Northern Arizona University’s Competency-based Online Degree Programs Now Accepting Financial Aid

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Move Over MOOCs: A Public University Is Forging A New Path In Online Education

With the addition of financial aid to Personalized Learning, NAU is making the promise competency-based education a reality for nontraditional students everywhere.

Northern Arizona University (NAU), the first public university in the nation to offer competency-based bachelor’s degrees, announced today that its groundbreaking Personalized Learning program is now accepting all forms of financial aid.

Launched in May 2013, NAU’s Personalized Learning competency-based program makes earning a respected bachelor’s degree accessible and affordable with six months of unlimited self-paced online lessons for just $2,500. Learn more at

“With the addition of financial aid to Personalized Learning, NAU makes the promise of competency-based education a reality for nontraditional students everywhere,” said Fred Hurst, senior vice president of NAU-Extended Campuses and architect of Personalized Learning. “For the first time, a truly motivated student can earn a respected degree from an accredited public institution quickly and affordably.”

Unlike today’s popular MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses), which repackage traditional classroom content for the masses, NAU’s Personalized Learning program is individualized to work with each student’s experience and learning preferences.

“Ask any of our Personalized Learning students and they’ll tell you this is not a one-size-fits-all program,” said Dr. Hurst. “It is about creating a skilled workforce with the necessary critical-thinking skills today’s employers want most.”

Moving Beyond The Credit Hour
Personalized Learning degrees are competency-based, meaning they are not based on the traditional credit hour, which awards credit for class attendance and not necessarily knowledge.

Instead, students can only advance in their studies by demonstrating competency in each lesson. Competency is determined with pre- and post-lesson assessments. A student must score at least 86-percent proficiency in order to advance, regardless of how long it takes. Mastery (or an “A” grade) can be achieved through a supplemental assignment or project.

To determine if NAU’s Personalized Learning competency-based degree program is a good fit, interested students can take a free self-assessment at

Northern Arizona University created Personalized Learning with funds from a $1 million grant from EDUCAUSE and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Both NAU and Personalized Learning are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (

For more than 30 years, the Extended Campuses of Northern Arizona University has delivered a respected, accredited and affordable university education to students wherever they want to learn. Non-traditional students, including working adults, are empowered to advance personally and professionally through a network of more than 30 satellite campuses throughout Arizona and extensive online options offering over 100 degrees, certificate and endorsement programs across various disciplines. NAU-Extended Campuses continues to introduce innovative educational options to fulfill the growing need for public administrators, health professionals, teachers, business experts and community leaders within the state of Arizona, and beyond. To learn more about The Extended Campuses at Northern Arizona University, go to

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