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Graduate Education Forum

What kind of marketing investment is required to support enrollment targets for online/hybrid programs?

There is no simple answer to this question. Schools are not obliged to report marketing spend, and there are lots of definitional inconsistencies that hamper straightforward comparisons. In simple terms, the larger a school wants enrollment to be- relative to the starting point- the bigger the marketing investment. Equally, the more distinctive and in-demand the program, the “easier” and ultimately more efficient marketing tends to be. Most schools spend <5% of revenue on marketing. Large, high-growth schools- notably the large for-profits and SNHU- spend 20-30% of revenue on marketing (including staff). That's just a rough guide but gives a sense of scale. (Eduventures 10/11/17)

How does looking at the educational requirements (more so the years of experience/career experience) factor into the growing trends of grad education?

Not sure I fully understand this question. If the question is whether the work experience of graduate students counts for more than in the past, I think that’s true, if only because the graduate student body is more diverse and more applied than in the past. Admissions requirements that play up academic performance and play down career experience will result in a particular applicant pool and may limit enrollment growth. Of course, the right entry requirements depends on the program in question and the target audience. (Eduventures 10/11/17)

Can you give us some insight into the organizational models that are in place for administration of co-locational graduate programs (online and F2F)? Example: separate college? Dept. by Dept.?

The second CHLOE survey (Changing Landscape of Online Education)- a joint initiative between Eduventures and Quality Matters- found the following organizational breakdown for management of online learning. (Eduventures 10/11/17)

How are online programs managed and budgeted at your institution?

Institutional Type Institutional Online Campus or Division Continuing Education Infrastructure/Support is Central, Programming is Distributed Distributed Across Academic Units Wide Variation Other
Public 2Y 15% 2% 49% 24% 5% 5%
Public 4Y 11% 7% 51% 16% 7% 8%
Private 4Y 17% 14% 40% 12% 10% 8%

This survey covered 182 institutions (and a report will be published early 2018). The Private 4Y responses span a great deal of institutional diversity. Somewhat greater tendency for centralization may reflect institutions that are less union bound but also those that see some sort of distinct online unit as a useful innovation device. (Eduventures 10/11/17)

For top schools in grad education market, do you have information on market share over time – showing impact to lesser known players as better known institutions develop programming and enter marker (e.g., Harvard, NYU)?

This is an interesting question. I do think- and expect- to see the alignment of top school brands and online learning driving enrollment out-performance, in cases where the institution wants to grow. For many years, top schools were generally absent from most online program markets, but that has changed significantly over the past few years. The question then becomes whether the online market will “normalize” in favor of top brands, or whether other schools will find ways to innovate online that create new brands and drive growth quite apart from conventional notions of quality and prestige. (Eduventures 10/11/17)

Are growth numbers inclusive of certificate programs? Do you have information/comparison of growth/trends in masters programs vs. certificates?

I called out certificate conferrals on slide 6 of my presentation, alongside those for master’s degrees. There is no official count of certificate enrollments, but my estimate is 189,000 in 2015/16 (versus about 2.65 million for master’s). The slide indicates that certificate conferrals (and therefore enrollments) have grown much faster than at master’s level, if from a much smaller base. Discrete knowledge and skills, plus reduced cost and time, is the appeal, I think. (Eduventures 10/11/17)

Do you have information on pricing – correlation to market share?

The graduate market is very diverse by price, which reflects an array of target audiences and needs. Schools have done well and poorly at a range of price points. An understanding of how price relates to value- real and perceived- is key to explaining market share, as well as factors like marketing, competition and desire/ability to grow. It is possible to look at a specific program area and examine pricing strategies used by institutions in that market- national or regional- and subsequent enrollment patterns. Happy to discuss down the road if of interest. (Eduventures 10/11/17)