Competency-Based Education

Competency-Based Education

Northland's Competency-Based Education programs and courses put you in control of your education.

What is Competency-Based Education?

Your education,
your way.

With Northland Competency-Based Education, you study on your own (always with access to your instructors as needed), use Northland’s Flex Labs to practice and develop your hands-on skills, and you advance (pass the class) as soon as you’ve mastered the material and can demonstrate your new skills. You move on to the next course at your pace.

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Who is Competency-Based Education for?

Competency-based education is for everyone.

From the working professional to a recent high school grad to the at-home tinkerer -- Northland Competency-Based Education is for everyone.

The Competency-Based Education model caters to all learners, regardless of different educational goals. You can earn a full two-year degree or any number of certificates — or you can simply sign up to learn a specific new skill to advance your career or take your hobby to a new level of expertise. If you’re a fast learner, have more time to study, or walk in already knowing the basics, you can move through a course or program at an accelerated rate.

For the working professional, Northland CBE will give you the skills, knowledge, and abilities to advance your career.

For recent high-school grads, Northland CBE gives you a self-paced environment to launch your career as quickly as possible.

For the at-home tinkerer, Northland CBE gives you a chance to learn the specific skills you need for your personal projects.

Text us at (218) 230-2210 or call (800) 959-6282

Benefits of a competency-based education

Pave your path, at your pace

Every student is different. With Northland Competency-Based Education, we believe the learning experience should be built around you, not us.

Set your timeline for completion.

Enroll in one class at a time or many. Move on to other courses throughout the semester at your own pace. The more courses you complete each semester, the sooner you’ll graduate.

Learn at your own pace.

Finish a course and advance to the next one without having to wait. If you find materials challenging, you can slow down and spend additional time with them. We designed our experience to adapt to your learning style -- not to a calendar.

Fit your schedule.

Learn when it works for you—nights, weekends, or anytime—with an education that works around jobs, around kid’s schedules, and your life. You set your deadlines, so learning always fits your schedule.

Choose your start.

Flexible start dates that cater to working adults. Class registration accepted any time during the semester which allows you to choose a start date that works for you.

Your prior experience counts.

You may be able to apply coursework from previous degrees and certificates—or even your work experience—to save you time and money.

Learn on campus or online.

Study whenever and wherever works best for you. Programs and classes allow you to connect with instructors on campus or online.

Prove you learned it in Flex Labs.

Online learning is not enough. The Flex Lab is where one-on-one, hands-on training happens. Northland's CBE programs are hands-on, skills-based subjects and require you to spend time in the Flex Lab, working with industrial equipment and practicing your skills. In addition, Northland instructors, pros in the field, are on-hand during Flex Lab hours to give you feedback, test your skills, mentor your progress, and administer skills assessments.

Text us at (218) 230-2210 or call (800) 959-6282

Competency-Based Education Programs

Degree programs made for you.

Northland Competency-Based Education programs respect your time and money by letting you advance at your own pace. You’ll also be able to make your experience work for you by using existing knowledge to advance through your program more quickly.

See below for current Northland Competency-Based Education program offerings.


Mechatronics combines mechanical systems, computer, electrical, and control systems. These are the heartbeat of advanced manufacturing, and jobs are waiting for technology-savvy people. Northland's program is flexible--expand your skill-set by taking one course, work on a certificate, or go for an Associate's Degree in Mechatronics.

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Welding Process Technology

Are you thinking of a career in welding or looking to advance your current job with a new skill set? Maybe you just need some welding basics to use at home in your shop? Whatever your goals, we’ve got you covered. The Northland Thief River Falls campus offers four different tracks for you to get the welding skills you want - fast.

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Text us at (218) 230-2210 or call (800) 959-6282

Competency-based education courses

Skillup with competency-based education courses.

Northland Competency-Based Education courses can help the do-it yourselfer learn skills to complete projects at home, at your business, or on the farm. Take one class or several—it’s up to you!

View Courses →

Text us at (218) 230-2210 or call (800) 959-6282

A workforce solution

Build a better workforce.

Northland Competency-Based Education courses are the perfect solution for employers looking to train their workforce. No wasted time, money, or effort. Our competency-based programs are designed by experienced faculty with industry experts to ensure that your employees gain relevant skills to stand out in the workplace and move forward in their careers.

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Text us at (218) 230-2210 or call (800) 959-6282

Frequently Asked Questions

In case you missed anything.

What is Competency-Based Education?

Northland Competency-Based Education means you progress by demonstrating knowledge of a subject in a flexible learning environment with access to our instructors and labs. It offers a student-driven way to complete your Northland degree vs. the traditional course-based experience.

What are competencies?

Competencies are skills, knowledge, and abilities that students use to demonstrate their progress. Like all of our career and technical degrees and certificates, a series of competencies are identified that students need to be successful in their careers.

How long will it take me to complete my program?

Northland Competency-Based Education is a custom-paced learning experience – that means that you can learn at the pace that is right for you. With no set weekly deadlines, you can speed up or slow down as your time or knowledge allows. Time to completion therefore varies for each student, based on their available time, experience, and personal goals - your Enrollment Adviser can give you an idea of how long a specific program may take you.

Text us at (218) 230-2210 or call (800) 959-6282


Take the next step!

See how Northland Competency-Based Education may be a good fit for you, and start the application process today.

Request Information

Fill out the form, and we will contact you to provide information about furthering your education.

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Contact one of our enrollment advisers today to learn more about how you can fit college into your busy life and earn your degree or certificate.


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