Micro-Credentials at SUNY

Follow SUNY's Progress as it Leads the Way in High-Quality Micro-Credentials


What are Micro-Credentials?

At the most basic level, micro-credentials verify, validate, and attest that specific skills and/or competencies have been achieved. They differ from traditional degrees and certificates in that they are generally offered in shorter or more flexible timespans and tend to be more narrowly focused. Micro-credentials can be offered online, in the classroom, or via a hybrid of both.

Why is SUNY Interested in Micro-Credentials?

It's all about SUNY's commitment to each student's success and the value of individualized learning. The potential uses for micro-credentials are far-reaching: offered within an existing degree program, micro-credentials can motivate current students to persist; as an add-on to an existing degree program, micro-credentials allow students to distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace through mastery of skills complementary to their chosen field of study; for adult learners looking to start or return to college, micro-credentials can be used to break a degree program down into smaller sections of curriculum that stack toward a degree; and, micro-credentials can be terrific tools to support life-long learning and professional development. One of the most common ways micro-credentials are recognized is via a digital badge that can actually link prospective employers to examples of student work.

SUNY's Commitment to Academic Quality

SUNY's micro-credential policy was informed by a University-wide Micro-Credentialing Task Force that included representative SUNY presidents, provosts, deans and directors, University Faculty Senate members and Faculty Council of Community College members, SUNY Student Assembly members, continuing education professionals, registrars, and business officers. The over-arching priority of the Task Force was to ensure that whatever framework the SUNY policy created, it would be grounded in a commitment to quality. The Task Force recommended, and the SUNY Trustees endorsed, a SUNY-specific definition of micro-credentials. 

A SUNY micro-credential is:

  1. Competency-based, reflecting skills and competencies mastered;

  2. Endorsed by the issuing institution as a whole;

  3. Developed through local faculty governance processes; and

  4. Meaningful and of high quality, with learning standards, assessments, and clear documentation of skills mastered that have meaning beyond one classroom, one program or the institution. Students can use a SUNY micro-credential to share their expertise to prospective employers, those hiring for internship opportunities, and to other academic institutions.

SUNY micro-credentials can take the form of a digital badge, MOOC, or micro-award. SUNY is committed to ensuring that each micro-credential is represented clearly and accurately to students, addressing all associated costs, financial aid, transferability, and applicability (e.g., stack-ability) toward a formal award(s) (i.e., registered degree, certificate).

Guiding Principles of SUNY's Micro-Credential Policy

  1. Academic quality is paramount for micro-credentials, and faculty governance participation is required.

  2. Micro-credentials are initiated locally, developed, and approved according to local campus policies and procedures, consistent with campus mission and strategic goals.

  3. Micro-credentials designed to meet market needs should be informed by current data from appropriate markets and align with relevant industry/sector standards.

  4. Micro-credentials can provide opportunities for industry/education connections and partnerships.

  5. Micro-credentials are inherently more flexible and innovative.

  6. Micro-credentials should be portable (have value beyond the institution).

  7. Micro-credentials should be stackable (multiple micro-credentials lead to credit bearing coursework, a more advanced badge or a registered certificate or degree).

Follow our progress through the work of four implementation teams, developing new tools and resources to support campus efforts.