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CAEL Pathways Blog

Microcertificates: Empowering Students with Rapid Credentials

By Dr. Jennie Harrop

At George Fox University, the largest private university in Oregon, students can now add microcertificates to their resumes – further shrinking the lines between academia and the workplace.

Launching this fall, microcertificates are credentials designed to help students stand out in a competitive job market. Each microcertificate consists of three one-credit, five-week courses that can be taken sequentially in a single semester. The courses are self-paced, asynchronous online, allowing students to move through the content at their own pace.

Each one-credit course provides a deep-dive into current industry-specific content, encouraging students to continue exploring once the course is complete. The three new credentials that will launch this fall are a healthcare administration microcertificate, which includes one-credit courses in healthcare administration, organizational leadership, and mental health studies; a career readiness microcertificate, which includes one-credit courses in writing excellence, career advancement, and spreadsheet optimization; and a data management microcertificate, which includes one-credit courses in project management, cybersecurity, and data governance.

The one-credit courses can be combined to form microcertificates or taken individually, and all of the courses count as elective credits in a student’s path to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Non-degree seeking students are also encouraged to join.

In addition to three microcertificates, George Fox University offers 12 asynchronous online certificates in such content areas as cybersecurity management, behavioral health, and conflict resolution, all offered within GFU's degree completion program. The degree completion program opened in 1986 with small cohorts of in-person adult students; the program continues to flourish in its now fully online capacity and an increasingly more diverse student body of varying ages and stages.

GFU’s addition of microcertificates and certificates, as well as an associate’s degree in 2025, provide stackable educational units for students to piece together as they seek to earn a degree while working full-time. With smaller units that can be earned as rapidly as a single semester, students are able to list their learning on their resume as they earn each next stackable credential, rather than waiting until the completion of a four-year bachelor’s degree.

Ambitious students can strategize their educational journey so they finish with a bachelor’s degree, up to eight certificates, and three microcertificates. And – perhaps best of all – students will no longer walk away from a partially completed university experience feeling like they have failed; microcertificates ensure that even a brief experience in higher education can lead to workplace advancement.


About the Author
Dr. Jennie Harrop is a​ssociate ​d​ean of George Fox Digital​,​​ an innovative branch of George Fox University that houses accelerated online bachelor degrees, certificates, microcertificates, and other stackable learning experiences. With more than 50 ​adjunct ​faculty and an adult degree program that is 35 years old, George Fox Digital ​provides transformational online learning experiences for the university's online students. ​Located in Newberg, George Fox University is the largest private university in Oregon.

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