a mobile device – an iPad or a smartphone, a regular personal computer version is also available.”

Business reporter Paul Hughes, who writes for the Orange County Business Journal, observed in a recent article that “the program is designed for Brandman’s core clients—adult professional learners who need education to advance a career, and the companies that employ them. The school said both groups—it surveyed 102 organizations, with 90% responding positively to the program outline—want bachelor’s degrees that apply directly to the work they do daily.”

What is competency-based education (CBE)?
Dr. Michelle Weise, a senior research fellow in higher education at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, explains that academic institutions are “acknowledging the inefficiency of measuring learning by seat-time and are becoming more willing to experiment with competency-based programs to see how they can center on fixed learning outcomes.”

“Competency-Based Education is Brandman’s response to the need for affordability, accessibility, consistency, and increased quality of educational instruction,” says Brandman Chancellor Gary Brahm.

Competency-Based Education (CBE) is an educational method that leverages the power of technology to match the business skills that are most needed in the modern workforce. The unique structure of the program requires students to concretely demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities, without requiring them to sit through a traditional 8- or 12-week course. Rather than focusing on teaching new concepts to students, CBE assesses and awards credit for already proven capabilities and skills, then provides an education plan customized to the student’s educational needs. Students can move through the program as quickly as they like but must demonstrate mastery over a concept before moving on.

In a letter sent to colleges last year, Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education David Bergeron noted that competency-based programs “have the potential for assuring the quality and extent of learning, shortening the time to degree/certificate completion, developing stackable credentials … and reducing the overall cost of education. Over the last several years, some institutions of higher education have developed new and creative program models in which students are provided with the means to acquire the knowledge and skills at an individual pace to demonstrate achievement of specific competencies identified as necessary to complete a program and earn a degree or other credential.”

The new BBA program at Brandman will launch in Spring 2015. Tuition is just $5,400 per year (all-inclusive), so most students in this new program will be able to complete the bachelor’s degree within 30 months at a total cost of about $13,000. If you would like to be notified when applications for the new program are open to the public, you can add your name to the list here.

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