What is competency-based education and how does it work?

Competency-based education is an innovative form of teaching that puts more control and flexibility in the hands of you, the student. That means you won't have traditional scheduled courses in a classroom or virtual space. Instead, you're free to take classes at a pace and sequence that match your time and ability, through our online learning systems like Brightspace by D2L and Microsoft Teams, plus work-integrated learning projects and face-to-face teaching options in some programs. This means you don’t have to quit your job to up-skill and earn that promotion or new career! 

Competency-based education (CBE) is built with work-readiness in mind. Courses, assessments, and learning pathways are based in competencies, which define what will be expected of professionals in this industry or profession. These competencies are identified by and built with employers to ensure relevance in the job market.

Progress towards graduation occurs by demonstrating competencies required. You will be able to take each competency assessment up to three times – including at the beginning – and use the feedback from each attempt to guide your own personal development with support from your instructor, academic advisor, and other staff across the College. You save time by only studying the modules or courses you need to develop in, and can bypass those you’re already assessed competent in. 

This flexibility is made possible by our subscription-based tuition model (we'll explain this later). You pay a flat fee every two months that allows you to enroll in as many or as few courses as you want, all while maintaining full-time status!

Just like every Bow Valley College program, you still have access to dedicated faculty for each course and to student services like our Academic Success Centre, counselling, career services, academic advising, and library to help you succeed! You are never alone whether you take a traditional or competency-based education program at Bow Valley College. 

 

Why would I want to take a competency-based education program?

 

Courses that set you up for success

We build our courses by working with experts who do the job and leaders who do the hiring. Therefore, you can be confident what you learn will match what will be expected of you on the job.

Not only will you have the skills, you’ll also be able to identify and describe those skills, so you’ll be ready to perform in the job interview.

Assessments that help you grow

In competency-based courses:

  • You can take the assessment when you are ready: no more panic cramming.
  • You are rewarded for past skills and experience: if you can show you are competent, you move on.
  • With up to three chances to demonstrate competence, you can build and grow with each attempt: fewer high-stress tests and less memorizing!
  • You’ll always know exactly what is expected of you in an assessment. Never guess what is on the final exam again.

Learning and development that is all about you

Our competency-based education courses are learner-centered, meaning you’re in control! 

  • Wherever you are in your learning journey is where your personalized learning plan starts. Instructors will help you develop according to your needs!
  • Progress at your own pace! Not feeling ready to take the assessment? No problem: we will work with you until you are.
  • Choose your own schedule. Working fulltime or juggling other commitments? No problem: work when it suits you.
  • Get a personalized learning plan, built by your instructor, based on the results of your assessment.
  • Interact with your personalized learning plan – customized just for you – however you want.  You may want to do all the suggested learning activities, or only a few. You are in control.

Is competency-based education right for me?

  • Do you have clear employment goals, perhaps to upskill to get that promotion or transition into a new field?
  • Are you self-motivated to achieve your goals?
  • Are you looking for a flexible route to earn a college credential?
  • Do you want to build useful, functional skills that are needed in the workforce?
  • Do you have transferrable skills or experience but lack that credential?

If you answered yes to all or some of these questions, a competency-based education program could be a great fit for you. To find out more, contact the Welcome Centre before you apply for admission! 

Bow Valley College’s registration, tuition, grading, and other learner policies apply to this and all Bow Valley College programs. See our Student Policies page to learn more

Paying tuition in a competency-based education program

Because of the flexibility and pacing of competency-based education, we charge tuition on the half-term (every two months), rather than by individual course. A regular Bow Valley College term is four months long, so you will pay tuition roughly every two months until you complete the program. Pay only for as long as you remain in school.

Move as quickly or slowly as you choose, taking it course-by-course or a full load at one time, for the same flat fee. You'll be considered a full-time student and have access to all the Bow Valley College student services included in your mandatory fees.

If you already have skills and training or are self-taught in your field, you can save money and time by progressing through the program at a faster pace. If you're moving slower, the flat rate helps make your tuition payments predictable for budgeting, financial aid, or sponsorship purposes.

Competency-based education courses available now

Cloud Computing Post Diploma Certificate

Get the skills you need to develop and implement cloud systems and applications. Build your coding and applied systems management skills. 

Learn more

Data Management Analytics (DMA) Post Diploma Certificate

Gain the data knowledge necessary to help employers become more efficient, productive, and embrace the digital revolution.

Learn more


  • If you are currently studying in a post-secondary program at BVC, please register for your courses via mybvc to ensure your enrolments and fees are processed appropriately.
  • Cart total based on domestic tuition rates. For information about International Tuition rates please see Fee Information
  • If you anticipate applying for a student loan, your payment will be refunded to you based on your loan award once your funding has been received by BVC.

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