National Initiatives  /  Pathways to Credentials

Pathways to Credentials

Stackable credentials focus career and technical education programs on building the critical skills needed for students to advance in growing sectors of the economy.

By awarding credit for a range of education, training, and workplace learning and skill building experiences that “stack” toward associate degrees, stackable credential programs help working students develop the skills they need to advance on the job and earn credentials that enable further study – at the same time. This accelerates credit attainment and may increase the likelihood of degree completion.

Pathways to Credentials

This initiative supported community and technical colleges in their efforts to embed stackable, industry-recognized credentials within technical associate degree programs. A cohort of 10 college teams received technical assistance.


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Introduction to Stackable Credentials

Learn about stackable credentials and how they can support employer partners and students.


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Pathways to Credentials Overview

Learn about promising practices in employer engagement, career pathway design, and non-credit/credit integration in this presentation.

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Certification Crosswalk

Use this interactive tool to quickly find certifications for career and technical education. 


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The Pathways to Credentials and Mapping Upward projects created tutorials and podcasts offering the perspectives of community college practitioners on issues relevant to stackable credentials.

First frame of Oregon’s Career Pathways Initiative Mark Mitsui and Kate Kinder, Portland Community College recording

Oregon’s Career Pathways Initiative
Mark Mitsui and Kate Kinder, Portland Community College
Summer 2021

Shares details of Portland Community College’s holistic approach to providing career pathway opportunities for students.

First frame of Stackable Certificates and Industry Engagement Todd Oldham, Monroe Community College recording

Stackable Certificates and Industry Engagement
Todd Oldham, Monroe Community College
Summer 2021

Discusses the role of industry engagement relative to creating stackable certificates within a local labor market.


First frame of Industry Credentials as a Basis for Articulation recording

Industry Credentials as a Basis for Articulation
Julie Parks, Grand Rapids Community College
Winter 2021

Shares how eight Michigan colleges collaborated to articulate pathways from noncredit to credit in manufacturing.

First frame of Developing a BILT recording

Developing a Business Industry Leadership Team to Enhance Employer Engagement
Ann Beheler, National Convergence Technology Center
Winter 2021

Discusses the essential elements of the Business & Leadership Team (BILT) model of employer engagement.


Exploring Credit for Prior Learning, with Jamie Spacial, Gateway Technical College
Summer 2017

Shares best practices related to the development of prior learning assessments and a sustainable credit for prior learning system.

Breaking Down Silos to Build In-Demand Pathways, with Tom Crampton, Mott Community College
Summer 2017

Discusses stackable credentials in the context of Career Pathways, leveraging services to support students and employers, and removing barriers  to non-credit/credit integration.


Learning What Works: Data & Documentation in an Evidence-based World, with Kristin Wolff, SPR
Summer 2017

A tutorial on learning and evaluation to support community and technical colleges engaged in the design of stackable credentials.


Industry Certification Data Exchange Project: Results and Lessons Learned
Summer 2017

Between 2012 and 2017, the Certification Data Exchange Project (CDEP) pilot-tested a data exchange process to learn how data from third-party industry certifying agencies could be  shared and matched with data from state education and workforce agencies. This video describes the results, lessons learned, and next steps for states interested in conducting similar data matches.

Interview with Dr. Maria Coons
September 2016

Dr. Maria Coons, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Workforce Planning and Institutional Effectiveness at Harper College, offers her perspectives on leveraging stackable credentials to increase completion and inspiring college staff to sustain this change in program design.

Interview with Dr. Annette Parker
September 2016

Dr. Annette Parker, President of South Central College in Minnesota, discusses curriculum redesign approaches that allow students to earn stackable college credentials aligned to industry certification.

Interview with Debbie Davidson
September 2016

Debbie Davidson, Vice President of Business and Workforce Solutions at Gateway Technical College, shares her perspectives on collaborating with employers to design stackable credentials and building capacity for industry partnership development at the department level.