Smaller credentials lead to larger credentials (e.g., badges lead to microcredentials lead to certificates lead to degrees).
Bridge workforce learning and academic learning.
Transition credentials from one academic degree or industry credential to the next.
Bridge non-credit and credit learning.
Build on prior learning and link to next-level credentials.
Entry-level microcredential designed to feed into one or more associate degrees (e.g., a microcredential in basic electricity leads to an associate degree in manufacturing).
Entry-level microcredential designed to feed into associate degree and to bachelor’s degree (e.g., a microcredential in medical coding and billing leads to a health information associate degree, which leads to a bachelor’s in health information).
Incremental credential designed to transition an associate degree into a bachelor’s degree (e.g., a microcredential in basic management adds onto a technical associate degree and stacks into a business degree).
A bachelor’s degree is reorganized into multiple microcredentials that accumulate into a degree (e.g., a bachelor’s degree in business administration is redesigned into three microcredentials plus general education courses).
A graduate certificate added to a microcredential, along with a few more courses, becomes a master’s degree (e.g., a graduate certificate in urban planning, plus a microcredential in sustainable development, plus additional courses stack into a master’s in community and economic development).
Public-private partnerships between community colleges and employers to promote stackable credential pathways (e.g., Virginia community colleges and health care organizations).
Associate and bachelor’s degree programs designed for industry workers and the use of prior learning assessment (e.g., Pace University/NACTEL program)
Things to Consider
How do skills build along a pathway? What skills depend on previous skills and lead to the next level?
What academic programs or workplace training can be modularized to give learners more entry and exit points?
What are the transition points between degrees? Between industry credentials?
What skills that learners develop in the workplace can be integrated into an academic pathway? What skills gained in academic programs can be integrated into industry credentials?
How can prior learning be used in an academic or industry pathway?
Why Use This Strategy
Gives learners obtainable credentials on the way to an academic degree or industry credential.
Helps learners transition from one credential to the next.
Encourages learners to return to school or the workplace training to obtain next-level credentials.
Credential As You Go has acquired three phases of funding to date. Lumina Foundation funded Phase I, resulting in the Incremental Credential Framework for testing. The Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education funds Phase II (Grant R305T210063), which focuses on rapid prototyping of and research on incremental credentials with a national campaign. An anonymous private donor fund at the Program on Skills, Credentials & Workforce Policy at George Washington University funds the development of the prototype Learn and Work Ecosystem Library. Walmart funds Phase III, which focuses on systems change for expansion and sustainability of incremental credentials. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of Lumina Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education, Walmart, or George Washington University.