Should you consider getting a micro-credential?

Micro-credentials and the future of university education

Advanced business degree programs are a major investment, personally and financially. That's why business leaders who want to encourage their employees' learning and development may want to consider incorporating micro-credentials to create more flexible and inclusive learning opportunities. Each micro-credential, or 'micro-cred,' is comprised of several courses offered at an accredited university that results in a digital badge of completion, rather than a formal degree, like an MBA. 

There are several notable advantages to micro-credentials. The most obvious would be a significant reduction in the time commitment. At Oregon State University, for example, micro-credentials range from 9-12 credit courses, whereas a professional certificate ranges from 27-32 credits. Another advantage, is that micro-credentials offer potential students the opportunity to take courses that focus on a specialty, making them leaders in their field of expertise.

MIT's Sloan chool of Management offers MicroMasters in supply chain management, data, economics and policy design, statistics and data science, finance, and more. All courses are on an enrollment-only basis, so applying isn't even required. And students who complete their credentials, are offered pathways to apply for an accelerated masters degree program at MIT or other institutions.

Another advantage of micro-credentials is that many of these courses are offered online, or in a hybrid format, so anyone can upskill from almost anywhere. 

But how seriously are micro-credentials being taken in the workplace? While it may be true for now that traditional online MBA programs have an edge, that's also changing. In 2022, the European Union adopted a recommendation on a European Approach to micro-credentials for lifelong learning and employability, supporting the development and recognition of micro-credentials across business industries, sectors, and educational institutions. And in an April 2024 survey conducted by Robert Half International Inc, a human resources consultation firm, 95% of business executives reported challenges in finding skilled employees for specific staffing requirements. 

Micro-credentials encourage career-oriented people to specialize, giving them a competitive edge in the job market. And that just is exactly what businesses and candidates need most right now.

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