AACRAO Report - Transforming the Digital Credentials Space

March 3, 2021
  • AACRAO Press Releases
  • Credential Evaluation
  • Research
  • blockchain
  • Credentials
  • press release
  • Process efficiency
  • Research
  • Research and Analysis

Contact: AACRAO Communications

AACRAO Releases 2021 report on the changing landscape of academic credentialing - Meeting the Moment: Transforming the Digital Credentials Space.


This American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) report examines the current state of the credentialing ecosystem and encourages adoption of new or enhanced technologies to meet the needs of the changing landscape.

Through a series of impact surveys and reports conducted in the late spring of 2020 AACRAO gained key insights in the transition institutions made from in-person and paper-based academic record processes to secure digitization of those processes.

This new report reveals:

  • 32% Plan to devote more resources to the digitization of credentials in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 54% View credential fraud as a concern
  • 89% report using at least one type of digital credential today - this includes digitally signed PDFs
  • Key goals for digitization of credentials focus on:
    • Efficiency
    • Reducing fraud
    • Improving inbound and outbound processes

Our approach to data collection involved the use of the Qualtrics survey platform to query AACRAO's list of primary contacts at institutions throughout the United States and Canada. Characteristics of institutions surveyed include:

  • 37% public , 58% private, 5% not-for-profit and private
  • 15% lower division only, 18% undergraduate only, 60% undergraduate comprehensive, 6% graduate and/or professional, and less than 1% system office or "other" category
  • 54% enroll fewer than 2,500 students; 17% enroll greater than 10,000 students

AACRAO research has found that nearly 9 in 10 institutions claim to use one or more digital credentials currently, with just 11% reporting that they are not using any.

Download the full report here

This report was sponsored by Hyland (Software and Information Management).


AACRAO is a non-profit, voluntary, professional association of more than 11,000 higher education professionals representing approximately 2,600 institutions in more than 40 countries. Its commitment to the professional development of its members includes best practice guidance on admissions strategies to meet institutional diversity objectives, delivery of academic programs in innovative ways to meet the needs of a changing student body, and exemplary approaches to student retention and completion.