The U.S. Department of Education Approves Groundbreaking Learning Model


The U.S. Department of Education Approves Groundbreaking Learning Model

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The U.S. Department of Education approved Capella University's innovative FlexPath programs, making it the first university to offer competency-based bachelor's and master's degree programsthat utilize an approved direct-assessment learning model as opposed to the traditional credit-hour standard. Approval from the Department of Education allows students enrolled in these programs to receive federal financial aid. The two Capella programs approved to operate under the FlexPath model are the Bachelor of Science in Businessand the Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Capella ( is a regionally accredited online university* that has built its reputation by providing high quality online degree programsfor working adults. The FlexPath programs offer the potential to significantly reduce the cost of a degree, accelerate the time required for degree completion, and better align learning to the needs of employers and society. Traditionally, degree programs are constructed around credit hours that measure the time required to complete specific courses. Under the FlexPath model, degree programs are constructed around the direct assessment of demonstrated competencies.

"Programs like FlexPath, that measure learning instead of time, represent an enormous opportunity for higher education," said Scott Kinney, president of Capella University. "Students will be able to move through a degree program at a pace determined by their ability to learn and demonstrate competencies in real-world applications, rather than a pre-determined and uniform time designation. This has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of a college degree while maintaining quality and integrity of the degree."

To gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of the FlexPath model, Capella invited select learners over the last two quarters in its Bachelor of Science in Business and MBA programs to take a limited number of their courses in a self-paced format. The students in the pilot demonstrated that in the hands of the right people, this model can offer critical savings and unique flexibility contributing to higher completion rates.

In March, the Department of Education published a "dear colleague" letter providing clarity for higher education institutions looking to drive innovation through competency-based direct-assessment programs like FlexPath. The letter recognized the growing interest for programs that allow students to work at their own pace based on accomplishments rather than hours. In response, Capella submitted its program for review.

"We are honored that the Department of Education has approved these programs. This exciting development will offer an important new option to the adult students we serve who are looking to earn a respected degree as efficiently and affordably as possible," Kinney said.

The FlexPath model provides a revolutionary step into more innovative approaches to higher education. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which accredits degree-granting institutions in the north-central region of the United States, approved the FlexPath programs in May.

The FlexPath model allows Capella to focus on learning outcomes rather than time spent learning. In an era of free and open content, this is an important innovation that will help drive down costs for students while still making Capella University instruction available for those who will benefit from a more traditional approach. Faculty will remain at the heart of Capella's FlexPath model as they provide feedback and guidance for students working to demonstrate and master competencies. The true success of this innovative model depends on rigorously articulated and well-developed competencies. Capella has an extensive record of developing and offering curricula that are competency-based.

Capella will start enrolling new students in the FlexPath programs in October 2013.

About Capella University
Capella University( is a regionally accredited online university* that has built its reputation by providing quality online degree programs for working adults. As of June 30, 2013, about 70 percent of Capella students were enrolled in master's or doctoral degree programs in business, counseling, education, health administration, homeland security, human resource management, human services, information technology, nonprofit management and leadership, nursing, psychology, public administration, public health, public safety, and social work. Capella also offers bachelor's degree programs in business, information technology, nursing, psychology, and public safety. Within those areas, Capella currently offers 144 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 22 certificate programs. Approximately 36,000 learners were enrolled as of June 30, 2013, from all 50 states and 61 other countries. Capella is committed to providing high-caliber academic excellence and pursuing balanced business growth. Founded in 1993, Capella University is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capella Education Company (NAS: CPLA) , headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, please visit or call 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552).

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*Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA),
Capella University, Capella Tower, 225 South Sixth Street, Ninth Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55402, 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552),


Capella University
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