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Stackable Credentials Toolkit

The approach by community and technical colleges of embedding “stackable” certificates aligned to industry certifications within associate degrees has emerged in recent years as a practical way of helping students progress along the education continuum while earning credentials with labor market value.

By organizing programs into a series of certificates that build on each other, colleges can offer incremental milestones on the path to associate degree completion. Stackable certificates are intended to represent exit and entry points designed to maximize skill acquisition, employability, and seamless transition to careers. Ideally, learners can exit a program for full-time employment and resume where they left off when they’re ready to pursue the next level of credential or degree attainment, or leverage their newly earned credential to secure an entry-level position in their chosen career field while continuing their education part-time. The Mapping Upward project, a two-year project of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), provided technical assistance (TA) to thirteen community colleges in their efforts to embed stackable credentials within technical associate degree programs. The project produced a toolkit providing information on topics of interest to colleges considering a stackable credentials approach. Download the toolkit.

Mapping Upward Podcast Series

The Mapping Upward Podcast Series features community college professionals known for their work on stackable credentials discussing various aspects of program design and partnership building. Listen to the podcasts.