Education Commission of the States is the trusted source for comprehensive knowledge and unbiased resources on education policy issues ranging from early learning through postsecondary education.


Subscribe to our publications and stay informed.

Request Assistance

Need more information? Contact one of our policy experts.

50-State Comparison: Work-Based Learning

Work-based learning opportunities across the education spectrum can allow students to connect classroom learning with hands-on experiences. As states seek to provide education opportunities that help students build the skills needed to accomplish their goals, increased attention has been placed on work-based learning.

This 50-State Comparison provides an overview and landscape of state policies, guidance and practices related to work-based learning in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This comparison provides information on work-based learning definitions, leadership, student opportunities, and connections between registered apprenticeships and postsecondary education. The information provided spans across K-12 and postsecondary education.

Key Takeaways

  • At least 33 states have a statewide definition of work-based learning in policy.
  • At least 24 states have a state policy allowing high school students to earn credit for work-based learning.
  • At least 38 states have state policy that either allows or requires career exploration in middle school.
  • At least 28 states have at least one financial incentive in policy for work-based learning.

Click on the topics below to see how all states approach different aspects of work-based learning through state policy, guidance and practice. To view a specific state’s approach, visit the individual state profile page.

Work-Based Learning Basics

  1. Is there a statewide definition of work-based learning in state statute or regulation?
  2. Where does the state define work-based learning activities?
  3. What entity oversees work-based learning in the state?
  4. What state entity provides guidance for work-based learning programs?
  5. Does the state guidance define quality of student work-based learning experiences?

Work-Based Learning Funding

  1. Does the state identify participation in work-based learning as a secondary education program quality indicator in their Perkins V plan?
  2. Does the state identify apprenticeships and/or work-based learning as a sector strategy in their Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act state plan?
  3. Does the state have at least one financial incentive program for work-based learning?

Middle and High School Student Work-Based Learning

  1. May schools offer career exploration in middle school?
  2. May high schools offer work-based learning?
  3. Does state policy allow students to earn credit toward graduation for work-based learning activities?

 Registered Apprenticeships and Postsecondary Education

  1. What is the registration agency for apprenticeship in the state?
  2. Is there a statewide apprenticeship program?
  3. What entity coordinates the statewide apprenticeship program?
  4. What is the role of community or technical colleges in supporting registered apprenticeships?

Click here to see all data points for all states.


Sept. 4, 2023

Education Level:

, ,

Resource Type:

Copyright 2024 / Education Commission of the States. All rights reserved.