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There's no degree program in plumbing at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, N.D. But there is a certificate program, and it's popular among not only prospective apprentices but also construction management, HVAC and other students. IMAGE: NDSCS

Ladders to success: Non-degree and online credentials challenge the status quo

Editor's note: For a story that explores the topic of nondegree credentials in more detail, click here.)


In December, Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy completed a national survey of 750 human resources leaders at U.S. employers, the university reported.

The survey, titled “Educational credentials come of age,” reported on the growth of new non-degree and online credentials.

Among the results:

  • “Skills-based or competency-based hiring appears to be gaining significant interest and momentum, with a majority of HR leaders reporting either having a formal effort to deemphasize degrees and prioritize skills underway (23 percent) or actively exploring and considering this direction (39 percent),” the survey reported.
  • “Online credentials are now mainstream, with a solid majority (61 percent) of HR leaders believing that credentials earned online are of generally equal quality to those completed in-person, up from lower percentages in years past.”
  • “In the years ahead, pre-hire assessment, talent analytics, microcredentialing and other innovations in hiring and credentialing are poised to challenge – in various ways and at different paces – the historical emphasis on college degrees in hiring.”