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How a deployed Air Force Captain graduated with a master’s in 10 days



Air Force airman Christopher Shaheen graduated from Western Governors University on January 10, 2022, 10 days after he started classes there on January 1, 2022. He earned a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. When he graduated, it was the fastest case of someone getting a non-honorary Master’s Degree from a regionally accredited university.

He finished the curriculum quickly, which made me wonder how this was possible. The answer is partly because of the way WGU is set up. The university uses a “competency-based” model in which students decide how quickly they work through class material and how many credits they get based on how well they do. To get credit for a course, you don’t need to meet with a teacher or a class on a regular basis. As a result, the teacher-student interaction changes, with extra resources like videos and software being used to help students learn. The recommended speed-up time for this degree is 12 months, but 68 percent of students finish in 18 months. During 10 days, Chris Shaheen earned a degree in the shortest amount of time possible.

In order to do this, he had to do a lot of work at once. He had to work on multiple projects at the same time, submit assignments quickly, and pass all of his exams on the first try. A big part of his ability to do this, especially in Management and Leadership, was the knowledge he already had when he started the class. His unique experience as an Officer, especially with a job working on the business side of the military in the Contracting career field, made it seem like he was ready to do well on his long-term degree plan. A Captain in the Air Force named Chris Shaheen, 28, has been deployed with the 435 Air Expeditionary Wing. He has a job title called Chief of the Contracting Office, and he is on the ground. The 435th AEW is the only U.S. Air Force wing that is stationed in different parts of Africa.

His speed also affected how much money he had to pay for college. Because WGU charges by the term, his decision to go fast-track meant that his whole Master’s degree cost just over $4,000. This is the most affordable way to get a Master’s degree from a non-profit, regionally accredited college that charges by the term. Speed isn’t always the best way to judge someone’s education, but Captain Shaheen’s achievement shows that speed can pay off and shows how quickly someone can show they have a Master’s level of knowledge in the classroom.


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