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.


SUNY Micro-Credentialing Policy - Resources

A Sub-Committee of the Faculty Advisory Council on Teaching and Technology (FACT2), under the leadership of Jill Pippen, Dean of Extended Learning at SUNY Oswego, worked dilligently to add to resources created by the Micro-Credentialing Task Force that would support campuses in launching SUNY Micro-Credentials. This resource page has been created to give you easy access to this information.

SUNY Micro-Credential Definition and Related Glossary of Terms - Key to efforts to ensure that students, business and industry partners, K-12 partners, alumni and prospective students understand the value of a SUNY micro-credential is consistent use of the SUNY Micro-Credential Definition and related glossary of terms.

Academic Quality Rubric for Developing Micro-Credentials - This rubric is being circulated in draft form right now and we welcome your feedback at: provost@suny.edu through October 1, 2018. It is designed to be a tool/checklist to help guide the development of each individual micro-credential. The rubric addresses: allignment to campus mission; effective support; academic quality; and assessment.

Index of Research and Reports on Micro-Credentials - The initial Task Force report, link below, included an initial literature review. The FACT2 subcommittee has added to that resource.

Link to Recordings of Professsional Development Webinars on the SUNY Policy and How to Get Started - Thanks to the FACT2 subcommittee and host campuses, as well as the System office of Academic Program Planning and Assessment, a series of professional development webinars have been held and recorded that are designed to provide faculty and staff with an overview of the policy and good ideas for getting started.

SUNY Micro-Credentialing Task Force Report - The original report of the Micro-Credentialing Task Force, strengthened by a six week-open comment period with the entire University community, is designed to be a key resource for campuses in launching micro-credentials. It describes the thinking behind the SUNY-specific micro-credential definition, details the guiding principles, provides a scan of SUNY and national efforts, and also includes a possible model for campus engagement. The report serves as the foundation of the SUNY Trustees' policy.