Learn more about how BYU-Pathway's certificate-first approach is accelerating the value of education
A new approach to help students finish their educationCompleting a degree is challenging. For some students, overcoming that challenge can seem impossible. Did you know that 90% of students in the lowest income quartile do not finish their degree within six years?
BYU-Pathway, in partnership with BYU-Idaho and Ensign College, evaluated their programs closely to improve outcomes for those students who are at higher risk of not completing a degree. Instead of the traditional university degree model that begins with general education courses, BYU-Pathway began designing a degree structure that allows students to take courses in their desired field of study right from the start. The solution was the certificate-first approach.
How it works
BYU-Pathway’s certificate-first approach is making a big impact on
As students continue their education, additional certificates and an associate degree are added, “stacking” into a bachelor’s degree — so no credits are ever wasted! Because a certificate can be completed in one year or less, students can see the value of their education accelerate immediately as they develop job skills and lay the foundation for a degree.
Here’s how it works: Students begin by earning their first certificate. After the first certificate, an associate degree is built from a second certificate in addition to some general education and elective courses. After that, students can earn a bachelor’s degree with a third certificate and more general education and elective courses.
This approach helps students not only earn a bachelor’s degree, but three certificates, an associate degree, and a host of employable skills along the way too!
“This certificate-first approach will help solve some of the inequity in higher education,” said Elder Clark G. Gilbert, commissioner of the Church Educational System.
Let’s talk numbersResearch shows that 90% of the value (i.e. increased income, improved employment) of a regular university degree doesn’t come until the senior year, after general education classes.
- Currently, 70% of BYU-Pathway students increase their earning potential after they earn their first skills-based certificate in just one year.
Because certificates are achievable milestones that motivate students to finish, students are also significantly more likely to finish a bachelor’s degree after completing their first certificate.
The success of the certificate-first approach
Students around the world report receiving job promotions after completing BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s foundational courses (called “PathwayConnect”), again once they finish their first certificate, and again after finishing their online degree program.
Like so many other students who hope and pray for improved employment opportunities,
Raul saw the benefits of an education even before graduation. He said, “I received several promotions at my work. I have been promoted again and again, and I am now studying to become a judge — something I always dreamed of doing!” He continued, “I know that the Lord has given me the resources to support my family and to pay my tuition as I have continued my education.”
By 2016, Raul not only earned a bachelor’s degree in business management but also two certificates in basic accounting and entrepreneurship and an associate degree in general studies.
Students all over the world are seeing similar opportunities become available to them as they earn certificates on their way to a bachelor’s degree. Raul’s experience is a great example of what students are experiencing as a result of this certificate-first approach. This can be your experience too!
Begin your certificate-first experience
Want a flexible, customizable, low-cost path to complete your bachelor’s degree? Looking to get immediate value out of your education? Learn more about the opportunities available to you through BYU-Pathway Worldwide today at