Designing Incremental Credentials

Align Credentials to the Incremental Credentialing Framework

Based on research that explored different ways credentials are being developed across the United States, the Incremental Credentialing Framework uses six approaches to develop and implement incremental credentials. The Framework’s approaches are not mutually exclusive – in fact many incremental credentials implement multiple approaches. For example, skills development that follows the “Learn As You Go” approach may also build into credentials using “Stack As You Go” approaches. 

  • Identify which Framework approach(es) best fit your credential design. Check out the links provided to learn more about each approach.
    • Is the credential focused on skills development? Learn As You Go – Incremental credentials are gained on their own for skilling, upskilling, or reskilling, and may or may not be part of a larger credential or credentialing pathway. 
    • Does the credential provide for specialization? Specialize As You Go – Incremental credentials are gained for specializations, which may be part of or add to a larger credential or credentialing pathway. 
    • Does the credential lead to additional credentials? Stack As You Go – Incremental credentials purposefully stack into other credentials, forming a credentialing pathway. These credentials can be noncredit, microcredentials, certificates, skills badges, licenses, certifications, degrees, and other types of credentials. 
    • Will the credential be transferable? Transfer As You Go – Incremental credentials are part of academic transfer pathways. These credentials may be designed to transfer to a higher level within or across institutions (e.g., noncredit to credit, associate to bachelor’s) or across the same level. This latter transfer type often is across institutions, thus increasing opportunities for learners while saving money to institutions. Through an agreement, each institution can offer to its learners opportunities at the other institution without investing resources to offer the same opportunity at the home institution. 
    • Does the credential align with workplace learning and/or industry certifications? Partner As You Go – Incremental credentials are part of an employer-education partnership. Credentials gained in the workplace are determined to be part of a pathway, and/or workplace credentials are embedded within the educational curriculum.
    • Does the credential incorporate learning that has already occurred? Retro Award As You Go – Incremental credentials are awarded retroactively for learning already acquired but not yet recognized in other credentials.
  • Determine how you will use the Framework approach(es).
    • What is the purpose of the credential(s)? 
    • What type of credential(s) will you be developing?
    • How do these new credential(s) align with the credentialing pathways?
    • How do the credential(s) align with the six Framework approaches? Remember, approaches can be combined. 
      • Which skills or competencies are involved in the credential? 
      • Will there be specializations?
      • Where do they fit within a pathway?
      • How are they connected to other programs or credentials?
      • How is prior learning recognized in the credential?
    • Which skills or competencies do you want to expand?
    • What are the outcomes you expect from the credential(s)?
      • How do the credential(s) support further education?
      • How do the credential(s) support further employment?
    • Which other related credentials could also be developed?

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes

Credential As You Go Video: Transforming the Nation's Credentialing System!