How can we address the rising interest in noncredit education and non-degree credentials?

Our research delves into these short-term workforce education and training offerings to better understand what they are, how data can be collected on them, and systems that can measure and promote their quality. 

Current Projects on Noncredit Education and Non-Degree Credentials
Building the Non-Degree Credential Data Infrastructure – Community College Noncredit Program Analysis Across States

Noncredit education and non-degree credentials have grown significantly in community colleges over the past several decades, but very little data exist on their effectiveness. This project will analyze program-level noncredit data to better understand the characteristics of such programs and to develop a taxonomy to guide future data collection efforts.

>View more details here.

Lumina Foundation’s All Learning Counts Initiative Evaluation

In 2019, the Lumina Foundation awarded $3.5 million in grants to nine organizations nationwide in its All Learning Counts initiative, which seeks to ensure that knowledge, skills and abilities gained outside of formal higher education can be applied to credential programs. A four-year evaluation of this program will be conducted by the Rutgers Education & Employment Research Center and Brandon Roberts + Associates, a public policy consulting firm.

Quality and Decision Making in Community College Non-Credit Education

An estimated 5 million students enroll in noncredit courses and programs at community and technical colleges each year. This project examines how community colleges ensure quality in noncredit programs and how students make choices about pursuing these credentials.

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Identifying High Quality Industry Certifications

The massive loss of jobs during the pandemic has made industry certifications a critically needed pathway to help people quickly develop new skills. This brief offers guidance on identifying high-quality industry certifications to states and other entities that seek to understand and measure these credentials.

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Mapping the Non-degree Credential Quality Market

As non-degree credentials (NDC) become increasingly common offerings in the education and training marketplace, the importance of developing systems to ensure their quality is a policy imperative. To create a more systematic approach to NDC quality, this paper addresses two overarching questions: Who are the organizational actors in the NDC marketplace? How do they influence quality? This paper examines potential influences on NDC quality in the credential marketplace and provides a roadmap of the organizations and initiatives currently involved in overseeing NDC quality. It provides a discussion of implications for building on this existing infrastructure to create a more robust and coherent system to promote quality in the NDC marketplace.

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Past Projects on Noncredit Education and Non-Degree Credentials 
Pathways for Short Term Credentials

Students seeking short-term, non-degree credentials are more likely to earn certificates if they receive credit for prior learning (CPL). Yet within the Colorado Community College System, just 4 percent of students are using CPL to complete their certificates.

This study, conducted by the Rutgers Education & Employment Research Center (EERC), found that for both traditional students and adult learners over the age of 25, CPL credit had a positive effect in completing a non-degree credential.

>View more details here.

A Review of the Literature on Informal Learning

Learning is often viewed as the product of a traditional school setting. Yet learning also takes place every day across a range of settings — much of it in the workplace.

This study examines the numerous ways that informal learning occurs, the benefits and drawbacks of different forms of informal learning, and the implications for achieving equity.


> View more details here. 

Non-Degree Credential Quality: A Conceptual Framework to Guide Measurement

More than one quarter of adults in the United States have some type of non-degree credential, according to a survey by the National Center for Educational Statistics. Yet there is little guidance on how to evaluate the quality of these credentials.

This paper outlines a broad framework to guide the development of standards and processes to measure the quality of non-degree credentials. The paper is intentionally broad to allow stakeholders to identify those elements that are most essential for their purposes while keeping a few key guidelines in mind.

>View more details here.