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More Than 90 Percent of Institutions Offer Alternative Credentials

The same study to report this statistic also found that millennial students prefer badging and certificates to traditional degrees.

Millennial students seem to prefer badging and certificate programs to traditional bachelor’s degrees, according to a new study from University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), Pennsylvania State University and Pearson that explored the role that alternative credentials play in higher education.

Demographic Shifts in Educational Demand and the Rise of Alternative Credentials” includes responses from 190 institutions, including community colleges (11 percent), baccalaureate colleges (12 percent), master’s colleges or universities (27 percent) and doctorate-granting universities (50 percent). Of the 190 institutions surveyed, 61 percent were public entities. Across the board, research revealed that programs offering alternative credentialing have become widespread in higher education, with 94 percent of the institutions reporting they offer alternative credentials. Alternative credentials can take the form of digital badges, certificates and micro-credentials.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • One in five institutions offer digital badges, with baccalaureate colleges (26 percent) and public institutions (23 percent) most likely to be the ones offering badges;
  • Digital badges are usually offered in business-related domains; and
  • 64 percent of respondents agreed that their institution sees alternative credentialing as an important strategy for its future.

The study was conducted by Jim Fong, director of UPCEA’s Center for Research Marketing Strategy; Kyle Peck, director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning and a professor at Penn State; and Peter Janzow, senior director of business development at Pearson’s Acclaim.

“The degree will always be an important credential, but it won’t always be the gold standard,” said Fong in a prepared statement. “As millennials enter the prime years of their career and move into positions of greater power, we’ll see more alternative credentials for specific industries and possibly across the board. Higher education institutions, especially those in our survey, are showing that they are being progressive with workforce needs.”

An infographic of the report’s information is on the Pearson site and the full report is available on the UPCEA site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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