Learning Hub


28th Apr 2023

Related Articles

Event Insights: Adaptive HR for the Future of Work, with Dr Marianne Roux
Event Insights: Discover Your Keys to Sustainable High Performance

What is a Credit-Bearing Programme?

When you complete a Professional Diploma with IMI, you’ll receive a qualification from UCC, at level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). To earn a Masters Degree or Professional Diploma, participants will be assessed through a variety of practical assignments.

Programmes will have no examinations; instead, the emphasis throughout is on the practical application of knowledge to benefit you and your organisation, and this is assessed through a variety of tools, but with no terminal examination. Assessment, workshops and your independent study extends across the programme to allow you to combine your learning with your work and life demands.

What is a Credit-Bearing Programme?

A programme which is credit-bearing indicates two important things.

Firstly, it has been evaluated and formally approved by an awarding body, (for example, UCC) as leading to a qualification, and that qualification is at a particular level on Ireland’s National Framework of Qualifications. Essentially, it’s a stamp of approval that the programme meets standards of quality, creditability and continuous improvement. When a programme is on the NFQ, it means that you’ll be able to compare the qualifications across different institutions, and you’ll be assured that the qualification will be recognised, both in Ireland and abroad.

Secondly, it has a specific amount of ‘credit’ attached to it. Credit is based on an internationally agreed model related to the volume of work attached to a programme. In Ireland we use ECTS to count how much effort you need to put in to a block of study to have a reasonable chance of being successful in the associated assessment.  This is a total of everything you do for the programme, not just the time you spend in a formal classroom or at workshops, but also the time you spend reading, writing, reflecting, and doing. For example, 5 ECTS = 125 – 130 hours of workload.  Depending on the programme you are doing, the subject matter, or the methodology, more or less of that time may be spent in independent study.
In IMI typically  a module of learning which has a volume of 5 ECTS involves 3 days of classroom engagement, and then a further 100+ hours of independent work or assignments.


What are the Benefits of a Credit-Bearing Programme?

When you choose a credit-bearing programme, there are a number of benefits you can look forward to.

Quality and credibility

A credit-bearing programme is guaranteed to be of a high standard. There are rigorous criteria which programmes need to meet in order to be accredited, and the institution needs to maintain these. This means that you’ll  significant worthwhile knowledge from undertaking the programme.


When a programme has been approved to bear university credits, this acts as a hallmark of quality, and employers know that participants have gained unparalleled knowledge and capabilities. Having completed a credit-bearing programme will stand you in good stead in your future career, and it’s something that you can add to your CV and LinkedIn that is sure to impress potential future employers. You’ll also be able to leverage your new knowledge to undertake new projects in your current role, which could lead to future promotions.

Transfer of credits

When students transfer from one institution to another, their credits are more likely to be recognised and accepted because both institutions have met similar academic standards. Formal credit-bearing programmes also facilitate the recognition of degrees and credentials earned by participants, which is important for employment and further education. For example, you might be able to put previous studies towards your Masters with IMI.


What are Micro-Credentials?

Micro-credentials are short or small credit-bearing programmes.  Often they have a work focus and can be industry-driven qualifications. These bite-sized programmes allow professionals to control their own development while enabling companies to nurture and retain top talent and increase their competitive advantage. Each element of the journey promises to be an energising learning experience leading to a world class qualification. In May 2022 the Council of the European Union established a definition which has been adopted by Ireland’s higher education providers.

By completing a micro-credential at IMI, you are doing two things. Firstly you are gaining knowledge and understanding around a distinct subject area; secondly you have taken the first step towards achieving a Professional Diploma, awarded by UCC. Each micro-credential completed will award you 5 ECTs, or occasionally 10 ECTs, which you can use towards the parent Professional Diploma from which it is drawn. You can use these earned credits to build towards a Professional Diploma, awarded by UCC – you just need to take the additional modules which will add up to the full amount of ECTs needed.

Alternatively, your micro-credential can stand alone as a qualification in itself, with numerous benefits.

Organisational Benefit

Organisations can recognise and integrate critical skills into their workforce, while also facilitating individuals’ career growth in a highly customisable way.

Driving Your Learning

Micro-credentials will empower you to drive your professional learning and provide room for reflection.

Updating Your Knowledge

Micro-credentials allow you to continually update your knowledge. Upskill and build competencies in a flexible, fast and affordable way.


Master of Business Framework

The Professional Master of Business Studies qualification at IMI allows you to complete any two Professional Diplomas before undertaking the highly innovative final capstone programme, Advanced Strategic Performance, which brings your learning together in an integrative experience working with peers. The capstone programme is focused on rigour and imbued with relevance, and will help to improve confidence and self-perception, hone knowledge and skills, and emphasise reflective practice.

All programmes are approved and awarded by University College Cork, and are at level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications. You can complete the taught element of each Professional Diploma on a modular basis over a 6-8 month period, and have up to six years to complete all elements of your Professional Master journey.

International Accreditation 

AACSB accredits all business education provided by UCC, and its Cork University School of Business (CUBS), to which IMI is aligned. IMI, and all of its executive development offerings, are accredited by AACSB.   



Did you enjoy reading this article?