Competency-based MBA: A better and faster option?

MBA provides greater economic mobility for women and minorities and narrows the pay gap.

By Aisyah Liliana 

Read all stories

An MBA is an internationally recognised qualification designed to develop your business and management skills. Competency-based MBA programmes give you the same knowledge and skills but allow you to develop these skills at your own pace.

Traditionally, MBA programmes will require you to enrol in a number of courses in a set sequence. You will naturally be required to complete these courses alongside your peers in the same cohort.

This means you and your peers will take classes and complete assignments together. You will also have to meet passing grades and proceed along with this pace until you graduate with an MBA.

Competency-based MBAs are simply a different way of getting the same education and qualifications as you would from a traditional MBA.

The major difference between the competency-based MBA and a traditional MBA is that you will learn and demonstrate your competency in specific advanced business administration skills. You will also complete specific advanced business administration skills or competencies at your own pace.

In a competency-based MBA, you will use the learning resources that are given to you by the learning institution as well as combine this with the apply knowledge acquired through work, life experiences, or prior education.

While the programme is competency-based and self-paced, you will have guidance from faculty that can provide you with a customised learning plan all of which can be consumed online.

You will be expected to demonstrate your mastery of each competency through competency assessments and earn credits when you complete assessments that can take many forms, such as work-based projects, short papers, or planning documents.


A competency-based education will gear you up for real-world learning, as the assessments generally reflect the type of work that you would carry out and apply on the job.

You will be at an advantage if you already have the skills and knowledge that you acquire through work or life experience.

You will have to demonstrate and prove your mastery of all the competencies in the MBA degree programme to earn the MBA qualification.

In fact, your prior skills and knowledge will help you ace assessments with minimal preparation. This will allow you to spend more time on unfamiliar concepts and thus make your learning even more effective.

A competency-based MBA programme will generally give you more control over your learning pace as the goal of this programme is to master the skills and knowledge, rather than completing courses within a specified duration.

The programme structure itself will allow you to complete your MBA more quickly, if that is your goal. The faster you master the skills and knowledge competencies that the programme requires, the faster you graduate with an MBA. You can even complete a competency-based MBA in as quickly as six months.

Generally, competency-based MBAs can save you time and you will also spend less on this qualification given the shorter duration.

However, this programme is not for everyone, particularly if you are just starting a college course. This is because, most of these programmes will require a large number of transfer credits, particularly in general education coursework to enrol.

The competency-based MBA degree programme is ultimately a great choice if you are a self-starter and want to earn the MBA qualification as quickly as you can. Ultimately, the programme structure helps you prepare for leadership roles within your organisation, and at a faster pace.


What should you look out for in a competency-based MBA programme?

Accreditation and relevance

It is very important to make sure that the programme you enrol in is accredited by the correct accreditation and governing bodies. This will be of the utmost importance when you apply for financial assistance.

Additionally, it is important that the programme you choose develops the competencies that are specific to your career or to the one you are pursuing.

Credit transfer opportunities

The unique nature of the programme allows you to transfer credits from your prior education are programs that will cost you less in the long run.

Besides that, choose a programme that will allow you to take direct assessments for credit to demonstrate your prior knowledge and base of skills.

The onus is on you to research the programme’s policy as well as the process for transferring credits.

Support and flexibility

As these programmes are self-paced, it is important that you choose a programme that offers a high level of academic, technical, and career support.

Additionally, choose a programme that gives you the flexibility that will support your current commitments.

Value for money

Before you enrol into a competency-based MBA, pick one that is most economical and gives you the best value for money.

Some schools allow you a free look into some of the resources and assessments, which is worth it because you get to get a feel of the programme before you decide.