UPCEA Launches Alternative Credentials Community to Advance Quality Standards, Policy, Best Practices

September 27, 2021

Dedicated resources include benchmarking research, peer learnings and networking via new Council for Credential Innovation and Alternative Credentials Network

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES, September 27, 2021 — The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) today launched its Council for Credential Innovation and Alternative Credentials Network, providing dedicated resources to advance quality standards, policy and best practices for the rapidly developing field of alternative and non-degree credentials.

“Our research indicates that embracing alternative credentials is the way forward for many institutions,” said Robert Hansen, chief executive officer of UPCEA. “The mission of our new alternative credentials community is to engage academic leaders, practitioners and other non-degree credential stakeholders in the development of strategies that address the needs of today’s learner and the labor market.”


The new Council for Credential Innovation and Alternative Credentials Network are now open to eligible and prospective members. Together, these new bodies will form a community that is grounded in research, guided by leading practitioners, and informed by UPCEA’s 100-plus-year history of serving adult and nontraditional learners with credit and noncredit programs.

The Council for Credential Innovation is comprised of senior leaders charged with driving non-degree credential strategy at the unit or campus level, and key thought leaders from other nonprofit organizations and companies that are actively contributing to the development of the alternative credential space. Each UPCEA member institution has the opportunity to identify a representative to the Council for Credential Innovation. Select nonprofit partners and corporate partners engaged in alternative credentials will also have an opportunity to participate.

The Alternative Credentials Network will focus on sharing best practices and emerging trends related to non-degree or non-credit credentials. As with UPCEA’s seven existing professional affinity Networks, participation in the Alternative Credentials Network is open to all UPCEA members.

All members of the Council and the Network will have access to UPCEA’s CORe community platform, where more than 10,000 UPCEA members connect for advice and discussions. This will extend the reach of lessons learned and best practices, which will help accelerate the development of the knowledge base for credential innovation. Information on how to join the Alternative Credentials Network and eligibility for participation on the Council for Credential Innovation can be found here:

“It’s the perfect time to harness the shared knowledge and experience of alternative credential professionals,” said Jenni Murphy, Ed.D., Dean at Sacramento State’s College of Continuing Education. “By creating this hub for stakeholders, UPCEA is leading the way toward meaningful credential innovation, with focused initiatives, research, peer-led sessions and other resources for today’s leaders.”


UPCEA is integrating alternative credentials content across its in-person and virtual events, including an Alternative Credentials track at the 2022 UPCEA Annual Conference (April 11-14, 2022, in Orlando, FL) as well as a dedicated conference to be scheduled during the next academic year.


Members have access to the UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Credential Innovation, a practical toolkit to assist those in PCO Education to think systematically about the nature of credentials at their institution as well as the strategy and logistical components of supporting learners throughout their lifetimes.


Members also have access to UPCEA’s latest original research on alternative credentials, including two highly relevant reports: “Shifting Paradigms: Understanding Institutional Perspectives on Microcredentialing Study” and “Non-Credit to Credit Pathways to Higher Education: UPCEA Member Survey.”

Learn more about UPCEA membership benefits, opportunities and current members at


UPCEA is the association for professional, continuing and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA now serves most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. The association supports its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA builds greater awareness of the vital link between adult learners and public policy issues. Visit


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