What Kind of Learner Are You?

Comparing Competency & Course-Based Education

Northwest is a global leader in competency-based theological education (CBTE) and we continue to offer course-based programs. So which approach is right for you? To help you answer this question, take a look at the chart below that compares the two educational models.


Whether earned through competency- or course-based approaches, all Northwest degrees are accredited. That means every Northwest program and degree carries the full academic weight of corresponding degrees.


We design every program according to the standard credit-hour system of accredited North American universities: 1 credit hour = 40 hours of academic engagement, with each outcome or course being considered equal to 3 credit hours = 120 hours of academic engagement. These time estimates are based on the engagement of an average student rather than a specific measurement of required engagement for all students.


With the above in view, the only difference between competency- and course-based education at Northwest is that the academic accreditation of CBTE is built on achievement of outcomes, not assignments completed. Consequently, students who exit a CBTE program prior to graduation are only eligible for credit for completed outcomes. While Northwest will support students seeking to transfer credit to other institutions, the decision to apply credit is always retained by the receiving institution.

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