Student Credentials

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A growing number of institutions of higher education (IHE) are enrolling students with intellectual disability (ID). Programs for students with ID offer a range of credentials upon completion of programs of study. These credentials vary in their format and structure and the extent to which they are aligned with standard IHE credential development or provision structures. But in many cases, they represent the first credential available at these IHEs to this traditionally marginalized group of learners.

The IHE credential landscape generally is expanding rapidly to include online credentials, micro and nanodegrees, and non-degree credentials of value. Students, employers, researchers, policymakers, educators and advocates are considering the question: What are the characteristics of a "meaningful credential"? The resources on this page provide information and insights about credentials for students with ID, and also offer context about the credential landscape nationally.

News & Features

Florida Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education logo
This Florida IPSE Credential Guidance Brief Series was developed in 2019 by the Florida Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education (FCIHE) i ...Read more
In this webinar archive, Bryan Wilson, Director of the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a project of the National Skills Coalition, shares information about the growing number of non-degree credentials now being offered or developed at IHE around the country. ...Read more
This group was created to allow for discussion and networking between educators, professionals, researchers, policymakers, and advocates around the topic of credentials in postsecondary educat ...Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Can students with ID earn postsecondary credentials?

Yes! There are over 275 college and university programs nationwide that serve students with ID. These programs offer a variety of credentials, most typically non-degree credentials such as a general certificate that can be tailored to individual students’ career goals. A growing number are offering certificates that focus on work in a particular industry.

How are credentials developed?

Some programs develop their own credential based on a program of study designed to include students with ID in academic, employment, and extracurricular activities. Others may offer credentials that are available to all students at the institution of higher education, including those with ID.

What factors are considered when programs develop credentials specifically for students with ID?

The definition of a postsecondary program for students with ID that is included in the Higher Education Act includes an outline for a course of study that includes taking college courses for credit or audit with students without disabilities as a key requirement. Additionally, students must engage in internships or other work-based learning activities and independent living skills development as part of the program. Programs take a variety of approaches in addressing each of these requirements in their program’s credential.

Are non-degree credentials valuable in today’s labor market?

Absolutely. Many jobs in today’s economy require postsecondary education, but this does not always mean a 4-year degree. It can also mean certificates, licenses, or industry certifications which lead to quality jobs.

What are some examples of credentials a student with ID can earn at an institution of higher education?

These are just a few examples of the certificates available to students attending a college program for students with ID. While most programs offer one certificate option, there are several that offer a variety to choose from.
• Business Office Assistant Certificate
• Certified Dietary Aide
• Early Childhood Aide Certificate
• Certificate in Career Studies
• Integrated College and Community Studies