Competency-Based Education

Take Control of Your Education

Competency-Based Education at DMACC

Competency-Based Education (CBE) is an approach to learning that focuses on mastering specific skills or "competencies" at your own pace. Instead of moving through a course based on time spent in class, you advance by demonstrating your understanding and proficiency in each subject. This means you can move faster through material you already know and spend more time on areas where you need more help. CBE allows for a more personalized learning experience, where you gain greater control over how and when you learn.


Competency-Based Education Programs at DMACC

Industrial Technician, Diploma - Online with in-person lab requirements (Ankeny Campus)

Renewable Energy Technology, AAS - Online with in-person lab requirements (Ankeny Campus)

Welding - (all locations) anticipated Fall 2025

Benefits of Competency-Based Education

The Flexibility You Need

While traditional courses require a set number of face-to-face classroom hours, CBE courses are offered in a flex-paced format, which includes a combination of online knowledge lessons and on-campus labs where you will practice and demonstrate what you have learned. We can accommodate your busy schedule to help you gain hands-on experience.

You Set the Pace

While we present you with a recommended number of hours to complete each class, you can adjust this based on your skills. Do you need more time mastering a concept? Plan for more practice time in the lab. Are you comfortable with what you learned and are prepared to be assessed? We’re ready when you are.

We're Here to Help

Our support staff will help build your schedule and provide the tools for you to succeed. For example, our pacing guides show you how to manage your time in each class. Our instructors will guide you through the labs and support your learning whether you need encouragement or additional resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

CBE classes are centered on you. With guidance from support staff, you determine the number of classes you take at any given time. While you ultimately decide what works for you, we provide you with the tools to manage your time and progress through the course content. You are in control of how much or how little time you devote to your training each week.

What you should be prepared to bring to a CBE program at DMACC?

  • Motivation to set your own schedule, manage your time, and balance your life outside of college.
  • Willingness to ask questions when you need help or don't understand something in class.
  • Basic computer skills as our classes include online content.

What services are provided to assist in my success?

  • Each class includes a pacing guide, which shows you how to allocate your time and balance your course schedule. For example, you will refer to the pacing guide to find out how much time to spend in a particular lab module or unit.
  • Your Pathway Navigator provides onboarding, academic coaching, referrals to resources, and support throughout your time at DMACC.
  • Consistent contact with instructors who offer individualized feedback on course progress.

CBE courses have multiple start dates each semester. All coursework must be completed by the end of the semester, regardless of the course start date.

In CBE, demonstrating the skills and knowledge to meet industry standards is the goal. In each class, you will earn an A (mastery), B (proficient), or F (developing).

The cost per credit is the same as a traditional program. Additional costs may include books and supplies.

Yes, students are strongly encouraged to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after Oct. 1 as possible – regardless of need. Iowa’s Last-Dollar Scholarship is available for specific programs, which will cover the cost of your tuition if all requirements are met.

You or your employer can find more information from Student Accounts. This includes the process for direct billing in the “View payment information for: Other Sources” section.

Yes. Refer to the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) process.

The application process is the same for all our programs. Apply now!

You set the schedule including the number of courses you take each semester. Your Program Navigator will help you find a time that best fits your life and keeps you on pace to complete coursework by the end of the semester. Please note that on-campus CBE courses may have limited times available


Questions? Contact us!

For Prospective Students
Erin Gauer

For Business & Community Organizations
Silas Hanneman

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Des Moines Area Community College & The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants

This workforce product is funded by a $4,999,094 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. The product was created by the recipient and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership.