Competency-Based Education (CBE) is a course delivery method where you control the pace that learning takes place. This learning model is based on two key components: learning for competency and flexible-pacing. CBE focuses on helping you achieve competence or mastery of the concepts and skills covered in courses, while allowing you the flexibility to move more quickly or slowly through the courses. Read more about Competency-Based Education at NICC.
Competency-Based Education Programs
- Business Administration, A.A.S. - Online
- Business Administration, Certificate - Online
- Welding, Diploma - Online with on-site, in-person lab components
Class Start Dates
- January 10
- February 7
- March 14
- April 4
- May 17 (Welding courses)
- May 23 (Other CBE courses)
- June 6
"Competency-based education allows me to work at my own pace. I like that there aren't set dates that I must complete my work. It's on me to decide that. The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself."
Audrea Walsh, CBE Student
Benefits of Competency-Based Education
Flexible for Your Busy Life
CBE courses allow you to adjust your coursework to fit your schedule, earning your degree while balancing your work and personal commitments. You set your own deadlines and move through the course at your own pace. Courses are offered with multiple start dates each term so you can take a break without missing an entire semester.
Focused on What You Know
CBE is focused on your mastery of the concepts and credit is awarded based on how well you know the information, not how long it takes you to learn it. You can advance quickly through a course if you have prior knowledge or experience allowing you to take your time to understand a more challenging concept.
Personalized Support to Help You Succeed
Our instructors provide feedback and guidance so you can develop the specialized knowledge to achieve the mastery required for the course. You also receive one-on-one support from your success coach to ensure you are on track and to address your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I consider CBE?
CBE coursework is centered on your abilities and learning style. Instructors serve as a facilitator of learning for you rather than an entire class. You will progress at your own pace, are responsible for creating your own success plan, mastering competencies and, when ready, completing an assessment that demonstrates mastery. This can be done when it fits into your schedule, not when the instructor assigns deadlines.
How do I know if CBE is right for me?
CBE course content is module-based to allow for flexibility. You advance at your own pace while demonstrating mastery in clearly defined competencies. If you answer yes to the following statements, you would be a good candidate for CBE coursework.
- I believe educational success is my responsibility.
- I enjoy studying on my own.
- I am self-motivated and am not a procrastinator.
- I have good time management skills and complete assigned tasks on time.
- I am willing to communicate regularly with my instructors and success coach to ensure my success.
Do CBE classes follow the same schedule as traditional classes?
CBE courses have multiple start dates each semester. All coursework must be completed by the end of the semester, regardless of the course start date.
Is the course/lab work different for CBE classes?
The difference in CBE course/lab work is that it is personalized to you. Courses are module-based and as you master the content and skills, you will progress through the course.
Can I take all of my courses online?
You will complete all coursework online with the exception of welding labs, which will be completed in person on the Peosta campus.
Are there any special supports in place for CBE students?
As a CBE student, you will develop a close working relationship and communicate frequently with your instructors and success coach. In addition, you will have access to the Learning Center, our 24/7 online tutoring and Brightspace assistance.
How do I apply for a CBE program?
You can complete the College application for admission and indicate the program you are interested in. After your application is received, your success coach will contact you to discuss the program and assist you in getting registered for your courses.
Is financial aid available for CBE programs?
Yes, students are strongly encouraged to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after Oct. 1 as possible - regardless of your need. Iowa’s Last-Dollar Scholarship is available for specific programs, including the CBE Business Administration and Welding programs, which will cover the cost of your tuition if all requirements are met.
What if I have previous college or work experience?
You will work with your Success Coach to see how it will apply to your program. You may receive credit for completed coursework or credit for prior learning based on your work/life experience. This may help you accelerate faster through the program.
Talk with a Success Coach today to find out if Competency-Based Education is the right path for you.