U.S. Higher Education Associations Drive Credential Transparency

Recent years have seen explosive growth in the number and types of postsecondary credentials that document learning. Increased understanding of credentials, and the learning they each represent, is of critical importance for colleges and universities in their efforts to support student success and enhance institutional performance.

For that reason, national higher education associations, led by the American Council on Education (ACE), Credential Engine, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), and EDUCAUSE, have joined together to create resources with the goal of introducing their members to the concept of “credential transparency.” These associations’ leaders believe that greater credential transparency can support postsecondary institutions in important ways, such as by communicating the life and career relevancy of credentials to students and employers, aligning program curriculum with education outcomes, integrating technological systems, and connecting credentials to help individuals achieve their goals.

To read the complete letter outlining this commitment to credential transparency, please click here.

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Higher Education Roles

Greater credential transparency can be achieved through coordinated efforts across different roles at institutions. Everyone has a stake. These broadly supportive role-based contributions can be integrated into a variety of institutional efforts and policies.


Board members can consider credential transparency in any review of institutional policies, procedures, and disclosure statements. They can encourage institutional leaders to highlight and use credential transparency as a strategic differentiator in publications and communications.


Presidents and institutional leaders can incorporate credential transparency into strategic priorities and ensure their organization has tools and incentives for reporting outcomes and other credential data. They can ensure campus functional areas are communicating and cooperating in a holistic manner on how to best achieve credential transparency.


Registrars can define operational procedures supporting credential transparency, such as regular audits of academic catalogs, student information systems, program guides, data warehouses, and public websites. In collaboration with IT staff, they can map relevant program, course, competency, and degree data to CTDL.


Provosts and deans can look for opportunities to incorporate credential transparency in academic program reviews and self-studies, such as by documenting program differentiation, competency maps, quality assurance, and assessment plans. Faculty can work together to articulate and align curricular, instructional, and assessment practices for each credential offered at the institution.

Information Technology

Information technology leadership can include credential transparency and data management support within procurement processes. They can support professional development for staff to incorporate credential data transparency and discoverability on institutional websites. Information technology staff can learn about using open data standards for credentials and competencies. They can use globally unique identifiers for all credentials and competencies so that credential changes are well managed. Managers of IT systems can automate the CTDL encoding and transmission of relevant program, course, competency, and degree data.

Institutional Research

Reporting, institutional research, and analytics staff can build efficient data reporting workflows by ensuring staff have appropriate and consistent access to credential source systems and reusable credential and competency reports. They can use globally unique identifiers for all credentials and competencies so that research and reports are more comprehensive and accurate.

Key Collaborators

These leading higher education associations have committed to joining the movement to unlock the power of clear, accessible information about credentials.


Major Postsecondary Education Organizations Commit to Credential Transparency

Today 15 national postsecondary education organizations signed a joint statement of their support for credential data transparency, marking a critical push on behalf of the higher education industry to dismantle long-held data silos and unlock the power of open data to better serve students.

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