How to Earn a College Degree--Without Stepping Foot in the Classroom

How to Earn a College Degree--Without Stepping Foot in the Classroom

For people who have spent more time getting an education in the real world than they did in the classroom, certain jobs, promotions and raises may have been limited due to the lack of a bachelor's degree.

That may no longer be a problem.

The University of Wisconsin is rolling out a new knowledge-based degree, called the "Flexible Option," which will grant degrees based on competency exams, rather than on time spent in the classroom. This allows people to get their bachelor's degree thanks to knowledge they've picked up in the working world, or to free online courses (commonly called Massive Open Online Courses).


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The program will grant degrees in such subjects as information technology and diagnostic imaging, plus master's and bachelor's degrees in nursing. 20% of adults in the state of Wisconsin currently have some college education but no degree, which has closed off many job opportunities to them.

The Flexible Option will be an affordable way for these workers to obtain a degree; though prices haven't been released, a spokesman said that the cost of taking the tests will be "significantly less expensive" than the $6,900 a year that tuition at Wisconsin's state universities would otherwise cost.

Though this sounds like a perfect solution to a problem for many, not everyone is as thrilled about the Flexible Option. Faculty members are concerned about the rigors of the testing process, in order to prevent the value of the degree getting watered down.

Northern Arizona University has discussed its plans for a similar program, and we imagine that many colleges around the country will be keeping a close eye on these new ventures, as they consider how to offer more affordable and cost-effective degree programs.


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