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NSC on Defining Quality Non-degree Credentials

National Skills Coalition (NSC) has published a report titled, Expanding Opportunities: Defining Quality Non-Degree Credentials for States, which proposes a consensus definition of quality non-degree credentials and criteria developed in consultation with twelve states and national organizations.  States may choose to adopt this definition and criteria for their own quality assurance systems in order to make sensible budget and policy decisions and advance equity.  NSC recommends four criteria to be considered for a quality credential.  

  • There must be evidence of substantial job opportunities associated with the credential. Evidence must include quantitative data and direct communication with employers.
  • There must be transparent evidence of the competencies mastered by credential holders; competencies that align with expected job opportunities. A definition of a quality credential need not include any standard regarding length of time.
  • There must be evidence of the employment and earnings outcomes of individuals after obtaining the credential.
  • The credential would ideally stack to additional education or training. The gold standard is that credentials stack to additional education or training, but there is not a universal pathway to reach this standard so states agreed it should not be an overarching required criterion in defining a quality credential.

Do these four criteria seem realistic and complete?  If not, what thoughts do you have about changes in support of a workable definition for quality non-degree credentials?


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator