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Westminster launching micro-credential programs

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Westminster College

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.-- What exactly are micro-credentials, and how will they apply to Westminster students? According to the National Education Association, micro-credentials are "a competency-based recognition issued for professional learning experiences." Westminster will now introduce the micro-credential as digital badges that appear on transcripts. The College will award the badges to students who learn, demonstrate and showcase specific skills in a particular field.

This month, the Board of Trustees approved the Data Analytics Micro-credential program. It comes from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and the School of Business. To complete the credential, a student must complete 12 hours of coursework identified in computer science and business. Data analytics focuses on analyzing raw data to make conclusions about that information.

"Anyone with interest in data analytics can complete the micro-credential, regardless of their current major or minor," said Academic Dean Jamie McMinn.

It's the first micro-credentials for the College, and it will appear in the 2023-2024 College Catalog.

"We know that as people look for jobs, having additional credentials on your resume is helpful," said President Kathy Richardson. "And so being able to highlight by having a certificate in data analytics may get your resume picked up as opposed to others that do not have that.

President Richardson also discussed the benefits micro-credentials bring to the workforce and the work to create additional programs.

"We have several students working on cyber security certification [in] a program through a state grant in Hermitage. We hear, at every conference we go to and read about, that is what employers are looking for. We offer good coursework here, so it mostly is putting it together so working adults can take 3 or 4 classes to get ahead in their careers, or students [can] think about how to put this together so that [they] stand out. We really want to lead into that. We want our students to be prepared."

The faculty wants success for each student, giving them the resources needed to take additional courses that enhance individual credentials tremendously.

In the end, micro-credentials bring about the best of both worlds. They offer courses that are more specialized and faster to reach the same end destination as a "traditional" course. Micro-credentials also prove to future employers that the individual has specific skills and knowledge in a particular field. This program will improve the "skill gap" most employers look at as a weakness.

Westminster faculty will continue building other micro-credential programs to support the "We" in Westminster as students take off their careers post-graduation.

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