In higher education a microdegree also micro degree and micromasters is a credential focused upon a specified professional or career discipline and typically comprises one or more sources of accelerated educational experiences. Microdegrees are a single manifestation of Competency Based Education (CBE) which seeks to tie credentialing to specific skills sets.
Microcredentials including Microdegrees act as a pointer to the criteria for and demonstration of the skills represented by the microcredential. Because the credentials are presented in a digital format, they can be parsed automatically for verification over the web and allow for a greater level of granularity than a traditional paper transcript. Microdegrees meet the criteria for Open Educational Data defined by the U.S. Department of Education.
Within the hierarchy of educational credentials microdegrees are considered to be "certificates" requiring a lower level of commitment and rigor than a traditional degree program but serving an important role as a vocational credential.
The advent of the microdegree is presented by its promoters as a challenge to the existing degree model as it permits students to utilize accelerated, free and low cost programs to earn credentials of direct relevance to their interests and career ambitions.
Microdegrees and other Microcredentials are also seen as a system to facilitate and record lifelong learning. A significant percentage of Microdegree students are working adults seeking career change or advancement.
In recent years, MOOC platforms have started expanding their offerings of microcredentials as viable substitutes, going as far as offering a blended education model. Such programs allow graduates of the respective microcredential programs to have a reduced residency period at traditional universities. Universities like MIT have started admitting its first batch of students in supply chain management at a reduced 5-month residency period through their blended learning initiatives on the edX platform with the launch of its Micromasters program.
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