All or Nothing: Midpoint Credentials

This study examined the accumulated college credits of students who stop short of conferral of their intended postsecondary credentials. A search of higher education systems in the U.S. and internationally identified models that convert departing students’ credits into college credentials or facilitate the awarding of formal degrees to students who drop out:


  • College completion is a top priority for higher education today.
  • The value of a credential compared to some or no college credit is increasing.
  • Low college degree attainment remains an unresolved issue; enough students are beginning college, but some students leave with some credits, no degree.
  • Many students who drop out depart after acquiring substantial numbers of credits. Selected state data reveal that students often depart with enough credits for some credential.
  • Offering midpoint credentials to students who meet requirements for a lower or alternative degree than they initially sought may be considered a win-win-win.
  • Associate degrees are an underutilized midpoint credential in baccalaureate programs, but models exist that may offer insights to other institutions.

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