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

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Incremental Credentialing Framework

Playbook Sections

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Specialize As You Go


Specialize As You Go


  • Specialized skills in a field.
  • Minor area for a degree.
  • Additional licenses, certifications, certificates, or other credentials recognized in the field.
  • Recognition of specialized prior learning.


  • Skills development for workplace advancements (e.g., HR for managers).
  • Specialized licenses, certifications, or other recognized specializations (e.g., SHRM certification).
  • Additional majors or minors for academic programs (e.g., entrepreneurship for business majors).

Things to Consider

  • What specialized areas could your programs support?
  • What skill areas do employers need to advance their employees?
  • Which formally recognized credentials exist that connect to an academic program?
  • What prior learning areas could be built into a specialization?

Why Use This Strategy

  • Gives learners additional areas for employability and/or advancement.
  • Helps learners connect their prior learning with specializations.
  • Allows learners to return and develop additional skills, often more quickly than in a full degree program (although it can connect to a degree program).

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Improving Education and Employment Outcomes