Improving Education and Employment Outcomes For All Learners

Moving to a nationally adopted incremental credentialing ecosystem that improves education and employment outcomes through an array of credentials, including degrees, that document what learners know and can do  

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Credential As You Go

The Credential As You Go initiative is rethinking the credentialing model in the United States by examining how learners could gain quality credentials as they move through higher education, rather than the current four-tiered degree system.  

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2023 Cohort Selected

In 2023, 28 additional organizations joined Credential As You Go, doubling the numbers of organizations working to design and implement incremental credentials.  

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Our Research

Research is a key component of the Credential As You Go initiative. The purpose of the research component is to assess the promise of system- and institution-level policies and processes as they translate into implementation of incremental credentials to further targeted, meaningful postsecondary learner outcomes.  

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The Current State of Credentialing

Degree-centric Postsecondary System

Equity Imperative

Emerging Workforce Skills Agenda

Degree-centric Postsecondary System

Our current system does not recognize partial degrees, leaving many Americans without formal recognition of their knowledge and skills.

Current system emphasizes 4 DEGREE TYPES: associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate / professional

There are 39 MILLION with some college/no credential – up from 36 million – 1 in 6 adults

National Student Clearinghouse, 2022

With NO CREDENTIAL, people lack recognition of learning – hindering employment and further education

Equity Imperative

Credentialing is an equity issue.

Less than 30% OF DEGREES are awarded to people of color

U.S. Census, 2021

Among Black adults, 18% have some college/no degree – the HIGHEST PERCENT of all groups

U.S. Census, 2021

Black learners carry the HIGHEST DEBT LOAD across population groups

Hanson, 2020

Across all groups, LatinX have the LARGEST PROPORTION of adults – 57% – with no college experience

U.S. Census, 2021

Rapid Credential Expansion

The U.S. credential landscape is increasingly confusing and chaotic.

There are 967,734 DISCRETE CREDENTIALS in the U.S.

Credential Engine, 2021

There are 970+ COMPETENCY/SKILLS FRAMEWORKS captured in the Credential Engine database

Credential Engine, 2021


Credential Engine, 2021

The number of OPEN BADGES AWARDED 2018 to 2020 nearly doubled – from 24 million to 43 million

Gallagher, 2021

Emerging Workforce Skills Agenda

Employers increasingly need signals of skills.

59% of employers identified UPSKILLING AND RESKILLING as top priority

Sumtotal, 2021

55% – 59% of employers report TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY SKILLS are most important when hiring

Advance CTE, 2021

Employers report REDUCING DEGREE REQUIREMENTS for middle-skill (46%) and high-skill (31%) positions

Harvard Business Review, 2022

There are 1,057 COMPETENCY-BASED PROGRAMS across undergraduate and graduate programs in the U.S.

AIR, 2020

Moving the Needle

To transform the U.S. legacy degree system to a nationally recognized incremental credentialing system, Credential As You Go focuses on nine bodies of work


Incremental Credentialing Framework

The incremental credentialing process formally credentials learning that individuals acquire along the way so that they can be recognized for employment and further education. The six approaches provide ways to develop and implement incremental credentials.


Leadership Organizations

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes

Check out the *NEW* Credential As You Go Playbooks!