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

Participant Profile


Houston Community College



Houston, Texas



Implementation stage & efforts to date Design stage 

  • Pathway efforts for learners 
  • Prior learning assessment developments
  • Data collection to incorporate non-degree data into campus and/or state data systems
  • Participating in projects addressing alternative credentialing 
  • Participating in efforts to embed industry certification  into traditional degree program
Goals for 


  • Interested in sharing our best practices and collaborating with postsecondary institutions around the nation. 
  • Work focuses on initiative “Leveraging Industry Credentials to Drive Quality Equity and Completion.” Identified criteria to determine the value of credentials (certifications, licenses,  certificates). Focus is to bring transparency to all learners that all credentials are not created equal. Have started the process of meeting with  Student Services Departments to highlight in-demand certifications/licenses that can lead to higher wage careers. 
  • In 2021, with assistance of the Office of Institutional Research, demographic information was provided for students who are required to sit for licensure/certification exams after completing a program. This allowed programs to be able to identify gender and race equity gaps. This information is also now officially published in the HCC Vitality report. HCC uses the Program Vitality Report to create a glance of the performance of all of its workforce programs and awards offered by each. The report covers a span of 5 years as well as latest information available for this academic year. This year’s report provides a breakdown of all program specific degrees and  certificates as well as information regarding the latest labor market data for the program. 

Associated Case Studies

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes