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Projects & Initiatives

Integrating Industry Certifications with Degrees


APLU Impact

  • With support from Lumina Foundation, APLU and its partners held a series of regional convenings to explore how universities can improve student success and workforce outcomes by embedding industry certifications into four-year degree programs in the areas of health, cybersecurity, the liberal arts, manufacturing, and hospitality.
     
  • The effort aimed to reduce the time and cost gaps between a 4-year degree and post-graduate credentials and meet employer demands for a 21st century workplace and promote life-long learning.

Image of reportIn the U.S., nearly 11.2 million adults who have a high school diploma or less also hold a professional certification or license. Yet there is often a lack of awareness of how professional certifications (not to be confused with certificates) can be used to achieve better educational outcomes for graduates of four-year universities.

With support from Lumina Foundation, APLU's Office of Economic Development and Community Engagement, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, Workcred, and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UCPEA) hosted a series of meetings that included experts representing higher education institutions and accredited certification bodies. In late 2020, the groups published a framework to support the development and scaling of certification-degree pathways.

The effort worked to forge relationships between higher education institutions and industry certification bodies to facilitate stronger university-certification body partnerships; enhance strategies, data, and transparency through information exchanges and reporting so the requirements and value of both degrees and certifications are respected by academia and industry groups; and summarize the key findings and themes in a framework that can be used for pilot programs seeking to align efforts across universities and certification bodies. 

Media Engagement, Op-Eds, and Citations: