CWU News

With New FlexIT PACE Program, Students Earn Competency-based Online BS Degree at Accelerated Pace and Lower Cost

Central Washington University announces the FlexIT PACE program, a new online bachelor of science degree in information technology and administrative management (ITAM) that is completely self paced, real-world focused and competency based. FlexIT is the first of its kind for Washington State public higher education institutions, bringing a groundbreaking alternative to students who want to earn a degree in retail management and technology.

CWU's FlexIT PACE program provides students the ability to complete their degree in a way that matches their needs and timeline. PACE stands for Proven Applied Content Experts, which is what students become after completing the program.

Education is traditionally based on a university schedule, but FlexIT PACE is based entirely on each student's schedule, needs and abilities. Students determine the speed with which they complete their courses. In each six-month increment, students can complete as many competencies and courses as they are able, receiving one-on-one mentoring. This new program saves students time and money, as the price is a $6,000 flat fee every six months. That cost includes all the classes one can complete, textbooks, and a mentor for personalized support and guidance. (Financial aid is available.)

"This competency self-paced degree is in response to the challenge to meet the Washington State Achievement Council’s goal of 70 percent of all Washington adults participating in post-secondary education,” says Tracy Pellett, PhD, CWU Associate Provost. “The best way to increase college access is to creatively and innovatively meet the unique needs of working adults who are bound by location and time.”

Faculty mentors provide one-on-one guidance and assist students in moving as fast or as slow as they wish, depending on their abilities, past experiences, and personal situations. The degree is well suited for retail specialists who want a traditional, yet self-paced degree; who desire an accelerated self-guided program; or for experienced retail professionals who want to avoid spending class time on topics they already know.

As more public universities expand to meet high-demand markets, more programs like CWU’s FlexIT PACE program are being offered. UC Davis School of Medicine recently announced a partnership with Kaiser Permanente Northern California to facilitate qualified medical students in accelerating the completion of their studies down to three from the traditional six or seven years. The University of Arizona now offers a successful competency-based leadership program based on curriculums and benchmarks from more than 500 schools across multiple career fields. The University of Wisconsin now offers flexible, competency-based programs in the RN to BSN nursing program and a bachelor of science in information science and technology.  

CWU is the first Washington State higher education institution to offer a true undergrad competency-based flexible program and now leads the state in a growing new trend that enables students to earn a credible degree in their own time and at their own pace.

"I've interviewed hundreds of people and never once asked for verification of their degree or education,” says Kim Obbink, CEO, Filter Digital. “However, I always ask for evidence of their abilities.  A program like FlexIT is the best way to create this real world evidence pertaining to knowledge and abilities."

"I work for Costco, which places a high value on degrees,” says Stephanie Wildman, a graduate of CWU’s ITAM department. “Education is the next step for those wanting to move up within their career,” she says, adding, “the FlexIT program is a great way for people to achieve this."

"FlexIT PACE meets the needs of students who already have experience and knowledge, but the lack of a degree is holding them back," says Laura Portolese Dias, PhD, program coordinator and assistant professor of ITAM.

The retail management and technology degree prepares business professionals for careers infused with information technology in areas such as e-commerce, management, selling, purchasing, operations, merchandising, distribution and logistics, and entrepreneurship. The program is based on six-month blocks with once-a-month start dates for new students. The program begins October 1, 2014.

Visit the CWU website for more information about ITAM and the FlexIT PACE program.

June 18, 2014