A core element in the Office of Online Education’s vision is helping schools and departments create sustainable online programs.
Sustainability depends on there being a demand for both the programs and their graduates. An informed market analysis is critical for determining whether these demands exist.
A good rule of thumb is that a bachelor’s degree program needs to enroll 50 new students a year and a graduate programs needs to enroll 30 new students a year in order to be sustainable. Of course, these numbers can vary by program. For example, if the program costs a great deal to maintain, the required enrollments may have to be increased. But in general, programs should strive to meet (or exceed) these minimums.
To start this analysis, you should consider how many potential students will enroll in the program.
- What are their characteristics? (e.g., Are they working adults? Are they likely to have families? Will they have transfer credits or applicable work experience?)
- How you can recruit them? (e.g., broad digital advertising, professional associations, corporate outreach)
- Where do they live?
- What types of jobs will they likely pursue after completion?
- What price point will they find affordable?