Alternative Credentials: Considerations, Guidance, and Best Practices

Last Updated: Spring 2023

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The AACRAO Alternative Credentials workgroup created a report issued July 2022 to address the what, why, who, how, where, and when of Alternative Credential usage for higher education institutions. Micro-credentials and digital badges, along with certificates, represent an area of significant rapid growth in higher education.

AACRAO established the Alternative Credentials Work Group in 2021 in response to rapidly evolving interest and movement in alternative credentials, namely microcredentials and digital badges across higher education, the country, and the globe. This interest was coupled with a current lack of guidelines and requirements for alternative credentials from accrediting bodies and other associations. The group’s charge was to provide campus guidelines and best practices for alternative credentials, primarily microcredentials and certificates. Specific considerations outlined in the charge included minimum/maximum standards for credit and non-credit based credentials; target audiences; learning outcomes; alignment with workforce or professional standards; proposal/approval protocols; budget and vendor considerations; academic record and Student Information System (SIS) impacts; assessment; and digital/open standards.

Partners: The Alternative Credentials work group was comprised of a core group of AACRAO members (11) representing diverse institutional types, positions, and geographic locations. I Industry partners from the American Council on Education (ACE), Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE), IMS Global, and University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), also shared their professional experience and expertise to assist in the creation of these best practices and workgroup report.

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