Ideas, insights and inspirations.

The stakes are high when higher education institutions launch new academic programs. According to Burning Glass, a market research firm, the estimated cost of sustaining a new program over a four-year period is around $2M and only a third of them succeed. When launching new programs, college leaders are looking for recipes to ensure success and avoid failure. Here at Elliance, we advise our clients to consider the 7 P’s: program, price, place, prospects, professors & program chairs, promotion, and process. Here is what we recommend: P R O G R A M New program launches follow the law of supply and demand. The higher the demand for program graduates and lower the supply of colleges offering the program, the higher the chance of success. Analyze data from the Department of Education and the Department of Labor to assess the competitors and the demand for your new program’s graduates. On rare occasions, if you have an insider’s view of a … Continue reading

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I recently came across an article from Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor, discussing the success and failure rates for new products. He shared that about 30,000 new products are introduced every year, and a whopping 95% fail.  This made me wonder about the success and failure rate of new academic programs at colleges and universities. After some digging, I found a study by Burning Glass, a market research firm, titled “Bad Bets: The High Cost of Failing Programs in Higher Education.” They analyzed graduation data for the 10,536 new undergraduate and graduate degree programs that were launched in 2010-2011. In 2018, they took a snapshot of graduates to assess the success and failure of these programs. Sobering Data This is what they discovered: about a third of the programs weren’t graduating any students; roughly half were graduating fewer than five students; and two thirds of the programs produced fewer than ten graduates. That’s pretty sobering considering the estimated cost of … Continue reading

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The pace of spinning out new academic programs at colleges and universities is increasing. Over the years, we’ve helped clients launch and market several new degrees. Some have been wildly successful, some mildly so and others just sputter along. What’s the difference between success and failure? In my view, God is in the details. Everyone knows that the overall process is pretty straightforward: you assess the opportunity, plan the rollout, and execute the launch. I’ll share a story of a program that applied this logic and almost didn’t take off. And how we turned it around to become a runaway success. This is the story of Carnegie Mellon’s MS in Product Management. Assess the Opportunity Most colleges hire a market research firm to analyze data from the Department of Education and the Department of Labor to assess the competitive landscape and the demand for graduates. Carnegie Mellon approached it differently. Carnegie Mellon’s former Dean of the School of Computer Science … Continue reading

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