Success Stories: North Dakota

Silhouette of State of North Dakota

Why We’re Committed

The North Dakota University System, in collaboration with the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) and Credential Engine, is giving its residents access to detailed, accurate information about the more than 1,900 credentials available to people in the state. Together, they will work to publish data from all of North Dakota’s public postsecondary institutions to the Credential Registry, with the goal of developing navigable pathways and integrating the data with its comprehensive learner record initiative. Through the partnership, leaders in North Dakota have also joined the Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance (MCTA), which connects people in the region to transparent, comprehensive data about degrees, certificates, apprenticeships, and other credentials. The partnership shows that state education and workforce leaders recognize the importance of both making credential data transparent and integrating that data with other systems throughout the state and region. Additionally, the work demonstrates the value state leaders place on aligning postsecondary education and workforce development, which will result in higher-paying and more stable jobs for people throughout North Dakota.

Collaborating Agencies

  • North Dakota University System
  • North Dakota Statewide Longitudinal Data System

Recognizing the Need to Align Education and Training Systems With Workforce Needs

The state’s efforts to create credential transparency began with a series of questions about the outcomes of North Dakota’s education and workforce training systems:

  • Are students being prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce?
  • Do postsecondary graduates find employment in North Dakota?​
  • Are the state’s employers finding a well trained workforce within the state for current and emerging jobs?


The answers are critical to North Dakota’s economic success, since the changing nature of work has placed an even greater emphasis on the education, skills, and training of people in the state. So the state’s university system and SLDS joined forces, and in collaboration with Credential Engine, are looking to augment data already in the SLDS — including outcomes of the state’s education and workforce training programs.

The partners’ goals include building a comprehensive learner record; better articulating how transfers operate between universities, colleges and training agencies; and describing pathways to in-demand jobs.


“This pilot enables us to explore our capacity for greater efficiency and improved consistency while helping students navigate the myriad of educational pathways available to them.” –Lisa Johnson, Vice Chancellor for Academic & Student Affairs, North Dakota University System

Using the Registry to Make Credentials and Pathways More Transparent

The university system, SLDS and Credential Engine are working on a pilot initiative with Bismarck State College, resulting in nine credentials and one pathway being published to the Registry. The Registry uses the Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL), which provides a common set of terms that define the “rules of the road” for describing credentials, credentialing organizations, quality assurance bodies, and competencies. Based on an analysis of more than 700 pathways in the Midwest region, multiple postsecondary institutions in North Dakota and other Midwest states are using the Credential Registry to document cybersecurity pathways with multiple credentials, competencies, courses, certifications, and transfer value profiles. This focused work in cybersecurity will help demonstrate what’s possible and promote interstate pathways via new resources and services. The North Dakota team is also directly engaging a wide variety of edtech companies (such as, badging tools, resume tools, student information systems, course catalog tools, etc.) to understand the state’s options for integrating with the Registry. 

As more colleges and universities in the state publish their credentials and pathways to the Registry, they will be able to document useful connections across all of the options students have to advance their careers.

The Regional Value of Credential Transparency

One critical piece of North Dakota’s efforts to create credential transparency is its partnership with the MCTA. Funded by Ascendium, Credential Engine and the Midwestern Higher Education Compact launched the initiative in January 2021 to provide stakeholders in the region with connected, comparable data about credentials available in 12 Midwestern states. As part of this work, Credential Engine is supporting Midwestern states that are beginning to engage in this work. 

MCTA is working with Credential Engine and state partners like North Dakota to discover opportunities to use more transparent, open-source credential information to connect people with the opportunities they need to learn the right skills for the best jobs.