Micro-Credentials & Digital Badges

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Gain new skills, knowledge, and experience with Micro-Credentials

What is a Micro-Credential? 

A micro-credential is a small program in a focused area of study. When completed, micro-credentials provide a way to demonstrate acquisition and competence of specific skills, knowledge or vocational training to meet employers’ workforce needs. They can function within existing degree programs or as non-credit programs. Those that bear credit are typically 6 - 12 credits, which is fewer credits than degrees and certificates. When a student fulfills the requirements for a micro-credential, they will receive an electronic badge that can be shared with employers.

Benefits of earning Micro-Credentials

Learners and professionals can distinguish themselves by achieving a proficiency in skills that enhances their knowledge and marketability in the workplace. Micro-credentials can be “stacked” or combined with credentials from other sources allowing recipients to build their micro-credentials into larger, more recognizable credentials. For example, robotics and machine learning micro-credentials could be stackable into a larger Artificial Intelligence credential. Micro-credentials can be offered online, on-campus, or via a hybrid of both.

What is a Digital Badge? 

At the successful completion of a micro-credential program, learners are awarded a digital badge. Digital badges are artifacts, much like a diploma, of the skills mastered after completing a micro-credential program. Open badges contain metadata about the program’s requirements and learning objectives. They are independently verifiable and portable, thus empowering learners to use and share as they see fit.    

How does a Micro-Credential differ from a Certificate?  

Micro-credentials 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 provide a way to demonstrate acquisition and competence of specific skills, knowledge or vocational training to meet employers’ workforce needs. They can function within existing degree programs or as a part of a certificate. Certificates typically have a minimum number of credits, and are smaller than major programs of study. Completed certificates are typically recorded on academic records and displayed on traditional transcripts. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Micro-credentials are available to degree seeking and non-degree seeking learners, undergraduates, graduates, non-traditional learners and working professionals. Except for graduate-level micro-credentials, which require a bachelor’s degree, it is not necessary to have a college degree to apply. Some credentials have prerequisites. Admission is not required for enrollment.

Micro-credential participation does not confer University of Arizona student or alumni status and will not appear on a transcript.

One of the most unique features of a University of Arizona digital badge is the ability to easily communicate your accomplishments. Share your badge with social media sites or incorporate them on your professional branding tools like a resume or website. UA Badge-Earners Support.

A digital badge is a visual, online representation of an accomplishment, skill or other achievement. Open badges are a type of digital badge.

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Micro-credentials are offered in the classroom / face-to-face, online or a hybrid of both. 

Micro-credentials are not-for-credit, but may be awarded concurrently when enrolled in a credit class. Some micro-credentials may require an activity or have requirements apart from credit-earning classes (workshops, seminars, etc.). 

A non-credit certificate is awarded by an educational institution (such as The University of Arizona) after you complete a program. Certificate programs typically involve successful completion of multiple courses. Industry certifications are awarded by a certification body (often an industry association, trade group or corporation).

Certifications are usually awarded after successfully completing an exam that demonstrates you have acquired the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job or task. Certifications are often time-limited and may be renewed through a recertification process. 

Propose a New Micro-Credential

Departments seeking to submit a micro-credential for review and approval should view the rubric and Micro-Credential Approval Process prior to beginning the process to prevent delays. Lead administrator approval within the department is needed prior to submission. For questions regarding the process contact the Alternative Credentials Coordinator, Erin Riesgo.

How Can My Department Issues Digital Badges?

  1. Badges are issued in Canvas Credentials for learners achieving minimum criteria
  2. The Alternative Credentials Coordinator approves badge criteria and badge designs
  3. Email badge@arizona.edu with questions or for badges unrelated to a micro-credential