Just like 2016’s improvement trends, academic program creation and evaluation is top-of-mind with institutions. However, this year colleges and universities are looking to diversify their program portfolios, either through offering online or blended learning offerings, through offering micro-credentials, or by placing their bets on emerging programs.

This is just one of the trends highlighted in Hanover Research’s 2017 Industry Trend Report, which studies the impact of these improvement trends across the 800 research projects commissioned by over 300 higher education clients (Hanover’s client list includes Georgetown University, Gonzaga, Johns Hopkins, Texas A&M, and Wake Forest to name a few). Hanover’s research work spans all institutional type—four-year, community college, business schools, law schools—as well as departments like marketing, academic affairs and finance/operations.

What’s also noteworthy this year is that Hanover has gone a step further in identifying the overarching improvement trend of academic program creation and review by including a list of the top high-growth and emerging programs in higher ed at the moment.

“Facing declining enrollments and reductions in funding across key academic offerings, higher education institutions are diversifying their program offerings, experimenting with new teaching methods, and emphasizing the value in higher education to key external stakeholders,” states the report.

Here are 6 improvement trends for 2017 highlighted in the report based on college and university research projects:

1. The top priority for every institution is to expand and align their program portfolios to meet student and industry demand: Over 50 percent of Hanover’s higher ed projects in the past year focused on the creation or review of academic programs. Within this broad category, 77 percent of requests related to New Program Development, as institutions requested Hanover’s expertise in performing scans for high-demand degrees or more targeted evaluations of the feasibility of specific programs. Common programs of interest included: Master of Social Work, all degrees related to nursing, and all degrees related to nutrition/food science.

Copyright: Hanover Research

2. Institutions explored alternative delivery formats: Nearly 1 in 5 New Program Development projects either focused specifically on identifying high-demand programs that could be delivered in online formats, or included investigations of traditional, distance, and blended offerings.

3. Law schools sought to bolster their recruiting and marketing strategies: Recruiting and marketing strategies accounted for 50 percent of law schools research requests and 34 percent of business school requests in 2016.

(Next page: 3 more improvement trends; a high-demand program list)

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.


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