Expert reveals secret to creating new college programs FAST

The secret to spinning up new college programs fast and with little funding? Concentrate.

In light of the ever-increasingly competitive market of higher ed, many institutions are seeking solutions to increase their relevance and competitiveness in the field. One of these solutions is often new college program development.

On the surface, developing new programs seems a commonsense way to adapt with the changing times. Modern-day technologies are giving way to new specializations such as marketing analytics and business intelligence, and institutions are eager to capitalize on these emerging fields. Yet the lengthy and costly process required to implement an entirely new program poses a major barrier for those seeking a competitive edge. Curriculum development, accreditation, faculty resource expansion, and marketing all put pressure on an institution’s time and finances—pressure that simply cannot be absorbed by many organizations.

A New College Program Creation Model

Yet, what if there was a way to offer instruction in new and emerging disciplines while loosening the restrictions of time and money? Considering this question led to a model focused on market opportunity and resource scale. By invoking this model, we were able to lead an institution to the launch of as many as seven new online programs, undergraduate and graduate, for market promotion with the creation of only six new courses. 

This approach is as simple as it is resourceful: program concentrations.

(Next page: New college programs from concentrations how-to guide)

Let’s revisit the aforementioned specialization of marketing analytics. Marketing analytics is a hot, sought-after focus that provides a major opportunity for students seeking an edge in the workforce. While this specialization targets a specific aspect of marketing, much of the content needed for a degree in marketing analytics could fall under the larger umbrellas of business, marketing, or communication.

By first identifying existing programs with potentially overlapping curriculum, the arduous task of implementing a new program simply becomes a matter of introducing a new concentration. Thus, an MBA with a concentration in Marketing Analytics is born.

Myriad Benefits for Time, Budget and Marketing

This approach features many benefits. The first and most obvious benefit is the reduced strain on both faculty and financial resources. While a new program might require ground-up instructional design for a large number of credit hours, a new concentration would incorporate existing coursework and reduce the number of new courses needed.

As opposed to a new program which might require an entirely new faculty, the few new courses may either be absorbed by existing faculty members or require only a small number of new hires. The reduced number of new courses also adds expedience to the process, and new concentrations can be ready to execute in a matter of months.

Another benefit of the concentration approach is expanded access to new markets. With the addition of a few concentrations, institutions can open an MBA program to students interested in related subjects such as marketing analytics, HR analytics, business intelligence, and more. And by adding concentrations related those subjects, institutions can cast a wider net with their marketing efforts by capitalizing on key search phrases. Terms like “Master’s in HR”, “HR Analytics Master’s”, and “Master’s in Marketing Analytics” now all lead to landing pages for each concentration of the existing MBA program.

In this way, the new concentration not only mitigates the pressure on instructional design and resources, but it also unlocks a number of marketing opportunities.

Undoubtedly, there are occasions when it makes sense to implement new academic programs. Whether you’ve shifted the aims of your strategic vision or added departments, centers, or colleges to your institution, you may best reach your goals with new programs. The concentration approach, however, provides an expedient and low-cost alternative for those looking to cater to new markets and new disciplines.

eSchool Media Contributors