What Are Stackable Credentials (And Are They Worth It?)

I have been thinking of getting a master’s degree in digital marketing for some time now. You know, to improve my skills, take my career to the next level, and. all of them.

But as much as I would like to dive into it, I don’t think I have enough time to program full time right now, nor am I in a position to do all that Tuition costs.

However, I recently saw something called. Stackable Certificates, Which appears to deal with All Problems that can be linked to a degree by breaking down traditional programs into smaller units.

What are Stackable Certificates?

What are Stackable Certificates?Stackable credentials are basically. Breaking major degree programs., Such as an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, in small learning units.. Depending on the course, you can complete these units in a few weeks – or even a few hours.

Anant Agrawal, Founder and CEO edX, An online platform that hosts open courses, says you should think about these credentials like.

“Lego blocks of education that can be used to unlock. Career development And High-paying jobs. ”

For each course you complete or the skills you learn, you receive a certificate or badge, which you can use to improve your resume. This means that you will not have to wait two or four years to reap the benefits of what you have learned, depending on your career.

But the real beauty of stackable credentials lies in the fact that once you get these certificates, you can stop them, or you can “stack” them to get a degree.

Why go for Stackable Certificates instead of the traditional degree?

So you’re probably wondering why you should bother to submit credentials when you can enroll in a regular part-time program to earn a degree?

Well, technically you can.

However, stacking offers a unique set of benefits that are hard to come by in the traditional way.

You can start at any time.

Since most Stackable Certificates are 100 online online and asynchronous (aka pre-recorded classes), most of them are open for enrollment throughout the year, so you look forward to next semester or quarter. No need to

They are widely available.

Stackable credentials are also widely available. You can find them practically anywhere, including community colleges, both private and public universities, and even online platforms, such as. edX And کورسیرا۔.

No prior notice is required for registration.

No prior notice is required for registration. at most Of these courses, therefore, you will not need to pass a complex standardized test or be subject to eligibility requirements to get started. To enroll, you just need to be prepared to learn.

They are cheaper than traditional college credit.

Stackable credentials have a “pay-as-you-go” billing structure, and credits typically cost between $ 100 and $ 200, according to Agarwal, much less than edX. National average cost per undergraduate credit., Which is $ 594.

Because. Not everyone needs a full college degree. To get the job of their dreams, it means you can master the skills you need, and save thousands of dollars by choosing these certificates instead of the traditional college program.

Read more: College vs. Trade School – Which is Right for You?

You can get the full set of skills in a short time.

One of the best things about stackable credentials is that they don’t require a huge amount of time.

For example, you can get a. Micro Bachelors in Marketing Needs. In three months on EDX from Dwayne University. This course only requires you to spend seven to nine hours per week studying.

It also means that you can start applying what you learn right away, and improve your job prospects instead of waiting two or four years to advance your career.

They can replace standard tests.

If you are interested in pursuing a graduate program, Some universities GRE or GMAT will waive test requirements that successfully complete a series of stackable credentials, as well as a set of skills that you can use right now.

So, this is a win.

How Stackable Certificates Work

There are three ways to stack:

  • Vertical
  • Horizontal
  • Value added

Each of these strategies is designed with different goals in mind.


The classic way to stack vertically. with. Vertical stacking, You are basically equal when you go..

In other words, every course and certificate you complete brings you closer to earning an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree – or all three if you follow a certain order.

This type of stacking is ideal for people who have some college credit – or not at all – and want to get a degree, while simultaneously advancing their careers.


Horizontal stacking is a special article about building your skills. Unlike vertical stacking, Horizontal stacking You do not have to complete the course in any particular order, nor are they organized by level..

This strategy is widely used by those who work in technology because they can obtain certifications in specific areas such as data privacy and cloud security, for example to further expand their career as a system administrator.

Value added

Value added stacking. A combination of both vertical and horizontal stacking. This form of stacking basically involves both obtaining a degree and a certificate in a particular subject, with the goal of graduating to perform a particular job..

An example of this would be obtaining a certificate in project management or business analysis to complete a business administration degree with the goal of working as a project management or business analyst.

What are stackable degrees for?

People who dedicate themselves to the traditional college experience.

According to Higher Learning Advocates The latest data, A non-profit organization that advocates for the success of students beyond high school, 37 of all college students are adults over the age of 25, while 24 of them are parents.

This means that they may not have the “linear” or straight path that younger students with less responsibility have. Therefore, for students who have to contend with school, work, and other family responsibilities, stackable credentials may be worth it, such as They are more flexible than standard..

Read more: Are online degrees worth it?

Those looking for a career-focused certificate in the demand field.

Agarwal of EDX says stackable degrees are especially suitable for those who want a career-focused certificate so that they can pursue their careers in on-demand fields, such as business and healthcare. , For example.

People who want to avoid degrees completely.

Stackable credentials may also be the right solution for those who have not yet completed a degree and want to acquire valuable skills and knowledge that they can use to advance their careers in a short period of time.

Is stacking really worth it?

Is stacking really worth it?A. Recent paper The Annenberg Institute at Brown University also found. Adults who complete Stackable Certificates are 4 times more likely to work than “Non-Stickers” and experience a 7% increase in average salary after completing the course..

The article also notes that those who have completed health and business courses have seen higher wage increases than in other sectors, with an average quarterly increase of $ 640 and $ 760, respectively.

So, yes, stacking. does Payment

Challenges to consider.

Yes, there are many professions of stacking, but there are also some challenges that you should be aware of before stacking certificates.

Here are the most important.

You will need a lot of discipline.

Most of these courses are self-made, or unshakable, which means you will need a lot of commitment and discipline to complete them successfully.

John Harbor, Provost Purdue Global, Says some courses have access to tuition and frequent interactions with faculty, but still, you will need to be very proactive about your learning.

There are not many fields to choose from.

If you do a quick Google search you will find that most of these certifications are available for on-demand fields such as tech, business, science, engineering and health.

So, if you are interested in another place, it is possible that you will have a hard time finding courses.

Getting financial aid can be difficult.

Harbor says you can apply if the certificate you are receiving is part of a degree program. Federal student aID, As Student loans.

However, these certificates are usually issued on a case-by-case basis, when it comes to financial aid, so you need to check with the institution first to see your options.

Transferring credit to a non-partner can be difficult.

If you take credentials from an institution and want to transfer these credits elsewhere, Harbor says it’s up to the school to decide whether or not to accept these credits, so it’s important to consider before enrolling. Is.


Stackable credentials are an affordable and flexible way to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to advance your career in the short term.

While they may not replace the traditional college degree, they can make it easier to get one by allowing you to learn one step at a time.

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