US education department approves College for America program

April 22, 2013

The US Department of Education has approved the eligibility of Southern New Hampshire University to receive federal financial aid for students enrolled in the university's new College for America program for working-adult students. The program is billed as "the first degree program to completely decouple from the credit hour," where students do not have courses or traditional professors. Gaining access to the program through their employers, students make progress toward an associate degree by showing mastery of 120 competencies, which are phrased as "can do" statements. Students demonstrate mastery of skills by completing tasks, which are shipped out for evaluation to a pool of part-time adjunct professors. Southern New Hampshire University also assigns "coaches" to students to help them establish their goals and pace, as well as asks students to pick someone they know as an "accountability partner" who checks in with them and nudges them along. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)