Digital Badges at Syracuse University: Recognizing and Authenticating Microcredential Moments in Higher Education

As higher education continues to anticipate and react to the needs of an evolving workforce, new programs and various modalities have been introduced to provide just-in-time learning opportunities that meet the needs of hard and soft skills sought by employers. Microcredentials give learners a pathway to quickly upgrade or enhance professional skillsets or interests in the form of short-form, topic-specific learning opportunities.

Female student sitting on couch with laptop smiling at camera.

Microcredentials: Filling Skill Gaps and Expanding Opportunities

Microcredentials play a unique role in helping students to upskill or reskill to be more competitive in the job market. By providing short and focused learning experiences, when and where students need it, microcredentials allow students to build a portfolio of demonstrated learning in a short amount of time, whether for professional advancement or personal interest.

The Office of Professional Acceleration and Microcredentials within the College of Professional Studies at Syracuse University was launched in 2021 to expand the University’s portfolio of alternative learning credentials, including noncredit certificates, courses and workshops. Alongside the launch of this new office is the introduction of digital badges. While official diplomas issued by accredited institutions remain the gold standard for credit-bearing certificate and degree programs, digital badges are fast becoming a similar standard for marking the successful achievement of professional microcredentials.

The first digital badges awarded by Syracuse University were to completers of the ‘Leadership and Governance During Times of Crisis’ certificate program at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, which has for decades offered distinguished, non-degree offerings in short-course formats to domestic and international audiences.

“Microcredentials expand our ability to publicly recognize and certify qualifications our alums have earned,” says Daniel Nelson, director of Short-Courses in the Maxwell School Executive Education Program. “It’s a valuable tool for the School and representative of the ways we continually expand our offerings of flexible education pathways. Microcredentials are a great tool to support immediate learning objectives as well as offering opportunities to “stack” these achievements towards enrollment in and completion of a traditional Maxwell degree.”

Digital Badges: Validating Learning Experiences

Through our digital badging platform, Syracuse University will recognize successful completion and demonstration of learning by issuing digital badges at various learning levels such as foundational, intermediate and advanced.

“When a Syracuse University College, School or special other unit awards a digital badge for an achievement, it means the achievement has been assessed and is now being recognized by that College, School or unit,” says Arthur Thomas, executive director of professional acceleration and microcredentials.

Digital badges serve as more than just an icon that can be shared on social media platforms like LinkedIn. The earning criteria listed on the digital badge help external evaluators and employers determine how to value the achievement of a particular digital badge against their own competency expectations.

Each digital badge provides specific information about not only the type of digital badge awarded, who it was awarded to and the date it was earned, but also what was necessary to achieve it and the awarding organization. The result is an online validation of an authenticated learning experience.

“When clicked on, the digital badge icon takes the user to a dedicated page on the badging platform where that badge is amplified, and its unique background information can be seen and verified,” Thomas says. “The authentic validation that accompanies these digital badges allows these individual journeys to become more “readable” by the viewing public, empowering individuals to show details about what makes them truly unique.”

Powerful Packs of Learning: Personalized Learning and Stackable Badges

Individualized learning goals can be created, tracked and met due to the ability to pursue microcredentials at various levels and on different topics. Students can choose to customize their learning journey by pursuing one or multiple microcredentials that round out their skills for a specific career path or goal. Students may also take advantage of pre-designed pathways featuring courses of advancing depth, which allow for increased knowledge of a specific skillset or subject and earn more advanced digital badges.  

“The ability to assemble microcredentials into a combination that is unique for a particular individual serves to define their professional brand,” Thomas says. “A student can assemble a powerful portfolio of digital badges that tells the story of their academic journey.”

The Office of Professional Acceleration and Microcredentials will work with all schools and colleges on the Syracuse University campus who want to issue digital badges to their students.

“We have an existing catalog of microcredential programs on campus that are currently recognized with printed certificates,” Thomas says. “We want to empower our students to not only pursue their lifelong learning goals but to also share their accomplishments with their networks. Digital badges allow us to give them that opportunity.”

In Summer 2022, a new and expanded catalog of microcredential programs will be launched alongside the integration of existing microcredentials into the badging platform.

To stay up to date on new programs and how to register, please visit the professional acceleration and microcredentials webpage.

About the College of Professional Studies

The College of Professional Studies is a global, inclusive and future-facing college, providing access to diverse students and learners seeking a Syracuse University degree, credential, certificate or education experience.

College of Professional Studies to Honor Women of the University Community Sept. 29

History provides copious examples of women supporting women. This fall, Syracuse University’s College of Professional Studies will honor a campus organization that has spent 94 years doing exactly that.                    

On Thursday, Sept. 29, Dean Michael Frasciello will present the Women of the University Community (WUC) with the Dean’s Lifetime Ambassador Award at the college’s Alumni Luncheon as part of Orange Central. The Lifetime Ambassador Award is the highest recognition bestowed on alumni and organizations annually for their support of the college and its students.

In 1927, some 57 years after the founding of Syracuse University, a group of formidable females formed WUC to provide friendship and fellowship among its members.

