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

Participant Profile


Metropolitan State University of Denver



Public University, Undergraduate and Graduate Institution


Denver, Colorado (Auraria Campus)



Implementation stage & efforts to date

There are both credit-based and non-credit based micro-credential efforts underway at the university. The Curriculum, Academic Effectiveness, and Policy Development (CAEPD) Office oversees micro-credentials that include academic credit components. The Innovative and Lifelong Learning (I&LL) Office oversees micro-credentials that do not include academic credit components.


  • I&LL continues to confer micro-credentials for various programs as they have for the last several years
  • University-wide policy enacted 2022 to oversee micro-credentials and digital badging
    • Process to create new micro-credentials implemented as defined by the policy in 2022
    • Procedures put in place for proposing new micro-credentials using existing curriculum and catalog software programs
    • Shared governance approach that includes faculty and administrative staff
  • More than 10 badges created and implemented through system as of May 2023

Digital Badging

  • I&LL begins offering digital badges upon completion of non-credit component micro-credentials in 2019
  • CAEPD begins offering digital badges upon completion of academic credit component micro-credentials in 2022
  • Digital Badging Bulletin created and available for public view beginning in 2023
  • Implemented software programs to track and award digital badge progress in both I&LL and CAEPD

Future Efforts for University

  • Variety of high-impact micro-credential opportunities in both academic and non-academic credit options
  • Additional customized options available through I&LL
  • Continue to find ways for learners to come into and exit from a range of points in their educational journey


Goals for participation

  • Learn what other participating organizations have discovered as high impact or valuable practices
  • Create flexible and desirable “on and off ramps” for students to engage with in their academic journey
  • Allow for students to stack together micro-credential opportunities into larger programs that scaffold learning
  • Meet a diverse set of learner needs that respond to local industry/government/employer workforce demands
  • Build pipelines and pathways to higher credentials and degrees at MSU Denver
  • Provide greater career mobility for learners
  • Close the skills gap – the space between the skills employers need and what new employees are showing up with

Associated Case Studies

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes