College for America Blog

New grant awarded for nation’s first competency-based certificate in nonclinical healthcare college


Posted In: Academics, CFA News

Apr • 4 • 2014

New Grant Awarded for Nation’s First Competency-Based Certificate in Nonclinical Healthcare

College for America at SNHU, Partners HealthCare join to leverage Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund Planning Grant Announced by Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday

BOSTON, MA – A new Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund Planning Grant announced by Governor Deval Patrick yesterday will fund the planning and development of the nation’s first competency-based Certificate in Nonclinical Healthcare, a project launched by the nonprofit College for America at Southern New Hampshire University and Partners HealthCare.

“Our research shows that frontline and nonclinical healthcare roles are growing in number, complexity, and prominence in the health care system—that’s why we are excited to join with a great employer like  Partners HealthCare to develop a competency-based higher education that workers can immediately apply in the workplace,” said Kristine Clerkin, Executive Director at College for America.

“With the new certificate we create, our nonclinical employees will have the opportunity to develop skills that they can immediately apply to their work. The investment we make in competency-based education will ensure that our employees have the specific skills required to effectively communicate and operate in a high-functioning medical team,” said MJ Ryan, Director of Workforce Development, Partners HealthCare.

Competency-based higher education requires students to learn and demonstrate mastery of specific competencies in order to earn a degree, rather than receiving a credential through traditional courses and credit hours. College for America, a national leader in competency-based higher education, teaches students through real-world, online projects that are designed to be applicable in the workplace, with support from individual coaches and project evaluation by professional educators. Students advance by demonstrating both what they already know and what they learn in the degree, resulting in a uniquely flexible learning environment.

The Certificate in Nonclinical Healthcare will constitute one-half of an associate of arts degree and will be available to nonclinical health care workers who are adapting to the changes in the healthcare industry. The new certificate will enroll its first class of students from Partners HealthCare and its affiliates in early 2015. It will be offered alongside College for America’s competency-based associate degrees, specifically for non-degreed employees. Tuition cost for either program is only $2,500 a year with no additional fees.

This winter, more than 40 employees from Partners HealthCare enrolled in a pilot degree program with College for America, studying to earn their Associate of Arts in General Studies with a Concentration in Business. According to a recent workforce strategy report by College for America, “Frontline and nonclinical healthcare positions such as office assistant, patient navigator, and medical record specialist are now requiring a more complex set of workplace competencies as these jobs rise in numbers and prominence in the wake of the baby boom retirement, technological advances, and the Affordable Care Act.” College for America uses labor market research and curriculum development inform the curriculum in all its degree programs.

About College for America at Southern New Hampshire University

Driven by its nonprofit mission to radicallyexpand access and improve the quality of higher education, College for America at Southern New Hampshire University partners with companies and nonprofitsnationwide to offer their employees a rigorous, competency-based college degree built on applicable projects and real-world learning instead of lectures and credit hours. For more information, visit