Alternative and Non-Degree Credentials

Developing and offering alternative and non-degree credentials (certificates, micro-credentials, digital badges and non-credit programs) has become a new priority in professional, continuing and online education. Leaders charged with with entrepreneurial initiatives, stakeholder engagement, faculty and learner experiences, digital technology and more have a professional home in UPCEA.

UPCEA is leading the way with focused initiatives centered around new credential innovation with research, peer-led sessions and resources for today’s leaders.

Accent Dots Blue Orange

News & Events

Conferences, Seminars, Webinars

From our major annual conference, leadership, marketing and regional events to topical webinars and coffee chats, UPCEA offers unparalleled networking, presentation and learning opportunities for all areas of professional, continuing, and online education.

Major UPCEA Events include:

  • Summit for Online Leadership and Administration (SOLA+R)
  • UPCEA Annual Conference
  • Regions Week
  • MEMS: Marketing, Enrollment Management, Student Success

Alternative Credentials Track at UPCEA Annual Conference

Each of UPCEA’s seven professional Networks include a Vice Chair for Non-Credit. In concert with UPCEA’s Chief Learning Officer and Annual Conference Advisory Committee, these member volunteers curate a track at UPCEA’s Annual Conference with content focused on new and alternative credentials.

badging alt cred blue
Accent Dots Blue Orange

UPCEA Members - Get Involved!

NEW! The Council for Credential Innovation

The Council for Credential Innovation is the body for senior leaders charged with driving non-degree credential strategy at the unit or campus level, and key thought leaders from other nonprofit organizations and select companies that are active in the alternative credential space. The Council and its leadership are focused on leveraging the strategic potential of non-degree credentials and non-credit education and training to transform institutions of higher education as well as the talent marketplace.

Each UPCEA member institution has the opportunity to identify a representative to the Council for Credential Innovation — a campus leader when it comes to thinking beyond degree programs and credit hours, whether at the unit, college, or institutional level. Institutional representatives are able to attend the invite-only events and participate in other exclusive content hosted by Council for Credential Innovation. In addition, select nonprofit partners and corporate partners engaged in alternative credentials are invited to identify one individual to participate in the Council. If you would like to update or add your institution's representative to the Council, email [email protected].

Join the New Alternative Credentials Network

The mission of the Alternative Credentials Network is to share best practices and emerging trends related to non-degree or non-credit credentials, sometimes considered alternative credentials by postsecondary leaders. This is done through the exchange of ideas, programs, services, and initiatives that expand member knowledge regarding new, innovative, and entrepreneurial programs to serve the needs of diverse learners.

The Network represents postsecondary professionals that work within externally focused professional, continuing and online (PCO) divisions and units at post-secondary institutions. Network members are increasingly valued at their institutions as they are at the forefront of an emerging field identified for investment and expansion by many c-suite leaders.

Accent Dots Blue Orange

Resources and Publications

UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Credential Innovation

A practical toolkit to assist those in PCO education think systematically about the nature of credentials at their institution as well as the strategy and logistical components of supporting learners throughout their lifetimes. These Hallmarks focus on alternative credentials, which includes certificates, micro-credentials, digital badges, and non-credit programs, signaling specific competencies, certification, and sometimes licensure.

Shifting Paradigms: Understanding Institutional Perspectives on Microcredentialing Study

92% of Higher Education Leaders Say Microcredentials Support Institutional Competitiveness

The report showcases the perspectives of a wide range of college and university leaders on the opportunities and challenges associated with scaling and launching alternative credentialing initiatives.

“The new economy demands highly-skilled individuals who do not necessarily need degrees to enter or advance in their field. Microcredentials and other alternative credential options provide them the opportunity to achieve their goals, and as an industry we need to find ways to meet the needs of employers and adults—and especially of Millennial and Generation Z students.” - Jim Fong, Chief Research Officer and Director of the Center for Research and Strategy at UPCEA

Non-Credit to Credit Pathways to Higher Education: UPCEA Member Survey Results

North American colleges and universities are beginning to recognize the value of non-credit to credit pathways, according to new research by UPCEA in partnership with MindEdge Learning. But most of these institutions have yet to implement these nontraditional avenues to a college degree.

Non-credit to credit pathways translate non-credit achievements – such as professional certifications or licenses, prior learning assessments, faculty reviews, and military service – into credit toward a degree or credential.

With college enrollments dropping, along with public confidence in the value of a college education, non-credit to credit pathways allow students the flexibility to keep their education options open to match their lifestyle.

UNBOUND

UNBOUND is UPCEA’s e-publication in magazine format, designed to showcase thought leadership, case studies, research and other valuable contributions to the field. UNBOUND welcomes articles from all those who are involved in higher education, especially those who work with adult students.

RSS Alternative Credentialing articles from Unbound

  • Prior Learning Assessment: Necessary Burden or Future-Proofing Strategy?
    In less than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the world of work look dramatically different. Millions of jobs have been erased, automation has accelerated, and several sectors have contracted while others are booming. Millions of laid-off workers will need additional education and training to land new jobs, and they need it to be […]
  • Credentials Unbound
    For more than a millennium, universities have awarded degrees to their graduates in much the same form as America’s academic institutions do today. Through their durability and credibility, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees have been remarkably resilient in their relevance and power to convey academic accomplishment. Universities have long prepared students for the workforce and […]
  • Preface to Special Topic Section: Recent Perspectives on Credentialing Innovation
    Within higher education—and beyond—there is tremendous and growing interest in innovation in educational credentialing. In the job market, educational credentials are more valuable than ever, and new microcredential offerings are diversifying a landscape long dominated by traditional degrees. Online education is the fastest growing segment of the higher education market, with more learners pursuing online […]

RSS Credentialing Innovation articles from Unbound

  • Preface to Special Topic Section: Recent Perspectives on Credentialing Innovation
    Within higher education—and beyond—there is tremendous and growing interest in innovation in educational credentialing. In the job market, educational credentials are more valuable than ever, and new microcredential offerings are diversifying a landscape long dominated by traditional degrees. Online education is the fastest growing segment of the higher education market, with more learners pursuing online […]
  • Success at Scale: The growth of large-scale online programs
    In an era when many colleges and universities struggle to meet their enrollment targets, a few institutions have leapfrogged over that calculus by adding large online programs that quickly enroll hundreds—or sometimes thousands—of new students. That kind of success warrants a closer look.   Toggle a few variables on a website at the Georgia Institute […]
  • Meeting Changing Workforce Demands through Innovative Professional Pathways at NYUSPS
    The NYU School of Professional Studies is a leader in professionally focused education. For nearly 85 years, the School has partnered with industry to develop programs of study that meet the needs of the workforce in New York City and beyond. The School’s success is based upon its ability to evolve and to develop educational […]
Accent Dots Blue Orange

Become an UPCEA Member

UPCEA members get more...

  • Access to useful research
  • Networking opportunities
  • Real time advice, answers and ideas
  • Exclusive member content

UPCEA has the knowledge and resources colleges and universities need to serve adult learners, online learners and contemporary students.

Accent Dots Blue Orange

Contact Us!

To learn more about how UPCEA can help you and your organization navigate the vastly changing landscape of online, professional and continuing education please complete this form or email us at [email protected]

Fill out my online form.