Frequently Asked CBE Questions

Are you interested in finding out more about competency-based education (CBE)? Let’s start with frequently asked questions.

  1. What is competency-based education (CBE)?
    CBE is a form of education that expedites your opportunity to earn a credential—a degree, diploma, or certificate—by giving you credit for your experiences and former educational training.

    A CBE program’s requirements are called competencies and sub-competencies. These are based on your knowledge and abilities in a field of study. You must prove you have mastered each competency or sub-competency before progressing. Hence the name ‘competency’ based education.

  2. Are all programs offered with the CBE option?
    No. Currently only Information Technology - Network Management is available with the CBE option. This degree includes multiple certificates and a diploma that all follow the CBE model.
  3. What type of student is the best candidate for CBE?
    Since CBE is based on prior learning, training, and experiences, the program best fits the adult learner who is college ready. Once SCC has received your official high school and college transcripts, industry certifications, and/or CLEP exams, SCC will be able to determine your college readiness.

    If needed, you may be required to complete a placement test, which can be scheduled through our Testing Center. If you find that you need to refresh college readiness skills, we can get you started in the traditional program. This will provide various options to assess your prior learning, such as credit-by-exam (CE).

  4. Who do I contact if I am interested in CBE?
    You should contact our CBE advisor. The advisor will discuss the various options available to you to help you develop a CBE educational path.
  5. How do I know I have mastered a competency/sub-competency in a CBE program?
    There are multiple ways you may demonstrate you mastery of each of the competencies/sub-competencies.

    First, a CBE advisor will discuss your relevant experiences and former educational training. This will take into account your military training, college/university course credits, current industry certifications, and/or your years of experience in the field.

    Second, you may need to complete a prior learning assessment to demonstrate what you know; this will determine whether or not you receive credit for the entire course of a portion of the course.

    Finally, in areas that you cannot demonstrate prior learning experiences, you will need to take the full course to master each competency/sub-competency.

  6. Is there a fee for prior learning assessments?
    Yes, there is a small fee associated with prior learning assessment. However, the fee is less than paying for one or more credit hours in a particular course. Please see our Credit-by-Exam Advanced Standing policy.
  7. What grade do I have to make to successfully earn credit for a course?
    Your academic journey is distinguished from traditional student’s in that as a CBE student you must receive 80% or greater on each competency and sub-competency associated with a particular course to demonstrate mastery.

    Mastery of all competencies and sub-competencies within a course results in successful completion of the course and the earning of college credit. However, a course will also have other assignments associated with traditional learning in that class. This means that to earn college credit for the course, you must pass the competencies and sub-competencies and finish the student learning outcomes associated with the course.

    Keep in mind that in the CBE program, you will need to achieve 80% mastery on each competency and sub-competency, not an 80 in each course. An individual CBE course will house competencies and sub-competencies, although there are, as before noted, other assignments in the course as well. While CBE allows you to earn credit for the knowledge you already possess, you must still demonstrate knowledge of the requisite learning outcomes to earn traditional college credit for a course.

  8. How are the competencies and sub-competencies aligned with courses?
    SCC developed and implemented the CBE-Information Technology – Network Management degree as a part of the NC-Completes program.

    With the support of the North Carolina Community College System and the General Assembly, participating colleges collaborated over two years to identify the appropriate competencies and sub-competencies for the Information Technology – Network Management degree based on industry standards and requirements. These colleges developed a set of expectations for each course to have consistency in determining the mastery level for each competency and sub-competency.

    Put simply, you may be expected to demonstrate the same competencies and sub-competencies in multiple courses at varying levels of mastery.

  9. What if I am proficient in some of the competencies and sub-competencies but not all for a particular course?
    In short, you are required to take a course in which some or all of the competencies and sub-competencies are not mastered.

    When you apply and take a prior learning assessment and/or present evidence of prior mastery, you receive credit for the competencies and sub-competencies assessed at 80% of greater mastery.

    Since courses are divided into modules which align with the various competencies and sub-competencies, modules therefore allow you to bypass any competencies and sub-competencies that you have already mastered. This means you can concentrate on those course modules for which you have not yet mastered the required competencies and sub-competencies.

  10. Are the CBE courses or modules offered online?
    Yes. The CBE Information Technology – Network Management degree is offered only online.

    If online is not an option, then SCC has a traditional Information Technology – Network Management degree available in a seated or hybrid format.

  11. Will the CBE program qualify for financial aid?
    Yes, the CBE Information Technology – Network Management degree qualifies as a federal financial aid supported program.

    To determine if you qualify for financial aid, you should complete the FAFSA and indicate Stanly Community College as your choice from the list of colleges.

    When selecting a program of study, make sure to select CBE Information Technology – Network Management. If there are any questions about financial aid, you can contact our Financial Aid Department at 704-991-0302 or visit our website at:

  12. Will Veterans Affairs Educational Benefits pay for the CBE program?
    Yes, the CBE Information Technology - Network Management degree qualifies for Veterans Affairs Educational Benefits.
  13. If courses are divided into modules, and if I only have to take one out of three modules, do I have to pay for the full course or just the module?
    Since the CBE program gives you credit for prior knowledge, you will pay only for any required modules.

    For example, CIS 110, Introduction to Computers, is a 3 credit hour course divided into three modules: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you only need to take the PowerPoint module, which is 1 credit hour out of the 3 credits for CIS 110, you will receive credit by exam (CE) for Word and Excel. You will then register for PowerPoint and pay for only the 1 credit hour instead of the full 3 normally required.

    As is evident from this example, the cost savings and the accelerated pace are two of the greatest advantage of participating in the CBE program.

  14. Is the CBE Information Technology - Network Management degree open to Career and College Promise high school students?
    No. Currently CBE offerings are limited to adult learners.
  15. How do I get started?

    As a new CBE student, you should follow these steps:

    Step 1: Contact our CBE advisor, Merlin Amirtharaj, who will walk you through each of the CBE steps. Include contact information.
    Step 2: Apply to SCC.
    Step 3: Meet either online or on campus with a CBE advisor to create a CBE educational plan.
    Step 4: Take any required prior learning assessments for the chosen semester courses.
    Step 5: Register for the courses or modules through the CBE advisor.
    Step 6: Successfully complete your semester courses or modules.
    Step 7: Relax and prepare for the next semester of courses!