Alternative Higher Education

  • Manja KlemenčičEmail author
Living reference work entry



Alternative higher education refers to alternative pathways to academic degree be that through alternative forms of higher education institutions or alternative programs leading to an academic degree or recognition of prior learning or of acquired competences. Alternative higher education also refers to alternative credentials such as industry-recognized certificates, badges, licenses, and nanodegrees as alternatives to academic degrees.


This chapter reviews the history and the more recent developments in the alternative higher education and discusses the emerging forms of alternative higher education provision. The emergence of alternative higher education institutions implies innovations in how higher education is organized and delivered, to what purposes or credentials it serves, and what pathways lead to a credential. Alternative higher education is...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Anderson, G. Lester, ed. 1976. Land-Grant universities and their continuing challenge. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aoun, J.E. 2017. Robot-proof: Higher education in the age of artificial intelligence. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arum, R., and J. Roksa. 2011. Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Auld, Robert B. 1972. The cooperative education movement: Association of cooperative colleges. Journal of Cooperative Education 8 (5): 24–27. ISSN 0022-0132.Google Scholar
  5. Baum, S., and M. McPherson. 2019. Improving teaching: Strengthening the college learning experience. Daedalus Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 148 (4): 5–13.Google Scholar
  6. Bok, D. 2008. Our underachieving colleges. A candid look at how much students learn and why they should be learning more. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brint, Steven, and Jerome Karabel. 1989. The diverted dream: Community colleges and the promise of educational opportunity in America, 1900–1985. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, J., and M. Kurzweil. 2017. The complex universe of alternative postsecondary credentials and pathways. Cambridge, MA: The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.Google Scholar
  9. Carnevale, A.P., I.T. Garcia, and A. Gulish. 2017. Career pathways: Five ways to connect college and careers. Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce, July 11, 2017.
  10. Cedercreutz, C.C. 2008. Leveraging cooperative education to guide curricular innovation: The development of a corporate feedback system for continuous improvement. Cincinnati: Center for Cooperative Education Research and Innovation.Google Scholar
  11. Christiansen, C. 2008. The innovator’s dilemma: The revolutionary book that will change the way you do business. New York: Harper Business.Google Scholar
  12. Christiansen, C.M., and H.J. Eyring. 2011. The innovative university: Changing the DNA of higher education from the inside out. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  13. Cohen, Arthur M., and Florence B. Brawer. 1996. The American community college. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  14. Craig, R. 2018. A new U: Faster+cheaper alternatives to college. Dallas: BenBella Books.Google Scholar
  15. Geiger, Roger L., ed. 2000. The American college in the nineteenth century. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Godwin, K.A. 2017. Trends in liberal education: Précis of a global phenomenon. In The evolution of liberal arts in the global age, ed. P. Marber and D. Araya, 87–105. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hoidn, S., and M. Klemenčič, eds. 2020. Routledge handbook on student-centered learning and teaching in higher education. New York/Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Kamenetz, A. 2010. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the coming transformation of education. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Kerr, Clark. 2001. The uses of the university. 5th ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Klemenčič, M. 2019. Students and Higher Education Expansion. In: Teixeira P., Shin J. (eds) Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  21. Klemenčič, M. 2020. Students as actors and agents in student-centered higher education. In Routledge handbook on student-centered learning and teaching in higher education, ed. S. Hoidn and M. Klemenčič. New York/Abingdon: Routledge. Chapter 5.Google Scholar
  22. Klemenčič, M., and BoYun Park. 2018. Student politics: Between representation and activism. In Handbook on the politics of higher education, ed. Hamish Coates, Brendan Cantwell, and Roger King, 468–486. Cheltenham/Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kliewer J. 1999. The innovative campus: Nurturing the distinctive learning environment. Phoenix, AZ: American Council on Education/Oryx Press.Google Scholar
  24. Kosslyn, Stephen M., and Ben Nelson. 2017. Building the intentional university: Minerva and the future of higher education. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Magid, L., and N. King. 1974. Mini-manual for free university. Lincoln: Study Commission on Undergraduate Education and the Education of teachers.Google Scholar
  26. Mayhew, L. 1977. Legacy of the seventies. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  27. Mills, M., and G. McGregor. 2017. Alternative education. Oxford research encyclopedia of education. Alternative and non-formal education.
  28. Murphy, P., M.A. Peters, and S. Marginson. 2010. Imagination: Three models of imagination in the age of knowledge economy. New York: Peter Lang.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Palvia, S., P. Aeron, P. Gupta, D. Mahapatra, R. Parida, R. Rosner, and S. Sindhi. 2018. Online education: Worldwide status, challenges, trends, and implications. Journal of Global Information Technology Management 21 (4): 233–241. Scholar
  30. Ratcliff, James L. 1993. Seven streams in the historical development of the modern American community college. In A handbook on the community college in America: Its history, mission and management, ed. George A. Baker III. Boulder: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  31. Reilly, M. 2006. The ivory tower and the smokestack: 100 years of cooperative education at the University of Cincinnati. Cincinnati: Emmis Books.Google Scholar
  32. Soares, L., J. Eaton, and B. Smith. 2013. Higher education: New models, new rules. Educause Review 48 (5).
  33. Sorber, N.M. 2016. The University Tradition in the United States. In: Shin J., Teixeira P. (eds) Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  34. Staley, D.J. 2018. Alternative universities: Speculative design for innovation in higher education. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Toetenel, L., and B. Rienties. 2020. The virtuous circle of learning design and learning analytics to develop student centred online education. In Routledge handbook of student-centred learning and teaching in higher education, ed. S. Hoidn and M. Klemenčič. New York/Abingdon: Routledge. Chapter 20.Google Scholar
  36. US Government Publishing Office. eCFR, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 34. Education Subtitle B. Regulations of the Offices of the Department of Education Chapter VI. Office of postsecondary education, department of education Part 675. Federal work-study programs Subpart C. Work-Colleges Program (§§ 675.41–675.50).Google Scholar
  37. Williams, Roger L. 1991. The origins of federal support for higher education: George W. Atherton and the land-grant college movement. University Park: Pennsylvania State Press.Google Scholar
  38. Wilson, James Warner, and Edward H. Lyons. 1961. Work-study college programs; appraisal and report of the study of cooperative education. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  39. Zamani-Gallaher, E.M. 2016. Community Colleges and the Massification of Higher Education. In: Shin J., Teixeira P. (eds) Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and SciencesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Manja Klemenčič
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and SciencesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA