Quality and Decision Making in Community College Non-Credit Education

Community college non-credit education is an important part of the non-degree credential system in the United States – offering many programs leading to certificates, certifications, and licensure. But little is known about how colleges ensure the quality in these programs and the credentials they lead to. Standards of quality are not clear for the vast array of non-degree credentials offered in community college non-credit programs. In this environment of limited information, learners seek to navigate the many options to choose a quality non-degree credential that meets their needs. Yet, when faced with these many options, little is known about how students make decisions to pursue a non-degree credential at a community college.  

Guided by the EERC non-degree credential quality framework, this project examines community college non-credit program offerings and how students make choices about these programs and credentials. This research includes in-depth case studies of community college non-credit programs in colleges from around the country to understand their processes for offering these programs across a range of occupations and industries. It also includes surveys with students to understand how they come to choose to pursue a credential offered through a community college non-credit program. 

This project is supported by Lumina Foundation.