Microcredentials, certificates or badges that indicate satisfactory completion of a non-degree program, are one of the fastest growing sectors of the higher education market. Despite this increase, little is known about how microcredentials are changing the graduate education landscape. In particular, the relationship between stackable microcredentials – certificates or badges that can be combined into a degree – and the master’s degree remains unclear.

“Microcredentials hold great promise and appeal because they involve a shorter time-commitment and cost for students.” said Suzanne Ortega, President of CGS. “This can be a great way for a student to get a taste of more specialized training in a particular field or some expertise that is specific to their career goals. What we don’t yet know—and what this project will help us to better understand—is the extent to which their investment in these programs pays off over time. We need to understand the extent to which employers understand and value microcredentials, and what the relative return on investment is for microcredentials and full degree programs at the master’s level.”

To answer these questions, CGS has embarked on an 18-month project to clarify the types of credentials offered by post-secondary institutions; explore the relationship between those credentials and the master’s degree; and assess how those credentials are valued by employers.