Capella University was founded in 1993 to serve adults who wanted access to high-quality higher education to maximize their personal and professional potential. In the early 2000s, to better serve its mission, Capella extended its online education focus and begin offering competency-based curriculum. Already a leader in online, adult-serving higher education, Capella responded to the external pressures of access and completion, affordability, and filling the gap between employers' hiring needs and satisfaction with recent graduates. The response was the development of FlexPath, a competency-based education and direct assessment option to pursue a degree that signifies clear demonstration of professionally relevant competencies. In 2013 FlexPath was the first direct assessment option to receive approval by a regional accreditor (the Higher Learning Commission) and the Department of Education for federal financial aid eligibility at the bachelor's and master's levels.

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