How to Choose a Microcredential (U.S. News & World Report)

March 21, 2024

Microcredentials – sometimes referred to as non-degree or short-term credentials – have grown in popularity, raising many questions about their worth.

In the U.S., the public has more familiarity with degrees than short-term credentials, says Marni Baker Stein, chief content officer at Coursera, an open online course provider.

“There’s a lot of information about short-form credentials out there on the internet that people can search for,” she says. “But one has to really make sure that you are reaching out to a trusted source because there’s so much misinformation out there around certificates and their value.”

Here’s what to consider before pursuing these credentials.

What Are Microcredentials?

The definition of microcredentials isn’t always clear, experts say. Generally, they are offered by schools, education companies and professional organizations and may be for credit or not for credit.

A microcredential “can be part of a degree program, like a stepping stone or a milestone within a degree program, or it can be completely untethered from what we consider academic credit courses or degree-seeking behavior,” says Julie Uranis, senior vice president of online and strategic initiatives at UPCEA, an online and professional education association based in Washington, D.C.

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