- Nanodegrees from Udacity, microdegrees from Coursera, and other programs like them resemble the trade certificates or extension programs of the past, but some see these new innovations as the latest “game-changers” in higher ed.
- The accelerated certificate programs create their curricula with employers to offer a course that directly readies adults for jobs waiting in industries increasingly open to hiring employees without four-year degrees in their fields.
- In many cases, the mini degree programs attract college-educated students looking for a career change, but some students are starting to look at them while getting a degree or before college entirely.
The options across higher education are undoubtedly becoming more diverse. But the idea that online mini degrees will destroy the business models of traditional four-year institutions is far-fetched. Many of these traditional institutions already partner with companies looking for professional development. They craft new courses based on the needs of their corporate partners. Community colleges, too, have traditionally responded to the needs of local industry in creating degree programs and training students for the workforce. Accelerated, affordable, online options certainly provide students with a viable alternative, but not one that would work for every student.