Credentialism is the bias of over-reliance on credentials regardless of qualification. Conceptually, it's related to the idea that schools and universities create a mind set that equates credentials with qualifications. For example, a person who has a fake doctorate of medicine might actually get a job, whereas a citizen who has studied medicine for years may not be allowed to practice in the United States.

Simply put, Credentialism is the belief that people are equal to the sum of the abbreviations after their name (PhD, MD, MCSE, etc).

There exists a debate between autodidacts and businesses about what qualifications are necessary to effectively do one's job. Some who have the credentials are not qualified, yet some who don't have the necessary credentials qualify. Only the ones with credentials are hired. Often those without credentials may start their own businesses; many corporations on the internet have their roots in this trend.

Credentials and practices acquired in one country might be discounted or less respected upon arrival to work in another country, although this is not always the case.

Credentialism as a bias is a major tenet of the Un schooling movement.

Jimmy Wales, founder of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, has suggested that contributors to the project generally tend to be "anti-credentialist".