Skip to content Skip to Live Chat


How You'll Learn at WGU

We Call It Competency-Based Education—Our Grads Call It the Best Way to Learn

Here at WGU, student success is our focus. That's why we have pioneered a unique learning model that allows you to be in the driver's seat of your education. We want you to utilize your past knowledge, capitalize on your experience, and follow the best process for your own learning. That's why we developed competency-based education. We remain the only institution offering competency-based degrees at scale, creating a model other colleges and universities are increasingly striving to replicate.

What is competency-based education? Simply put, it measures skills and learning rather than time spent in a classroom. Students progress through courses as soon as they can prove they’ve mastered the material, rather than advancing only when the semester or term ends. If you can learn faster, spend more time on schoolwork, or lean on knowledge you already have from previous work or school experience, you can accelerate through your courses.

This approach is core to our student focus and our goal to become the University of You—a university that is dedicated to delivering what YOU need to succeed. With 24/7 access to online learning resources to engage with on your schedule, you can embark on a learning journey tailored exactly to your own knowledge—focusing on areas where you need more help and moving quickly through areas you already know or understand. In addition, faculty members are here to provide personalized, one-on-one learning support.

Competency-Based Education Explained by Students

"WGU provided exactly the experience I needed to make getting my degree a reality. As a full-time worker, there are plenty of excuses that you can lean on to avoid going back to school. I did it for years. WGU changed all that. Three things stand out: flexibility, competencies, and support. Flexibility is everywhere at WGU. You can approach the courses however you like. Read the book, watch videos, join live discussion sessions, you name it. Choose your path. That reduces some of the challenge inherent in formal education. It's easy to see how each course contributes to the real-world thanks to competency-based courses. No more rote memorization and vague assignments. There's a clear sense of purpose to everything."

WGU Graduate

Reimagine the Path to Your Degree at WGU

Student Flexibility

Learning at WGU puts you in the driver's seat of your education.

  • Efficient: Education pathways are focused on learning, not seat time. You are able to spend time on areas where you need more understanding and accelerate where you already have knowledge.
  • Flexible: Study happens whenever and wherever it works best for you. WGU learning resources are available anywhere Wi-Fi is.
  • Individualized: Every student is different. At WGU, we believe the learning experience should be built around YOU.
  • Supportive: You have a whole team of navigators along for the ride—faculty, staff, even fellow students.


Low, flat-rate tuition and the opportunity to accelerate programs allow you to have more control of total costs.

  • Low tuition: Our commitment to helping students graduate with less debt starts with low tuition—about half* the average cost of other online institutions.
  • Flat rate: Our flat-rate tuition is charged per six-month term, not per credit. So you can take as many courses as you want in a term and not pay more. This allows you to utilize competency-based education to your advantage—moving more quickly through courses helps you save money! Graduate faster, pay less.


WGU is about real-world results—providing students an impressive return on their investment.

  • Competencies: The hallmark of competency-based education are the competencies—the clearly defined skills and knowledge that you will master. Our competency-based approach is widely recognized by employers because it’s an approach used by most corporations as the basis for promotions and advancement.
  • Proof: A degree from WGU tells employers that you are a proven expert and will be an invaluable addition to their team. After all, you earned your degree by proving you've mastered the competencies that employers are specifically looking for.

*WGU average annual bachelor’s tuition rates are 57% the national average, compared to national rates reported by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. WGU average rate does not include rates for WGU Bachelor of Science, Nursing Prelicensure program.

How It Works

Discover exactly how competency-based education works for your degree program and what steps you will follow to complete your courses.

Graduates Explain it Best

Joel Bianci

Graduate in teaching

"Half of what I learned from my master’s at WGU is a model for my classroom: tailoring curriculum for each student, checking in with them while giving them freedom, reducing structure, and giving room for kids to learn how they learn best.”

Lisa Turnbull

Graduate in IT

"The WGU model allowed me to thrive. I needed a competency-based program that allowed me to use my experience. I needed flexibility to allow me to be a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a Girl Scout leader. I needed affordability because I had a family and could not add another bill.”

Bradley Hall

Graduate in business

"There are a few things that WGU offers that other programs don't, and one is the competency-based format—the mastery, to make sure that you learn the skills before you move on to something else. Traditional schools don't offer that. You simply go to class and you get what they're working on that week and if you don't get it, too bad, we're all moving on. Many key concepts are lost with that."

Frequently Asked Questions about Competency-Based Education

Competency units or CUs are basically the same as a credit-hour in a traditional college. Because we measure competency instead of time in–class, we call them competency units rather than credits. Each WGU course is approximately 2–4 CUs and you need approximately 120 CUs to graduate with your undergraduate degree, 30-36 CUs for your graduate degree.

Nope! At WGU we charge tuition per six-month term, no matter how many courses and competency-units you complete during that time. 

Education Is Attainable

WGU is the top choice for busy, value-focused adults who need a degree to reach their career goals.