Building Capacity, Expanding Pathways: Accelerating the Growth of Credential Innovation in Higher Education - UPCEA

Last Updated: 03/12/2024

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In August 2023, UPCEA received a one-year grant from Walmart to accelerate the growth of credential innovation in higher education.  The project is founded in the recognition that non-degree credentials are a new frontier – and more two- and four-year institutions must develop and deliver skills-based, alternative credential programs that align with employer needs and high demand jobs. The project concludes on June 30, 2024.

Building Capacity, Expanding Pathways: Accelerating the Growth of Credential Innovation in Higher Educationis enabling UPCEA to facilitate the adoption of scalable business and program models for colleges and universities, based on market research tied to employer needs. The project utilizes a peer learning community to support the development and delivery of noncredit, short-term credentials. Work builds on innovations emerging around the U.S., specifically, several models emerging in the areas of non-degree credentials and credential pathways that provide workers opportunities to upskill and reskill.

The project focuses on three activities aimed to accelerate the growth of credential innovation:

  • Through national benchmarking research, identify viable and scalable credential business and program models for use by colleges and universities.
  • Form a consortium of 8-10 UPCEA member institutions that will pilot the use of these models to deeply engage local / regional businesses in the development of curriculum to upskill and/or reskill current and future employees.
    • The ten institutions selected for the pilot consortium announced in October 2023:
      • Kansas State University
      • National University
      • North Carolina A&T State University
      • Schoolcraft College
      • University of California, Davis
      • University of Maine System
      • University of North Texas
      • Vanderbilt University
      • Villanova University
      • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Disseminate a “playbook” and best practices to help scale credential innovation across the field.

UPCEA has been working in this arena for several years and this project will build in infrastructure related to alternative credentials, including:


Since its inception in 1915, UPCEA has focused on the work of professional and continuing education administrators who advance their institution’s mission by providing access and opportunities for students of all ages. Today, work focuses on today’s adult learner and on developing new audiences, programs, and means of delivery – advancing the professional field through research, professional development, networking and mentorship, conferences and seminars, and stakeholder advocacy.


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