Find a subject of interest, receive some counseling, fulfill requirements, and receive your badge! This is an abbreviated version of the process needed to earn merit badges through the Boy Scouts, but it’s a process being promoted in higher education as a revolutionary way to prove skills and knowledge. A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education addresses the rise in alternative higher education practices that include the bestowing of badges on individuals to show competency in a particular skill or even behavior. The growing interest in badges has been heightened by Mozilla’s Open Badges project advertised as “making it easy for anyone to issue, earn and display badges across the web — through a shared infrastructure that’s free and open to all.” Promoters of the open badge system cite lower education costs and recognition of specific skills as benefits of this program. Badges can be given for learning a particular computer program, developing a website, or answering questions from users in an open learning environment, to name a few. Many supports of badges believe there are skills that employers are looking for that may not be evident on traditional diplomas. Badges aim to highlight with specificity the potential of new employees. Statistics have shown that college graduates continually out-earn workers with only a high school diploma. In an article by the Brookings Institution, this fact holds true even in our current economic recession. The question remains, what weight will employers give these virtual badges, and will they come to pose a significant challenge to traditional diplomas? In December, Brookings further reported on the importance of education and training in growing industries. Perhaps badges can play a role by filling this need by specifically targeting skills that employers are seeking. The value and legitimacy of learning achieved through a badge system will come under heavy scrutiny, but it stands as an additional threat to traditional universities as educational costs rise and alternatives to education grow.