academic research innovation

6 characteristics of an innovative university

Hanover Research pulls together comprehensive improvement trends report based on college and university research projects; lists high-demand programs.

4. Community colleges focused on driving student success and retention: About 30 percent of projects requested by community colleges focused on Student Success and Retention topics, including developmental education, English as a Second Language, closing achievement gaps, and student persistence to degree completion.

5. Departmental research prioritized Academic Program Management and Recruiting and Marketing Strategy: Compared to other departments, Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management had the highest frequencies of requests for projects related to Academic Program Management (with 63 percent and 58 percent respectively). Similarly, requests for projects related to Recruiting and Marketing Strategy were most frequently requested by Finance and Operations and Marketing and Communications departments (with 31 percent and 37 percent respectively).

Copyright: Hanover Research

6. The most common research method applied to address institutions’ challenges was secondary research (59 percent), including literature reviews, best practice studies, environmental studies, and market evaluations. However, 36 percent of project requests featured primary research (surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups), while 11 percent involved quantitative data analysis (non-survey data segmentation, regression modeling, and trend forecasting).

The Most High-Growth and In-Demand Emerging Programs in Higher Ed

Thanks to Hanover’s proprietary New Program Opportunity Dashboard, colleges and universities can spot “high-growth” and “potentially emerging” programs, based on the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) and total number of degree conferrals between 2011 and 2015 (full definitions of high-growth and potentially emerging are listed in the report). Full methodology of the Dashboard is explained in the report.

According to the report’s sneak peek section, some of the “high-growth” programs to watch in 2017 include:


  • Registered Nursing, Nursing Admin, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing
  • Biology, General
  • Criminal Justice and Corrections
  • Health and Physical Education/Fitness
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • (More are listed in the report)


  • Registered Nursing, Nursing Admin, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing
  • Social Work
  • Accounting and Related Services
  • Public Health
  • Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
  • (More are listed in the report)

Some of the “potentially emerging” programs in 2017 include:


  • Homeland Security
  • Cognitive Science
  • Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering
  • Human Biology
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • (More are listed in the report)


  • Homeland Security
  • Research and Experimental Psychology
  • Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Services
  • Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management
  • Applied Mathematics
  • (More are listed in the report)

For much more information, including methodology and case profiles, read the full report here.

"(Required)" indicates required fields