Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials - 2021 Report

Executive Summary

Learners, educators and policymakers understand that high school completion and education beyond high school are critical to thrive in the workforce. However, until recently an inventory of the number or type of secondary and post-secondary credential opportunities in the United States did not exist. This is the third annual report from Credential Engine that attempts to count all these credentials. The report identifies 967,734 unique credentials in the U.S.

There are 967,734 unique credentials in the U.S. in 16 detailed credential categories across four types of credential providers:

  • Postsecondary educational institutions – 359,713 degrees and certificates
  • Massive open online course (MOOC) providers – 9,390 course completion certificates, micro-credentials, and online degrees from foreign universities
  • Non-academic providers– 549,712 badges, course completion certificates, licenses, certifications, and apprenticeships
  • Secondary schools – 48,919 diplomas from public and private secondary schools

As in prior years, this report demonstrates the nation’s need to dramatically improve transparency in the credential marketplace to promote economic growth and individual mobility. We need to know more about how credentialing practices overlap, including how certificates offered by institutions of higher education stack to further certificates and degrees, and how badges are utilized to represent these and other credentials. We need more information about what various credentials entail in order to properly categorize and understand them—from the competencies they aim to convey to the time they require to complete to their relative value in the marketplace.

New in this report is a state-by-state breakdown of credentials offered by state-based entities in five categories: diplomas, certificates, degrees, apprenticeships, and licenses.

Read and Download the Report.

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