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Types of Alternative Credentials


A microcredential is a credential that signifies, verifies, and/or validates that specific professional knowledge, competencies, skills, or abilities have been achieved. Microcredentials are generally shorter in duration than certificate programs (generally ranging from no credits to 17 credits) and focus pointedly on in-demand, high-quality and growth-oriented jobs. Because of this focus, they are typically developed in close partnership with an employer and tailored to the needs of that organization.  Some may be self-paced and/or competency or performance-based; many are offered online or involve online learning aspects. They are typically highly customized and innovative and may include online educational courses, bootcamps, professional certifications, pre-hire testing or employer-sponsored training. They are not transcripted at Miami University; earners receive a hard copy of a certificate issued by the academic department or unit offering the program.  Some programs that are more rigorous may also provide earners a digitally verifiable badge.


Professional Education

A credential that is a type of microcredential but it is specifically designed for professionals in the workplace and is typically non-credit-bearing.  Students in professional education programs are typically persons who are not already matriculated at Miami, are in the workforce, and need education to gain currency or new skills related to their profession.  Professional education programs may be offered online, in person, or hybrid mode.


An Ohio Department of Higher Education credential, TechCred are technology-focused and industry-recognized microcredentials that take a year or less to complete and prepare current and future employees for the technology jobs Ohio employers need.  These alternative credentials are developed in partnership with an Ohio employer and can be completed in less than one calendar year, involving fewer than 900 clock hours or thirty (30) credit hours. Employers can apply for funding from the state to offset costs for their employees/students.


A certificate is a type of award, whether for-credit or non-credit, that indicates a person has achieved a specific level of knowledge, competency, skill, or abilities; typically, certificates are focused on professional or lifelong learning. Most certificates can be completed within one year of full-time academic effort.

Credit-bearing Certificates

Credit-bearing academic program in which the student completes a prescribed course of study, typically 12-30 credits, typically focusing on professional or lifelong knowledge, skills or competencies. Like a minor, it is offered to students outside of the major. It may also be offered to non-degree seeking students. This may be at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level. For matriculated students, this type of certificate is designated on University transcripts when the certificate is awarded. For non-degree-seeking students, the certificate is designated on University transcripts upon completion. (Depending on the level of the certificate and the number of credit hours, certificates that have the possibility of enrolling non-matriculated students may need to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission for approval.

Non-credit Certificates or Certificates of Completion

Programs in which the student completes a prescribed course of study but do not issue academic credits. They are often offered in professional, adult, executive, and continuing education programs and awarded to students upon successful completion of the program. They can be completed by matriculated or non-matriculated students. However, this type of certificate is not designated on University transcripts when the certificate is awarded.


  • Recognize that rapidly changing technologies and social issues create an increasing need to respond with new and relevant educational opportunities. 
  • Seek to engage students who may or may not need an entire degree program but have skills/knowledge gaps or interests that relate to future desired employment or promotion.
  • Match workforce demands by generating outcomes that connect to employer needs, as determined by thorough market analysis and employer input.
  • Demonstrate market viability.
  • Provide flexible pathways to college credentials and opportunities, to address students' personal and professional life/schedule needs.
  • Permit the curriculum to be nimble and responsive to the evolving needs of the global community, while maintaining the high standards inherent of Miami University.
  • Support the following audiences: current college educated working adults with identified skill gaps, college educated individuals trying to change or advance careers, alumni, professionals in need of continuing education to maintain credentials, and working adults trying to identify a more advanced career path where college credit is required. 
  • Ensure the quality of the learning experience for Miami alternative credentials (whether credit or non-credit).  is of utmost importance. All alternative credentials should advance rigorous learning outcomes and be assessed regularly via a University-approved rubric.
  • Promote the portability and transferability of the credential (have value beyond the institution and within an external industry or market).
  • Offer alternative credentials within a traditional semester or term.