Visit Modern Campus

The Registrar’s Integral Role in Expanding Microcredentials

The registrar’s office is uniquely positioned to help expand microcredentials across the institution and help support students and employers, whether the need is upskilling or exploring learning opportunities.

University registrars have historically walked the line between managing norms and pushing organizations into the future through innovation. As the institution’s record-keepers, creating consistent processes that ensure accurate record-keeping is a critical part of the role. At the same time, the registrar’s office is usually one of the places in a university that uses technology to support efficiencies and enhance the student experience. The 21st century has brought a society of impatient consumers who want everything yesterday. Education is no different; learners want to learn new skills and earn quality credentials quickly. They also want to have those skills and learning tied together to tell their story, whether they’re upskilling or just exploring as a lifelong learner. Who else can help institutions do that other than the university registrar?

Through record-keeping practices, the registrar’s office is critical to supporting expanding microcredentials. Of course, Continuing Education practices are not new, and historically credentials have separated traditional academic credit from nonacademic. The link between the registrars and Continuing Education has gained importance, as validating these new skills is critical for all parties. The registrar’s office is key to the credentialling process, yet many are slow to embrace the idea of creating a credential that transcribes a comprehensive record that includes academic and nonacademic credit in an accessible way. Comprehensive learner records are no longer a fad; several organizations—including the American Association of Registrars and Academic Officers (AACRAO), NASPA and 1EdTech—are working together to establish standards, as “higher education remains the primary source of workforce education” (AACRAO, 2022). The genius of the registrar is finding ways to share the competencies to illuminate the learner’s skills. Key to the expanding microcredentials is getting a jump on conversations with the registrar about credit, academic vs. nonacademic, transfer vs. residential and credential at completion. The registrar is a necessary part of the conversation and process to ensure a smooth student experience. Clear and concise information about the microcredential and what students should expect to experience includes more than just the courses required—we need a holistic view of the student.

More students are embracing the lifelong learning concept, as learning new skills and competencies is the new normal. The lifelong learner constantly seeks new learning opportunities for personal and professional enrichment. There are various ways to do that in higher education and other mediums. Doug McKenna (2022) shared, “Microcredentials are an opportunity to fill the need of making learning more accessible to members of our communities.” The affordability of traditional degrees is increasingly seen as less attractive due to increasing costs and student resource challenges.

Registrars play an essential role in supporting the expansion of microcredentialing, as it is a growth strategy for many institutions. Businesses that offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs as employee benefits are looking at partnering with institutions that can upskill their employees for current and future roles. Jack Mills (2022) explains, “Skills now have an average half-life of five years, and more than ever, workers, learners, employers, and industry want postsecondary institutions to provide instruction, validation of learning, and credentials that are aligned with skills needed for employment and career mobility.” Higher education institutions have a unique opportunity to work with organizations to create meaningful learning opportunities. Registrars are creative problem-solvers and therefore key to any organization’s credential expansion.


AACRAO. (2022, August 22). Championing the Registrar in CLR/LER. AACRAO.

McKenna, D. (2022, March 30). Microcredentials and You. CAEL.

Mills, J. (2022, June 21). Incremental Credentials: Giving students the tools to own their learning and open doors to the new labor market. CAEL.

Author Perspective: