VGI’s Academic Curriculum Committee has identified the required competencies for the master’s degree offered. Competencies summarize the critical knowledge and skill levels essential for mastery of a particular field.
Each course is 3 competency units (3 credit equivalent).
There are three courses per quarter students must complete for the program.
Sixty (60) competency units are required to graduate with the MASSES degree (60 equivalent credits).
Colleges and universities traditionally award credit for classroom hours attended, conferring degrees based on student completion of a certain set of courses for a given number of credit hours. However, as industries evolve technologically, it will be very important to assess the competencies of a high-end labor pool with criteria other than hours spent in class. VGI offers a competency-based program for completing its degree and certificate requirements.
As David A. Bergeron, the organization’s Vice President of Postsecondary Education Policy noted in the article about adult learners currently in the workforce:
“Employers are more likely to invest in a competency-based degree program for continuing the education of current employees. Large-scale employers such as ConAgra Foods and FedEx already accepted this model… Employers recognize that they will benefit from their contribution because they will be able to influence the ongoing improvement and regular updating of the program.
This model will definitely benefit students, as it will enable them to enter the workforce with evidence that they have the skills they need for the responsibilities of their jobs – thereby avoiding a possible delay in accumulating income that results from taking on an unpaid internship.
The model also benefits employers, as it allows them to have input on the curriculum that is educating their future employees – potentially reducing the time and expense that might otherwise go into additional training for under-equipped new hires.
And beyond that, the model will also benefit the nation, as increased industry efficiency, innovation, and economic growth are driven by this symbiotic working relationship among students/future employees, employers, and higher education institutions.”
VGI’s competency-based programs allow students to demonstrate through assessments that they have acquired the set of competencies (levels of knowledge, skill, or ability) required for a particular degree or certificate. Students have often acquired many of the skills necessary for a degree through their life or previous work experience. VGI’s competency-based system enables students to employ such previously learned skills in proving their competency.
VGI students demonstrate mastery of competencies by exhibiting their understanding, skill and knowledge through the completion of application-based projects, written papers, creative projects, and completing assessments.
An assessment may come in many different forms, including:
- Assignments involving problem-solving skills, critical thinking, creative and imaginative thinking, reasoning, novelty, communication and presentation skills.
- Projects requiring the student to design based on ecopsychological principles and applications;
- Reflection essays, individual journaling; and
- Research papers on particular topics.
Each assessment measures knowledge and skill in a given area through an appropriate means, allowing students to prove their competency in that content area. Assessments at VGI are developed using a rigorous process that conforms to federal guidelines and professional testing standards. This process yields high-quality exams, reliable scores, and supports valid conclusions about each student’s level of competence. Students can be confident that all their assessments, whether computerized exams or performance tasks, align to and demonstrate specific competencies in their individual degree program.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is a measure of student progress toward the completion of the MASSES degree program. SAP is a quantitative measure based on the number of competency units (credit equivalency) a student completes during the quarter.
There are 3 courses per quarter = 3 competency units per course for a total of 9 competency units required to complete each quarter.
Students receive a mark of Pass or Not Passed on their permanent academic record for any courses taken for the quarter. A grade of Pass indicates that the student has demonstrated competency at a grade equivalent of “B” or better. Grades of Not Passed are counted as units that are failed and are counted against satisfactory academic progress.
Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress
SAP is evaluated at the end of every quarter and at the time of a withdrawal from VGI. To maintain good standing for SAP, students must achieve an overall minimum cumulative pass rate of 90% for all competency units for which they enrolled. A change in program will not affect a student’s SAP standing. Students who are requesting re-entry into the institute will return with the SAP status calculated at the time of withdrawal if they enroll within 1 year. Students who fail to maintain SAP are placed on warning and may be terminated from the program.