About 20 percent of Wisconsin adults have some postsecondary course credit.

Students at the University of Wisconsin (UW) can earn college degrees based on proven competency in a subject, making UW the first publicly-funded school to launch a competency-based degree program.

Led by officials at UW-Extension, a continued learning program with offices located across Wisconsin, the UW Flexible Degree will let incoming students demonstrate their knowledge and cut down on the time it takes to earn a degree.

UW Chancellor Ray Cross and Gov. Scott Walker unveiled the Flexible Degree program June 19 as a way to help Wisconsinites boost their education credentials and fill empty jobs that require a two-or-four-year degree.

Students who enroll in UW’s nontraditional degree program could receive financial help from federal and state grants and employer-sponsored grants. Employers involved in the Flexible Degree program will also help recent graduates pay back loans used to fund their education.

While competency-based learning isn’t new—Western Governors University (WGU) has used the model for years—UW’s embrace of the nontraditional online degree track is noteworthy because, unlike the private nonprofit WGU and for-profit online colleges, UW is a public campus.

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