Auto-award (Automatic)


Degree audit software is an online tool that enables students and academic advisors at higher education institutions to assess progress toward graduation. It aligns a student’s in-progress and completed course work with the requirements of their degree program.

With the advent of degree audit software, the software can be used to audit coursework students have completed, and automatically award degrees and certificates if they have completed the required coursework. This is practiced as a method for increasing degree and certificate completion.

Degree programs each have their own requirements and prerequisites. Students usually need help navigating their degree or certificate pathways, and seek guidance from advisors or registrars. These manual systems can be slow, and degree audit software can make this process more efficient. It can help students stay on track to graduate, and then auto-awarding degrees or certificates can get students their much desired degrees or certificates quickly to make completion efficient.

Digital credentialing software also operates in the backend of the learning ecosystem and awards credentials to learners for activities in other systems (outside academia). These credentials are often displayed in other learning systems—such as the LMS or LXP—or on social media sites like LinkedIn. The digital credentialing software is heavily reliant on data from other systems to award credentials. Credentials may be awarded automatically via a technical integration with one of the systems that holds the data (Credly, for example, offers services around technical integrations). This can also occur manually—when someone involved in the final stages of a process reviews the data or observes the learner decides whether or not to award a credential.

Ecosystem Relationship

Auto awarding degrees, certificates or other credentials is a component of providing and verifying credentials, providing credentials, and recordkeeping. It connects with databases and standards.


  • uAchieve Degree Audit: The uAchieve Degree Discovery™ service provides opportunities for degree awards across all students and program offerings. Degree Discovery works to find awards students may have attained that might be otherwise unknown. In one semester, Saddleback College increased its Associate Degree completions by 52 percent through auto-awarding.
  • Initiative advocating for auto-award: The Incremental Credential Framework developed through a 2019-2021 planning, research, and testing project in a Lumina Foundation grant to SUNY Empire State College (Credential As You Go, Phase I). The Framework was developed from an environmental scan, prototyping, and feedback from national leaders. The Framework includes six approaches of credentialing that can be used to design incremental credentials and auto-awarding of credentials to reduce the additional step students typically go through to apply for a credential or graduation, plus a focus on prior learning assessment.
  • Credentials may be awarded automatically via a technical integration with one of the systems that holds the data. Credly has a tool that focuses on Integration: The process automates the issuing of digital credentials via Credly based on Pathway completion within Degreed’s platform. Pathways can include assessment completion, course completion, and other criteria. Learners are notified via email by Credly when they’ve been issued a digital credential. They can import verified digital credentials from Credly into an individual earners’ Degreed profile.

Alternative Terminology

  • Technical Integration



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