Penn State offering stackable credentials through online learning

Students can take courses in sequence to complete graduate-level certificates in eight master’s degree programs
the seal of the university reading 1855 The Pennsylvania State University

The Pennsylvania State University seal

Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is offering for the first time stackable credentials that can be used to earn master’s degrees in engineering, data analytics, information science, artificial intelligence, human resources and psychology.

The stackable credentials at Penn State are being offered through 27 graduate-level certificates that can be completed online, through Penn State World Campus. To earn a stackable credential, a student will take courses in sequence to complete a graduate-level certificate of either nine or 12 credits. Some certificates can be completed in a year or less.

Students will receive a certificate with the official Pennsylvania State University seal on it after completion.

The certificates can be combined, or stacked, toward the completion of a Penn State master’s degree.

The stackable credential program is tailored to meet the evolving needs of today’s workforce so they can more quickly obtain credentials that show they developed the skills to help advance their careers.

“Working adults going back to school to learn new skills or a new specialization want to be able to leverage their new knowledge for career advancement as soon as they can,” said Renata Engel, the vice provost for Online Education at Penn State. “This is what the new stackable credential program does. It provides a faster pathway to demonstrate to employers what they learned and what they can do. We are committed to guiding learners through their educational journey, and stackable credentials take us in a direction that both aligns with an evolution in higher education and enhances the accessibility of a Penn State education.”

Applications are being accepted for enrollment in Penn State’s fall 2024 semester, which begins Aug. 26.

With offerings in engineering, artificial intelligence, IT, data science, psychology and human resources, Penn State’s online stackable credential program is the most comprehensive in graduate higher education in Pennsylvania.

The 27 stackable graduate certificates are available in the following academic areas:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Data analytics
  • Engineering management
  • Human resources and employment relations
  • Information science
  • Psychology of leadership
  • Software engineering
  • Systems engineering

The launch of these stackable credentials is the culmination of partnerships between Penn State World Campus, the Penn State Graduate School, Penn State Great Valley and the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State University Park.

"Offering stackable credentials is a testament to Penn State's innovation in graduate education and our dedication to increasing access to graduate programs," said Levon T. Esters, vice provost for graduate education and the dean of the Graduate School. "Through this partnership with Penn State World Campus and academic colleges, we hope to extend the reach and impact of our world-class graduate programs." 

World Campus partnered with faculty at the Great Valley School of Graduate and Professional Studies in Malvern, Pennsylvania, to offer the engineering, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and information technology programs. Certificates include natural language processing, software architecture and design, cyber threat analytics and prevention, and data engineering for analytics, among others.

World Campus partnered with the College of the Liberal Arts to offer the human resources and psychology programs. Certificates include talent management, labor and employment law, and psychology of ethical leadership, among others.

Once an applicant is accepted to one of the certificates or degree programs among the participating stackable credentials programs, the application fee for any associated programs in the stackable credential pathway will automatically be waived.

To earn a master’s degree through the stackable credentials path, a student must be accepted into the program, complete the certificates as well as a capstone course.

Penn State World Campus has been offering a Penn State education online for more than 25 years, with a diverse selection of more than 200 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates.

The stackable credential program is the latest addition to the academic portfolio, which includes degrees and certificates in business, health care and nursing, the liberal arts, engineering, communications and more. Future stackable programs are planned for graduate study in sustainability and renewable energy.

Learn more about the stackable credential program at Penn State on the Penn State World Campus website.


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