What makes a new program at a college or university successful? Doing market research first. Colleges and universities want to offer programs students are interested in, but these programs also need to provide opportunities for success.
Wondering how colleges and universities know what students are interested in?
Wondering how colleges and universities know if a program will create a successful career path?
Below is an inside look at the three components of program feasibility research for higher education. The three components include a market analysis, interviews with employers, and a survey with potential students.
Learn more below about how higher education institutions know it is on the right track when vetting new programs to offer students. All of this is accomplished through what is called a higher education program feasibility study for a college or university.
Here's the guide to program feasibility research for higher education institutions.
Component #1: Market Analysis and Competitive Assessment
The market analysis in program feasibility research for higher education answers questions about job growth and demand.
Higher education market research companies review the Bureau of Labor Statistics for relevant market job growth and job potential. This is completed by tying the program of interest to potential occupations in the field. This is a critical piece of the program feasibility study because it ties demand data to feedback from the primary research.
Additionally, it is important to examine state-wide and national degree completion trends. This provides additional insights on student demand for each degree program.
As part of this secondary research, extensive profiles are created for competitive institutions in the market area which offer similar degree programs. Information is gathered on features, messaging, and enrollment of each of these competitive offerings. This lends competitive insight as to how many programs in the area are offering similar degrees and what the enrollment looks like for those degrees.
Component #2: Interviews with Employers
Before a new program can be offered by a higher education institution, it is important to have discussions with employers who could potentially hire these graduates. These discussions are referred to as in-depth interviews (IDIs).
The goal of the interviews is to gain insight from the target audience with relation to program successes and barriers. Oftentimes, a market research firm will target invitations to participate in the IDIs to ensure employers meet all qualifying criteria (e.g., knowledge of the subject area, authority to hire or influence hiring, etc.).
These one-on-one interviews may be conducted with 5 to 8 employers either in-person or over the phone. Each interview lasts between 15 to 20 minutes, which allows for roughly 15 questions. To encourage participation, market research companies recommend each participant be paid an honorarium as a thank you for the feedback (e.g. $75 cash). This can be accepted or donated to a charity of the participant's choice.
Component #3: Survey with Prospective Students
Another component of new program feasibility research for higher education institutions is getting feedback from prospective students to gauge their interest in the program.
This survey will address the key objectives of the program feasibility study including recommended questions based on past higher education program feasibility experience. Qualifying criteria will be created to ensure the survey reaches the target audience.
Surveys with prospective students should take 3 to 5 minutes to complete which allows for roughly 10 questions. To encourage participation, it is recommended participants be offered an honorarium as a thank you for sharing their feedback (e.g. raffle to win 1 of 5 $50 Amazon gift cards).
Looking for tips on how to write a survey? We've got you covered.
Contact Our Higher Education Market Research Team
Drive Research is a national market research firm located in Upstate New York. Our team has worked in a variety of industries including higher education. Here's more about the industries Drive Research specializes in and the custom market research services offered.
Want to contact our team about a program feasibility study?
Here are a few ways to contact us.