Competency-based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is a new model in education that uses learning, not time, as the metric of student success. This student-centered, accelerated approach redefines traditional credit-based requirements in learning and stresses competencies derived from the skills proven to be the most relevant by educators and employers.

With competency-based education, institutions can help students complete credentials in less time, at lower cost—with a focus on real-world learning that leads to greater employability. This versatile model benefits the student, the instructor, the institution, and the economy.

Explore the resources below or contact us to learn more about CBE.

Whether you are in the planning, growing, or optimizing stages of your CBE program, we are here to help.

SolutionsResources Success Stories From the Blog Events & Webinars



Planning for CBE

Program Strategy & Planning

Pearson’s experts in competency-based education analyze an institution’s capacity to implement a new CBE learning model and help them formulate a strategy, program design and implementation plan.

Consulting Services

Our team of education consultants brings deep experience in higher ed administration, data analysis, and strategic planning in partnership with leading institutions.

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Growing CBE

Assessment, Curriculum & Student Support

Informed by the program strategy and pedagogical goals, our curriculum specialists design and develop assessment strategies, content, curriculum, and student support tools. Each aligned to the unique learning needs within a competency-based education program.

Curriculum Services

Pearson’s high-quality, tailored, and student-centered curriculum development meets each client’s needs, from on-ground to blended to fully online courses.

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Help Desk Services & Technical Support

With Help Desk services from Pearson, your users get 24/7 access to live, full-time technical support professionals with specific expertise on your learning technologies.

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Online Tutoring from Smarthinking

The leader in on-demand student support, Smarthinking provides research-based, research-proven online tutoring services for students, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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In this self-paced online learning program, students can master academic courses at their own pace using award-winning content and academic support from Pearson.

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Optimizing CBE

Data-Informed Learning Design & Analytics

Our data and analytics team helps institutions design for and use data to enable increased student engagement, learning, retention, and completion within CBE programs.

Data & Analytics Services

Pearson’s analytics services help institutions improve persistence and retention outcomes by using data from our digital courseware to identify the biggest risk areas of high-enrollment, high-attrition gateway and general education courses by exposing at-risk students.

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CBE Playbook

CBE Playbook

The CBE Playbook is an organizing framework to help academic leaders think about, organize, and manage the many phases and decisions involved in developing a CBE program.

Access the Playbook Overview

Access the Full Playbook

Developing a CBE Program: Four Key Decisions

Developing a CBE Program: Four Key Decisions

Pearson’s experts in competency-based education have identified four strategic decisions in planning a CBE program that are critical to articulate. This white paper addresses how these decisions will inform choices made during implementation and shape the success—or failure—of a CBE program.

Read the white paper

Developing a CBE Program: Four Key Decisions

Defining Competencies and Outlining Assessment Strategies for CBE Programs

This paper discusses the importance of developing assessment strategies that validate student knowledge, as demonstrated by real-world, performance-based measures. Key research is shared to highlight the value of understanding, writing, and measuring competencies.

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A New Measure for Collegiate Learning: What Presidents Think About the Promises and Pitfalls of Competency-Based Education

Conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education in the spring of 2015, “A New Measure for Collegiate Learning,” shows widespread support for awarding credits based on competencies. Completed by nearly 200 college and university presidents, the survey focuses on their attitudes of competency-based education, their experience with alternative forms of measuring learning and the potential barriers to change.

Read the report


Measuring Mastery: Best Practices for Assessment in Competency-Based Education

This paper provides insights about how test developers and program administrators can work to validate their assessments and establish performance levels that map to real-world mastery, paying particular attention to the kinds of research and development common in other areas of assessment.

Read the white paper

Watch the webcast


Competency-Based Education Framework & Readiness Assessment

Pearson’s experts in competency-based education created this tool to help institutions gauge their readiness to implement a CBE program. The framework outlines seven necessary components to consider—from market analysis and program design to admissions/registration and continuous improvement—to help you deliver effective competency-based education.

View the framework


Putting Students First: The Case for Competency-Based Education

What is competency-based education? How can we really know that it’s an effective model for improving the state of higher education? Learn more about competency-based education and institutions that are implementing it well.

Read the paper

Success Stories

CBE Adult Learner

Competency-based Learning Comes to THECB

In this podcast, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) explains the value they see in competency-based learning and discusses why this increasingly popular model of education is being embraced by their state.

Listen to the podcast


Creating Pathways for More Affordable Degree Programs in Texas

Texas A&M University-Commerce, South Texas College, and Pearson have partnered to deliver competency-based education degrees.

Read the success story

Defining Competency-based Education at Northern Arizona University

Dr. Corrine Gordon, Northern Arizona University (NAU), explores what it means to be a truly educated person and whether seat time is the best way to measure learning. Hear how competency-based education is being used at NAU to ensure that learning comes first.

From the Blog

Your source for trends, issues, and perspectives around CBE. Share ideas! Be part of the conversation.


Events & Webinars


Online Learning Services

Discover how CBE can be implemented with our online learning services.

View our online learning offerings