The world of certified electronic diplomas

July 12, 2016
  • AACRAO Connect
  • Records and Academic Services
  • Technology and Transfer
Male presenting from behind a podium.

by Lisa Scully, Senior Associate Registrar, Indiana University, Bloomington

For decades, the chronologically-sorted transcript, rather than the diploma, has served as the official document for graduates of colleges and universities in the United States.  The recent heavy influx of international students has created a sea change in academic credentialing. Thomas Black, Stanford University Associate Vice President and University Registrar, partnering with Christopher Jackson, CEO of Paradigm Inc, offered a solution in their presentation "Certified Electronic Diplomas: A Serious Document for a Complex World," at the 2016 AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference being held in Anaheim, California.

As countries outside of the United States rely on the single certificate of the diploma as verification of the completion of the degree, the current rise in the international student population is placing an increasing emphasis on the need for a digital diploma. 

Benefits of digital credentials

Beginning in 2014, Stanford has offered a digital diploma to graduates, with the added benefits of enabling students to certify more detailed and individual data about their academic career than what is obtained by reviewing the set of completed courses and grades.  Providing an electronic representation of the credentials, Black stated, is "approaching the 21st century."

He added that three key benefits provided by digital credentials are trademark protection against diploma mills, cryptographic protection against fraud and tampering of the data, and validation protection to ensure the authenticity of the document.

Download handouts from the Monday 8:15 a.m. session here.


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