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Tally of Credentials in U.S. Education Reaches Nearly 1 Million

According to a new count from Credential Engine, students seeking education credentials in the United States have 967,734 options to choose from. In "Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials," the national nonprofit identified degrees, certificates, certifications, licenses, apprenticeships, badges and more in an effort to promote transparency in the credential marketplace.

The report counted unique credentials across four types of providers:

  • Postsecondary education institutions (which offer 359,713 different degrees and certificates);
  • Massive open online course providers (9,390 course completion certificates, micro-credentials and online degrees);
  • Non-academic providers (549,712 badges, course completion certificates, licenses, certifications and apprenticeships); and
  • Secondary schools (48,919 diplomas).

"We need more stakeholders to be involved in creating credential transparency so that the one million credentials available in the U.S. can be better understood, aligned with other data systems, and used in decision making by all," the report emphasized. Some of the next steps it outlined include determining how credentialing practices overlap, how certificates can stack to further certificates and degrees, how badges are utilized to represent credentials, and what specific competencies credentials aim to convey.

"Employers and workers are scrambling after the economy faced unexpected and painful roadblocks amid a global pandemic," said Scott Cheney, CEO of Credential Engine, in a statement. "They shouldn't have to guess which skills and credentials meet their needs — particularly with the proliferation of new options in this new normal. Painting a clear picture of the credential landscape is a critical first step in helping illuminate effective pathways back to economic security."

The full report is available on the Credential Engine site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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