Review the List of CBE Resources

There are a number of books, book chapters, and research reports written about competency-based education. The following list includes resources we have used to shape the 10 Shared Design Elements and the C-BEN work cycles. If you have suggestions for additions to this list, please email this information to and we will get this list updated. In the future, C-BEN will be posting a searchable, annotated resource list on this site so please check back for updates.


Book Chapters and Reports


Shared Design Elements and Emerging Practices of Competency-Based Programs

In January 2015, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Public Agenda set out to find program design elements shared among thriving competency-based education (CBE) programs. Several months of research, and conversations surfaced ten shared design elements. These elements were sourced and vetted in collaboration with project sponsors, partners and CBE program leaders. Then, the elements were validated through a comprehensive field survey. The field is young and growing. Amid such rapid change it is striking to see these ten shared design elements and their emerging practices show up again and again. These design elements and practices are meant to instruct rather than prescribe. We hope our findings guide and support your CBE program design process, leading you and your team to the most robust and quality program possible.


Competency-Based Education Ecosystem Framework

The Competency-Based Education Ecosystem Framework provides the most detailed and accurate description to date of what competency-based education (CBE) looks like from the perspectives of learners, higher education professionals, policymakers and others involved in this rapidly expanding movement. The report gives everyone involved in CBE programs a baseline understanding and common language to guide the development of high-quality programs.


Faculty and Staff Roles and Responsibilities in the Design and Delivery of Competency-Based Programs: A C-BEN Snapshot

Michelle Navarre Cleary, Associate Dean of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, DePaul University

A new report reveals that colleges and universities offering competency-based education (CBE) programs have common expectations for program design and that those responsible for designing and delivering these programs tend to be full-time employees with a master’s or a doctorate degree.


America’s Call For Higher Education Redesign the 2012 Lumina Foundation Study Of The American Public’s Opinion On Higher Education

Lumina Foundation and Gallup

Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college — especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students, and adult learners. Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practices, through public policy advocacy, and by using communications and convening power to build public will for change.


Cracking the Credit Hour

Amy Laitnen, New America Foundation and Education Sector

The basic currency of higher education – the credit hour – represents the root of many problems plaguing America’s higher education system: the practice of measuring time rather than learning. This piece traces the history of this time-based unit, from the days of Andrew Carnegie to recent federal efforts to define the credit hour.


Competency-Based Education as a Potential Strategy to Increase Learning and Lower Costs

Stephen R. Porter, North Carolina State University Kevin Reilly, University of Wisconsin System and Presidential Advisor for Leadership, American Council on Education

This paper examines competency-based education as a potential cost-saving strategy for both students and institutions, and seeks to understand how these programs can be implemented at regional public institutions.


Competency-Based Education and Federal Student Aid

Stephen R. Porter, North Carolina State University

Competency-based education programs don’t easily fit within standard time-based approaches to disbursing federal student aid, making access to Federal Direct Student Loans and Federal Pell Grants difficult. With the pool of potential students limited by the availability of financial aid, colleges and universities continue to have little incentive to design large-scale competency-based programs. Addressing this challenge will be critical to the future of these programs.


The Degree Qualifications Profile, Defining Degrees: A New Direction for American Higher Education to be Tested and Developed in Partnership with Faculty, Students, Learner and Stakeholders

Lumina Foundation

As all stakeholders in higher education focus more intently on increasing degree attainment, it is more important than ever to fully understand the meaning of those degrees. While many institutions have worked to identify student learning outcomes to inform their own work, these efforts have been largely invisible to students and other key players.


Visit the C-BEN site for more resources by clicking here.