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August 26, 2014

College for America is an online degree program with no classes, no professors, and no credit hours. Offered through Southern New Hampshire University, the $10,000 degree program relies on students' skills to award credit. The program was recently featured as part of PBS NewsHour's Rethinking College series.

College for America has been cited as an innovative way to make college more affordable. But how do its students qualify for a degree? PBS' Hari Sreenivasan reported from New Hampshire on the school's unique approach to higher education.

For more than a century higher education has relied on the credit hour, students earn credit for hours spent in class. In turn credits add up to a degree. And while the credit hour is still the mainstay at Southern New Hampshire University, the school has also embarked on a movement that questions the very value of the college classroom.

That movement is competency-based education, where students earn credit at their own pace by demonstrating their skills.

Students are given a series of projects to complete on their own time. The projects are evaluated by experts, in an approach called direct assessment.

Last November, when Southern New Hampshire first announced their latest degree program, WGBH's On Campus spoke with Southern New Hampshire University's President Paul LeBlanc.

You can listen to that story here: 

This story is part of a week-long series airing on PBS and WGBH. 

For more information about the series visit the PBS NewHour's Rethinking College page.

new business models, technology and innovation, NewsHour, PBS

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