Alternative and Next-Generation Credentialing

In recent years, the higher education space has seen stunning transformation in the way we recognize and credential student learning.With the resurgence and expansion of competency-based education, we’ve seen the value both students and employers put into mastery and learning outcomes. With the expansion and success of coding bootcamps—as well as institutional non-credit offerings—we’ve come to understand that a degree is not the ultimate goal for many learners.

This Special Feature explores the new higher education reality and shares some insights into how colleges and universities can compete and succeed in today’s rich and competitive postsecondary marketplace.

The Changing Priorities of Higher Education Institutions

Innovative Credentials: Turning a Drop in the Bucket into a Transformative Tidal Wave

Innovative credentials still represent just a drop in the bucket when it comes to total dollars spent in the postsecondary space, but with greater employer recognition and participation they could be truly transformative.

Digital Badges and the Career Pathway: Understanding the Value

Digital badges provide community colleges with new ways to forge career pathways for students who are not necessarily enrolling in higher education to earn a degree, but to get a job.

Education Alternatives Offer Exciting Career Transition Opportunities for Military Veterans

By improving access to flexible, alternative postsecondary credentials, colleges and universities can make huge strides in smoothing the transition into the civilian labor market for military veterans.

How Student Demand is Transforming Credentialing

Stackable Credentials Meet the Needs of Students and Society

The number of students earning multiple credentials is already rising—colleges and universities need to do more to formalize the non-conventional pathways students are already taking to earn their degrees.

A Primer on the Present and Future of Alternative Credentials

Alternative credentials will not replace degrees but are strongly following the disruptive innovation process outlined by Clayton Christensen.

Where Are Alternative Options Moving Higher Education?

Abnormal Becoming the New Normal: CBE and Moving Beyond Standard Practice in Higher Education

and Celina Garza | Associate Vice President for Institutional Assessment, Texas State Technical College-Harlingen

The capacity to microcredential through competency-based education formats allows colleges to ensure their content remains relevant and responsive to the needs of students and the labor market.

The Path Forward for Alternative Credentialing

By making use of blockchain verification, stackable credentials can grow to meet the specific needs of today’s just-in-time, dynamic labor market.

The Value of Alternative Credentialing for Students and Institutions

The Differentiating Power of Alternative Credentials

Institutions can use microcredentials as a platform to stand out from the crowd, but their offerings must be verifiable and of the maximum quality possible in order to serve as an effective differentiator.

Resumes are Dead and Transcripts are Ailing

As the traditional college transcript and CV falls further and further out of vogue among employers, colleges and universities need to turn to more competency-focused credentials like badges to communicate their graduates’ skills to potential employers.

Assessing the Long-Term Potential for Bootcamps: How Do They Truly Stack Up?

Though alternative credentials have yet to overtake traditional degrees in value—perceived or otherwise—their focus on short-term benefits and demand responsiveness could lead to a longer-term shift in the powers of each respective credential.

Alternative Credentialing from the Community College Perspective

Normalizing Certificates and Certifications for Today’s Learners

The focus on improving student outcomes starts with ensuring that institutions are directly meeting the needs and expectations of their students. In many cases, this means moving away from the bread-and-butter degrees towards high-demand non-degree certificate and certification programming.

On Bootcamps: Community Colleges Are In A Different Category

While bootcamps provide the hard skills students need to get a job, community colleges teach those hard skills as well as the soft skills students need to get a career.

The Need for a National Certification Ecosystem


As community colleges begin to deliver a wider range of credentials, including but not limited to degrees, it’s critical that a national certification system be established to provide critical information to all key stakeholders regarding their value and potential.

Creating a New Model with Alternative Providers

Partnering with a Non-Traditional Provider: EQUIP and Experimental Education Opportunities

With students demanding more choice and employers looking for more specific credentials, colleges and universities need to work harder to ensure they’re providing alternative pathways for students to prepare themselves for the labor market.

EQUIP-ping Students for a Fruitful Career by Partnering with a Bootcamp

By taking advantage of an innovative and forward-thinking government experiment, SUNY Empire State and Flatiron School have created low-cost access to critical workforce development programming that can transfer seamlessly into a traditional degree program.

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