Moving from a Degree-Centric Postsecondary System to an Incremental Credentialing System: What Happens to Learners’ Financing Options?

Incremental Credentialing Framework

An Incremental Credentialing Framework was developed through an 18-month planning, research, and testing project supported in 2019-2021 through a Lumina Foundation grant: Credential As You Go, Phase One.

The Incremental Credentialing Framework was developed from the results of the environmental scan, prototyping, and feedback from national leaders which took place during the Credential As You Go: Phase One initiative. The Framework provides six strategies of credentialing that can be used to design incremental credentials. Further work on the Framework during Phase Two will include strategies, tools, and resources to develop incremental credentials across all sectors. The Framework also includes auto-awarding of credentials to reduce the additional step students typically go through to “apply” for a credential or graduation.

The current version has a higher education focus, but will be expanded as the work continues to provide for learner and employer perspectives.

  • Learn As You Go: Incremental credentials stand on their own, unconnected to a degree, but prepare individuals for up-skilling, re-skilling, or developing new skills in specific workplace areas.
  • Add On As You Go: Incremental credentials are obtained for specializations that add onto a degree pathway, but may not necessarily be planning in the pathway.
  • Stack As You Go: Incremental credentials add together or stack into larger credentials and degrees, and are planned into credentialing pathways.
  • Transfer As You Go: Incremental credentials are built to transfer across institutions and are a potential cost-sharing mechanism (students cross-register to another institution to pick up a specialty that the home institution does not offer).
  • Partner As You Go: Incremental credentials prepare for and include field-expected credentials for work, as well as work-related credentials that are accepted into degree or other credentialing pathways, developed in conjunction with business/industry partner(s).
  • Retro As You Go: Incremental credentials are awarded for learning already acquired but not yet credentialed.

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes