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

Additional Resources

Stack As You Go

INCREMENTAL CREDENTIALING FRAMEWORK APPROACHES

Stack As You Go

Strategies

  • 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.

Examples

  • 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.
  • Recognizes learning already acquired.

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