Fast forward 42 years to 1969 when the organization began holding fundraisers to assist women pursuing their education at Syracuse. WUC established three scholarships to support women who attend Syracuse University: the Ruth Tolley Award, presented through the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; the Mildred Eggers Award presented through the College of Professional Studies; and the Beverly Whaley Award presented through the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

More than $200,000 has been distributed over the last 50 years, with future support continuing through these endowed scholarships. “We are immensely grateful to the Women of the University Community for their unwavering belief in the transformational power of a college education, and their commitment to our shared mission of providing and supporting access to Syracuse University,” says Dean Frasciello.

The Mildred Eggers Award was established in honor of the wife of the late Chancellor Melvin A. Eggers in gratitude for her generous support of WUC. The award is presented to women studying part-time through the College of Professional Studies who are matriculated in a bachelor’s degree program and taking at least six credits the following semester. Recipients are selected primarily on academic merit, with financial need considered.

In the coming months, look for details about the Sept. 29 luncheon, to be held noon to 2 p.m. at Drumlins Country Club, as well as more about the history and significant contributions of this impactful organization that has supported women for nearly a century.

Syracuse University’s College of Professional Studies Honors Class of 2022

Syracuse University’s College of Professional Studies celebrated the Class of 2022 on Thursday, May 12, 2022 at Hendricks Chapel. Twelve students were individually recognized for completing a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree alongside 26 certificate, associate and bachelor’s degree candidates who studied part-time at Syracuse through other schools and colleges on campus.

Dean Michael Frasciello began the night applauding the graduating class for their high achievements. Keynote speaker Siddhartha Bhattacharya, associate vice president of marketing and communications at Syracuse University, spoke about the wisdom adult learners bring to the classroom.  

Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud was in attendance to hear student, Victoria Baratta, a U.S. Army veteran, speak about how she earned her degree while working full-time as one of the first Black female police officers in the Syracuse Police Department. Chancellor Syverud recounted Barrata’s story on Sunday at the Syracuse University 2022 Commencement at the stadium, earning Barrata a standing ovation from the crowd, as her degree marked the completion of a 20-year journey.

College of Professional Studies Service Awards

Service awards were presented to those who serve as academic pillars in the Syracuse University community.

Dean’s Excellence Award

Jonah Fugo
Online Success Advisor, College of Professional Studies

Staff Service Award

Daniel J. French
Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Office of University Counsel

Faculty Excellence Award

Patrick J. Neary
Instructor, Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program

Online Teaching Award

Susan M. Conklin
Instructor, Bachelor of Professional Studies Program

University Holds First Post-traditional Alumni Event in Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital was the setting on April 26 for the first-ever networking reception for alumni and students from Syracuse University. Planning for the event was led by the College of Professional Studies.

“As the University has significantly expanded its commitment to access for learners, we were energized to greet our alumni in Washington, D.C. and share updates on how the college and Syracuse University Global are now positioned to provide global access and transformative educational opportunities,” says Michael Frasciello, Ph.D., dean of the College of Professional Studies.

More than 160 people registered to attend the evening of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the Mayflower Hotel. The reception was a joint partnership between the College of Professional Studies, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and Syracuse University in D.C.

J. Michael Haynie, Ph.D., Syracuse University’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, opened the program with brief remarks about the university’s presence in Washington, D.C. and its commitment to members of the military.

Dean Frasciello followed with comments about the College of Professional Studies and the Syracuse University Global initiative, and then introduced the evening’s special guest, former NASA administrator and University Professor Sean O’Keefe, who attended Syracuse University and has taught many post-traditional students. He currently holds the Howard G. and S. Louise Phanstiel Chair in Leadership at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; serves as distinguished senior advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and is senior research associate at the Campbell Public Affairs Institute.

There are more than 341,000 Syracuse University post-traditional alumni, with over 7,000 students and alumni residing in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Engagement with these important members of the Orange family will continue, with plans to visit New York City, Los Angeles and other cities where the Syracuse University presence is strong.

“Engaging post-traditional alums is a priority of the University,” says Jeffry Comanici, executive director of post-traditional advancement. “These graduates are proud of their University affiliation, as well as the plans to expand the experiences they had as students to a global community.”

For questions or more information, contact Comanici at or 315.443.1409.

Earn a Cannabis Studies Certificate Online

A fully online cannabis studies certificate is now available through the College of Professional Studies.

The 15-credit cannabis studies online credit certificate provides a foundation of knowledge across the cannabis industry including governing laws, plant science and extracts, medicinal properties, plant cultivation and harvesting, as well as business and employment opportunities.

During this certificate program, students will learn how to define the legal and regulatory systems governing the cannabis industry, assess the components of starting and maintaining a cannabis related business, and analyze the science behind cannabis derived products.

The dynamic online courses are built with a blend of both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Students can participate in active conversations, receive immediate feedback, and interact personally with classmates and instructors during a required weekly meeting, resulting in a dynamic and engaging learning environment.

To learn more, visit


About the College of Professional Studies

The College of Professional Studies is a global, inclusive and future-facing college, providing access to diverse students and learners seeking a Syracuse University degree, credential, certificate or education experience.