New Playbook: Incremental Credentialing in Graduate Education

Participant Profile


Florida Gulf Coast University



Public university


Fort Myers, Florida



Implementation stage & efforts to date

Early implementation stage 

  • Policy-setting at the state and/or  institutional  level
  • Pathway efforts for learners 
  • Prior learning assessment developments
  • Integration or restructuring efforts between noncredit and credit units
  • Data collection to incorporate non-degree data into campus and/or state data systems
  • Planning efforts to move into incremental credentialing
  • Participating in efforts to embed industry certification into traditional degree program
  • Working  with third party groups or intermediaries 
  • Launched microcredentialing and digital badges initiative to complement and increase student career and job preparation in partnership with industry leaders/ employers. The goal of the initiative is to respond to the skills gaps in an ever-changing workplace and workforce and talent development challenges in Southwest Florida by expanding credentials, relevant to the 21st century workforce, addressing issues of equity, and avoiding solely offering university programs in a degree-centric model. The  initiative brings industry partners together with FGCU faculty/staff to create innovative, co-curricular credentials designed to further prepare students, current workforce/employees, and working professionals for the future of work. Through micro-credential and digital badging programs, FGCU has placed a primary focus on workforce readiness of current students in addition to reskilling and upskilling for current professionals within the region. Students will present digital badges to prospective and current employers to provide detailed information of their skills acquisition proactively. FGCU’s Badging program includes three types of badges to meet these needs: 
  • Industry-Specific Digital Badges developed through partnerships with employers to  identify  skills that will prepare students for a particular career area and provide focused training and assessment in them. FGCU’s partnership with Arthrex to train students in the medical device industry is an example. The goal is to develop a talent pipeline between the university and regional employers.
  • Essential Employability/Transferable Skill  Digital Badges are based on the National  Association  of Colleges and Employers (NACE) competencies and assess core skills associated with liberal arts education, such as critical thinking or communication, in workplace-relevant contexts.
  • Alternative Workforce Credentials provide career-long re-skilling and upskilling opportunities to professionals already in the workforce, administered through FGCU’s Continuing Education and Skills  Academy.   Example: FGCU has partnered with IBM to offer IBM Skills Academy. Students and members of the community complete IBM-developed curriculum taught by FGCU faculty, resulting in award of  industry recognized credential.

Goals for participation

In 2020, implemented a credit for prior learning program which provides opportunities for experienced learners to meet with faculty to explore credit. As FGCU begins to offer more non-credit microcredentials, faculty proactively align student learning outcomes with  academic coursework to allow for future opportunities to stack credentials. Work will focus on exploration to include the award of credentials when students have completed the general education program or a cadre of undergraduate courses. In some cases, this may be in the form of a general education microcredential or a certificate recognized at the state and federal levels and in others, the award of an associate degree.

Associated Case Studies

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes