Key Initiative

Credential As You Go

The Credential As You Go initiative focuses on building an incremental credentialing system, recognizing the value in many types of quality credentials, including degrees, certificates, industry certifications, licenses, badges, and microcredentials. All of these credentials – and others – document an individual’s learning, and they are awarded by many types of providers, including community and technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities, third-party organizations, employers, the military, and state licensing boards. 

The initiative builds on a two-year planning project funded by Lumina Foundation. That Phase 1 project, undertaken in 2018 by faculty from two- and four-year institutions in the State University System of New York, explored the feasibility of a nationally recognized, transferable, incremental credentialing system. Project faculty conducted an environmental scan of nearly 90 initiatives across 41 states designed to serve students better and capture what they know. Results indicated that some states, higher education systems, and institutions were already moving toward incremental credentialing, but in different ways. Patterns of credentialing were identified and used to inform the emerging Framework of Incremental Credentialing. From now through 2024, Phase 2 of the project will test the utility of this framework at the undergraduate and graduate levels in three states (Colorado, New York, and North Carolina). Phase 2 is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. A Phase 3 effort (2022-2023), aided by a grant from Walmart, focuses on systems change for expansion and sustainability of incremental credentials.

The Credential As You Go initiative has many components, all of which are needed to create a nationally recognized, incremental credentialing system. These include: a national campaign to build understanding and support, research to build the evidence for the new system, training and technical assistance, commitment to equity and inclusion, policy changes, and connections with related initiatives.

Partners:  SUNY Empire State College; Corporation for a Skilled Workforce; Program on Skills, Credentials & Workforce Policy at George Washington University; the states of Colorado, North Carolina, New York, and Alabama; USDOE IES; a National Advisory Board whose members represent 135 organizations. 

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