Studio Learning provides community and resources to individuals who want to earn a college degree while continuing to earn money at their job. Here’s how the program works.

Once you enroll, you’ll set up a learning plan with your coach that includes some time spent at Studio Learning headquarters at the Hillman City Collaboratory. There, you’ll work on your learning projects, meet with your coach, grab a bite to eat, and socialize with other people in our community. Depending on how busy your calendar is, you may wish to commit to a schedule of working on your learning projects at home, too.

We partner with College for America, the gold standard in online degree programs. There are no grades, no lectures, and no exams at CfA. To earn a degree, students need to demonstrate mastery of 120 “competencies.” These are things like “Can give and receive feedback” and “Can formulate a search and access needed information effectively and efficiently.”

The competencies are bundled into 20 “goals,” which have titles like “Plan for Success” and “Build Teamwork Through Marketing.”

The way students tackle these goals—and, therefore, demonstrate mastery of the 120 competencies—is by completing projects. Students have the option to do one major project and knock out all the competencies tied to a goal, or they can complete three or four smaller projects that, when you add them all up, meet all the competencies tied to a goal.

Now, just so there is no misunderstanding, please understand that the curriculum is hard. Students complete projects and upload their work to an evaluator, who is a professional educator with an advanced degree in a relevant field. The evaluator will then give you feedback on your work and, most likely, send it back to you for revisions. Student work must be good enough to earn an “A” before it is accepted. CfA students typically have to submit project work two or three times before it’s done.

Everything in the curriculum has been designed in collaboration with over 100 major companies to help you get promoted at your job. Unlike many people’s experience in traditional schooling, you’ll never wonder, Why am I learning this? In fact, 96 percent of CfA students said they would recommend the college to friends and family.

You’ll do the work. The Studio Learning community will be with you every step of the way.

Our Four-Point Promise:

1. We will provide life coaching services to help you complete a college degree with the goal of zero student loan debt.

2. We will help you find your passion, and provide job placement services to get you on a career path doing work that fills your wallet and feeds your soul.

3. We will connect you with financial planning workshops so you can be a smart investor of your money.

4. We will provide a supportive community of people with the same goals as you, along with an array of interesting intellectual opportunities that form an important part of the college experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is this program for?
A: This program is designed for students who like learning but don’t like the traditional way students are taught in school: lectures, exams, and grades. We work with high school graduates who see value in having a mentor to stick with them over the next several years and guide them through the transition into a successful future.

Q: What does the program cost?
A: Tuition is $5,500 per year, which covers both the cost of college and the coaching services. However, if you are from a low-income family, there is a good chance that you will be eligible for federal Pell Grants, which could cover the full cost. In addition, many employers provide tuition reimbursement programs for their employees. For many students, the program is free.

Q: How is this different from a more traditional college path?
A: More than half of all students who enroll in traditional colleges do not graduate. Most students need to borrow money to pay tuition, leaving school with an average of $25,000 in debt. Studio Learning provides intensive one-on-one mentorship to help you stay on track. We help personalize your college experience with the goal of zero student debt.

Q: What is College for America?
A: College for America is an online learning program developed by Southern New Hampshire University. SNHU is a fully accredited, 83-year-old, nonprofit university, with a traditional four-year college campus in Manchester, NH and one of the country’s largest online universities. In all, the university serves more than 50,000 students.

Q: How does the College for America program work?
A: There are no grades at College for America. Work comes in the form of project-based learning—not lectures and exams. Students’ projects are evaluated by professional educators with an advanced degree in a relevant field. Projects are returned to students within 48 hours, with detailed feedback. If students’ work doesn’t show mastery of the competencies included in that project, they can tackle it again—with help from academic resources, fellow students, or a dedicated College for America Learning Coach. In developing the program, the university partnered with more than 100 major employers to ensure the curriculum helps students learn skills that will be relevant on the job.

Q: Without grades or exams, how do students earn college credit?
A: Each degree program is broken down into 20 goals, which contain between 5-8 competencies each. One example of a competency is, “Can analyze a problem and present recommendations in writing.” Another example: “Can use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.” After demonstrating mastery—the equivalent of earning an A in a traditional college course—of each group of competencies, students achieve a “goal” and earn real college credits. Twenty goals and 120 competencies later, the student is awarded a degree and diploma from Southern New Hampshire University.

Q: Where did the name “Studio Learning” come from?
A: A studio is a place where good, creative things are invented, born, and built. It can be a place for working quietly and alone, but also in partnership or on a team. It is a place carefully prepared and set aside for productivity and creation. Etymologically, the common root for the word “studio” also evokes study, studiousness, a specific intent to learn.