Certification+Degree Pathways in Support of First-Generation, Low-Income, and Adult Learners

As part of a three-year grant from ECMC Foundation, Workcred, the League for Innovation in the Community College, and the National Student Clearinghouse are teaming up with the Higher Learning Commission to offer community colleges an affordable, scalable approach to align degrees with industry needs through Certification+Degree (C+D) Pathways.

C+D Pathways, which involve embedding industry credentials into degree programs, is a common practice at community colleges, as these pathways are aligned with both student goals and industry needs. Furthermore, they better position students in their field and help to build a pipeline of prepared workers for employers.

The project will support four community colleges to develop and implement C+D Pathways in IT and health science programs, and establish a process for economical replication. The following colleges were chosen through a request for proposal process that included colleges that are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and demonstrated a high interest in and ability to execute the creation of C+D pathways:

  • Community College of Aurora
  • Delta College
  • Kirkwood Community College
  • Moraine Valley Community College

By aligning their curricula with certification competencies, community colleges are ensuring that their curricula is up-to-date and meets the skill needs defined by employers. Also, community colleges benefit from nationally-validated industry competencies while maintaining the flexibility to incorporate additional competencies identified by regional employers.

The project will place more emphasis on effective pathway development and implementation, as well as the use of metrics to guide continuous improvement and ensure the pathways are increasing learner retention and degree completion, and leading to living wage employment. Additionally, the partners will consider how C+D Pathways completion and attainment will be determined within the context of the accreditation process.

Funded by:

Project Partners: