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Air Force Captain Achieves Master’s Degree in 10 days – How a deployed military officer graduated in world record time

On January 10, 2022, Chris Shaheen graduated from Western Governors University with a Master’s of Science in Management and Leadership, 10 days after his enrollment began on January 1, 2022. His graduation is the fastest recorded instance of someone achieving a non-honorary Master’s Degree from a regionally accredited University.

The speed that Chris Shaheen completed the program invites the question of how this was possible. The answer partially lies in the unique structure of WGU. The university uses a “competency-based” model, where the students decide how quickly to work through the course material, and credits are awarded based on demonstrated competencies. No regular sessions with a teacher or a class are required to acquire course credits. As a result, teacher-student interaction varies, with instruction supplemented by additional resources like videos and software. The recommended acceleration schedule for this degree is 12 months, with 68% finishing in the 18 months. At 10 days, Chris Shaheen completed the degree in the theoretical minimum amount of time possible.

In order to do this, he had to take on a tremendous amount of work all at the once, working on multiple projects simultaneously, submitting assignments in quick succession and passing all of his exams on the first try. The foundation for his ability to do this, particularly in Management and Leadership, was the knowledge he entered the program with. His unique experience as an Officer, especially with a job working within the business side of the military in the Contracting career field, seemingly equipped him perfectly to ace his ambitious degree plan. Chris Shaheen, 28, is a Captain in the Air Force, currently deployed with a positional title of Chief of the Contracting Office for the 435 Air Expeditionary Wing. The 435th AEW is the U.S. Air Force’s only wing deployed to various locations in Africa.

His speed also impacted the amount his degree cost. Since WGU charges by the term, his decision to fast-track meant his whole degree cost just over four thousand dollars, making this the most affordable option for getting a Master’s degree from a non-profit, regionally accredited college. Although speed is not often the best metric for judging someone’s education, Captain Shaheen’s achievement shows how accelerating can pay off, and sets a benchmark in how quickly someone can demonstrate a Master’s level of knowledge in the academic environment.


Western Governors University Media Contact: leslie.reed@wgu.edu

Air Force Public Affairs: 435aew.435aewpa.publicaffairs@us.af.mil

Chris Shaheen’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chris.shaheen/

Captain Shaheen narrating a Basic Training Ceremony @13:30: https://fb.watch/aB9AR6ZueF/

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