Fast Track: The Merits Of Short-Term Credentialing

Neetu Arnold

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by The American Conservative on April 19, 2021. An excerpt is republished below with permission. To read the full article, click here.

Many Americans started thinking more seriously about job security after unemployment rates peaked in the midst of the coronavirus lockdowns. Naturally, they turned to education; for decades, the bachelor’s degree has been perceived as the hallmark to a stable career path with secure employment. But desperate times had Americans looking for quicker and cheaper options.

Enter short-term credentials, certificates, and other sub-baccalaureate programs. While such programs have existed for years, they are now of greater interest as various tech companies create their own short-term credentials for in-demand jobs. Universities are getting in on the action too: The University of Utah wants to offer short-term programs by partnering with businesses. As these credentials continue to garner interest, Congress is even considering extending federal funds to programs of length less than 15 weeks.

The increased interest in short-term credentials has reinvigorated a broader conversation about higher education’s role in the labor market. New America, a think tank, is skeptical of federal funds going to these programs over poor employment outcomes, especially among minorities and women. Their analysis implies that a traditional college education still produces the best outcome for students, and the disparities warrant “new efforts to ensure that all students have equal access to the promise of higher education.”

On the other hand, I recently published a report, Priced Out: What College Costs America, in which I argue that we should decrease demand for four-year degrees in order to fix our broken student loan system and runaway tuition growth. Growth in short-term credentialism presents a unique opportunity to solve these long-term problems through competition in the postsecondary education market. ...

Neetu Arnold is a Research Associate at the National Association of Scholars.

Image: Marten Bjork, Public Domain

  • Share

Most Commented

May 7, 2024


Creating Students, Not Activists

The mobs desecrating the American flag, smashing windows, chanting genocidal slogans—this always was the end game of the advocates of the right to protest, action civics, student activ......

March 9, 2024


A Portrait of Claireve Grandjouan

Claireve Grandjouan, when I knew her, was Head of the Classics Department at Hunter College, and that year gave a three-hour Friday evening class in Egyptian archaeology....

April 20, 2024


The Academic's Roadmap

By all means, pursue your noble dream of improving the condition of humanity through your research and teaching. Could I do it all again, I would, but I would do things very differently....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

September 21, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What Does YHWH Elohim Mean?

A reader asks, "If Elohim refers to multiple 'gods,' then Yhwh Elohim really means Lord of Gods...the one of many, right?" A Hebrew expert answers....