New Playbook: Incremental Credentialing in Graduate Education

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Incremental Credentialing Framework

Playbook Sections

Additional Resources

Partner As You Go


Partner As You Go


  • Integrate evaluated workplace learning, training, licenses, or certifications for academic recognition (e.g., credit) into an academic pathway.
  • Embed the acquisition of workplace credentials within the academic pathway in partnership with industry.
  • Integrate academically acquired credentials into workplace training and job advancement.
  • Embed prior learning into academic and employment pathways.


  • Evaluate workplace learning, training, licenses or certifications and embed within a credential pathway (e.g., manager training provided by an industry partner is evaluated; results become part of a microcredential, certificate, or degree in management).
  • Make preparation for a national certification a formal component of the outcomes for an academic credential (e.g., outcomes in an automotive program prepare learners to earn industry certifications; outcomes in a business pathway are mapped directly to the SHRM certification).
  • Gain industry approval for awarding professional certification as part of the academic programming (e.g., Cisco certifications gained within technology programs).
  • Prior learning is evaluated to meet requirements for workplace credentials (e.g., to gain certifications from the National Association of Direct Service Providers, a portfolio is developed based on work experiences).
  • Pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs developed with industry, educational institutions, and credentialing/certification bodies as an earn-and-learn model.
  • Employer-sponsored credential programs that partner with credential providers as a part of strategic assessments of future workforce needs (e.g., Google, BP, Bank of America, Chipotle, Walmart).

Things to Consider

  • Which industry partners provide training or require licenses or certifications that align with academic pathways?
  • Which industry partners require knowledge and skills that can be supported by existing or new academic pathways?
  • Map workplace knowledge and skills to academic learning outcomes within academic pathways.
  • Which industry credentials could be satisfied, at least in part, by prior learning or academic programming?

Why Use This Strategy

  • Partnerships with industries can provide a pipeline of learners into the institution and a pipeline of workers back to industry.
  • Learners needn’t repeat learning they’ve already obtained; this increases persistence and completion while decreasing costs and time to completion.
  • Learners are more marketable.
  • Many learners have educational benefits that can be used toward a program, which goes further when workplace learning is applied to academic pathways.

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