The Emerging World of Alternative Credentials

Digital badges. Verified certificates. Alternative credentials.

You may have noticed a trend. More and more people are finding new ways—outside of traditional postsecondary degree programs—to show employers they possess the skills and knowledge needed for a constantly changing workplace.

Understandably, many in the traditional higher education universe are skeptical about a lack of third-party validation of course content and quality.

I have lived and worked in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, two areas where alternative credentials have flourished and function effectively in the technology, design and entertainment fields. In my previous role as dean of UCLA Extension, one of the nation’s largest providers of non-degree educational programs, we offered nearly 150 professional certificate programs that did not carry degree-level academic credit but were widely recognized by employers as complementing more traditional academic programs.

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