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Competency-Based Degrees for Federal Employees

March 15, 2017

Southern New Hampshire University will offer competency-based degrees to federal employees through its College for America, the university announced this week. The partnership with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management means all federal employees will be able to earn associate and bachelor's degrees from College for America at an annual tuition rate of $3,000. College for America offers degrees in health-care management, communications, general studies and management.

The nonprofit SNHU in 2013 was the first to gain federal approval for a form of competency-based education called direct assessment, which is self-paced and does not rely on the credit-hour standard. A handful of other colleges have followed SNHU and College for America with direct-assessment degrees.

"This alliance will open the doors to higher education for thousands of federal workers and their families and will allow them to develop skills that are immediately applicable in the workplace," said Paul LeBlanc, SNHU's president, in a written statement.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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