What are stackable credentials (and are they worth it?)

I’ve been thinking about getting a Master’s Degree in Digital Marketing for a long time now. You know to improve your skills, take my career to the next level and all this

But as much as I want to immerse myself in it, I don’t feel like I have enough time right now to devote myself to a full-time program, and I cannot afford everything. cost of education

However, I recently came across something called foldable credentialswhich seem to solve all These problems can be solved by breaking traditional programs into smaller parts that can be combined to achieve a degree.

What are Stacked Credentials?

Stackable credentials significantly interfere with degree programse.g. an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree into smaller academic units… You can usually complete these sections in a few weeks or even a few hours, depending on the course.

Anant Agarwal, founder and CEO edX, the online platform that hosts open courses says you should think about these credentials like

Lego educational blocks you can use to unlock career advancement and high paying job… “

For every course you take or skills you acquire, you earn a certificate or badge that you can use to supplement your resume. This means you don’t have to wait two or four years to reap the benefits of what you’ve learned in terms of your career.

But the real beauty of scalable credentials is that you can either stop as soon as you get those certifications, or you can “stack” them together to get your degree.

Why go for scalable credentials instead of a traditional degree?

So you’re probably wondering why you need to add up credentials at all when you can just enroll in a regular part-time program to get your degree, right?

Well, technically you could.

However, staking offers a unique set of benefits that are difficult to achieve if you go the traditional route.

You can start at any time

Since most stackable credentials are 100% online and asynchronous (i.e. made up of pre-recorded classes), most are open for registration all year long, so you don’t have to wait for the next semester or quarter to get started.

They are widely available

Stackable credentials are also widely available. You can find them almost anywhere, including community colleges, private and public universities, and even online platforms like edX and Coursera

No prior knowledge is required to register

No prior knowledge is required to register with most these courses, so you don’t have to take an annoying standardized test or meet requirements to get started. To enroll, you just need to be willing to learn.

They are cheaper than traditional college loans

Stacked credentials have a pay-as-you-go billing structure, and credits typically cost between $ 100 and $ 200, Agarwal says, from edX, significantly less than average cost of an undergraduate loan by country, which is $ 594.

WITH not everyone needs a full college diploma to get your dream job, that means you can get the skills you need and save thousands of dollars by choosing these certifications over your traditional college program.

More details: College vs. School of Commerce – Which One Is Right For You?

You can get a complete set of skills in a short amount of time.

One of the best things about scalable credentials is that they are not time consuming.

For example, you can get Bachelors in Marketing Fundamentals from Doane University on edX in just three months. This course requires you to spend seven to nine hours per week studying.

It also means you can immediately start applying what you’ve learned and improve your job prospects along the way, instead of having to wait two or four years to move up the career ladder.

They can replace standard tests

If you are interested in applying for graduate school in the future, some universities waives the GRE or GMAT test requirements for students who successfully complete the foldable credential series, plus you’ll gain a set of skills you can use right away.

So this is a win-win.

How stackable credentials work

There are three ways to fold:

  • Vertical.
  • Horizontally.
  • Added value.

Each of these strategies is designed for different purposes.


Vertical – the classic way of styling. With vertical stacking, you essentially level up as you progress

In other words, each course and certificate you take brings you closer to an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree – or even all three if you follow a specific sequence.

This type of stacking is ideal for those with college credits – or none at all – and looking to pursue a degree while moving up the career ladder.


Laying horizontally is about developing your experience on a specific topic. Unlike vertical stacking, horizontal laying does not require taking courses in a specific order and they are not organized by level

This strategy is widely used by those in the tech industry as they can gain certification in specific areas such as data privacy and cloud security to further expand their careers, such as as system administrators.

Added value

Value-added styling is a combination of vertical and horizontal installation. This form of association mainly involves both obtaining a degree and a certificate in a specific subject with the aim of obtaining a diploma ready to do a specific job.

An example of this would be earning a certificate in project management or business analysis in addition to a business administration degree in order to work as a project manager or business analyst.

Who are Stackable Degrees for?

Those who are too busy to devote themselves to traditional college studies

According to advocates of higher education latest data, which is a non-profit organization that advocates for student success outside of high school, 37% of all college students are adults over the age of 25, and 24% of them are parents.

This means they may not have the “linear” or direct path to degrees that younger students with fewer responsibilities have. Thus, for those students who have to combine school, work and other family responsibilities, the credentials added can be very useful, because they are more flexible than standard degrees

More details: Should you ever study online?

For those who want to obtain a certificate focused on a career in an in-demand field

EdX’s Agarwal says scalable degrees are especially suitable for people who want a career-focused certification to start or advance their careers in an in-demand field like business and healthcare.

For those who want to avoid a diploma altogether

Accumulating credentials can also be the right solution for those who have not yet completed their advanced degrees and want to gain valuable skills and knowledge that they can use to pursue their careers in a short period of time.

Should I drain?

Should I fold?A recent article The Annenberg Institute of Brown University also found that Adults who have received folding documents are 4% more likely to be employed than “non-handlers”, and their average salary after completing the courses will increase by 7%.

The document also notes that those who combined health and business courses experienced higher wage increases compared to other areas, with an average quarterly increase of $ 640 and $ 760, respectively.

So yes, styling does pay off.

Issues to consider

Yes, there are many benefits to stacking, but there are a few issues you should be aware of before starting to stack credentials.

Here are the most important ones.

You need to be very disciplined.

Most of these courses are self-paced or asynchronous, which means you will need a lot of determination and discipline to complete them successfully.

John Harbor, Chancellor of Purdue Global, says that some courses have access to tutoring and frequent interaction with teachers, but you still need to be very proactive in your teaching.

Not many fields to choose from

If you do a quick Google search, you will see that most of these credentials are available for in-demand areas like technology, business, science, engineering, and healthcare.

So if you are interested in something more niche, it may be harder to find courses.

Getting financial help can be tricky

Harbor says that if the credentials you receive are part of the graduate degree program, you can apply for federal student aI’d, Such as student loans

However, these credentials are usually assessed on a case-by-case basis when it comes to financial assistance, so you need to check with the institution first to see your options.

Transferring a loan to a non-partner institution can be challenging.

If you take credentials from a school and want to transfer those loans elsewhere, Harbor says the school must decide if they will accept these loans, so this is something to consider before enrolling.


Accumulated credentials are an affordable and flexible way to gain the knowledge and skills you need to advance your career in a short amount of time.

While they cannot replace a traditional bachelor’s degree, they can make it easier for you to get one by allowing you to learn step by step.

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