boom in online education

Post-secondary online academic offerings are certainly not a new concept. The topic has, however, crossed our radar more frequently over the last year than in the past. With college enrollment numbers on the decline, administrators are angling for ways to combat rising costs and garner renewed interest among prospective populations. It’s no secret that the higher education space is shifting. Millennials are staying in college longer to increase their competitiveness in the marketplace, and they’ve been leaders in the shift towards online learning. As Generation Z moves through the post-secondary pipeline, digital learning is expected to be the norm. The mix of recent high school graduates and mid-career professionals that have a thorough understanding of technology, but varied academic needs occupying the same institutional space will stack the deck in favor of online program offerings. As colleges and universities begin to explore this opportunity, we’re seeing heightened interest in investigating the long-term viability of online programs.

Recently, our clients have expressed an interest in the following with relation to online programs:

  • The feasibility of offering current academic programs in a fully online or hybrid format
  • Satellite location feasibility for hybrid offerings
  • New program feasibility of an online-only program
  • Enrollment projection
  • Research with individuals who inquired, but failed to enroll in the institution

The assist our clients with this research, we’ve taken several approaches.

  • We’re conducting more program feasibility studies than ever before. RMS is talking to local employers, prospective students, and workforce development personnel about academic preferences and current labor market needs, and we’re reviewing labor data to uncover projections about future need.
  • Our clients are eager to locate affordable satellite locations for hybrid programs, and identify potential partnership opportunities with local businesses to reduce operating costs. Our team of experienced researchers is identifying potential locations, considering factors such as cost, occupancy rate, and availability (among others).
  • Interest in enrollment projections is also on the rise. Institutions want to know more than a level of interest among the target audience. They want to see a projection of future enrollment to provide a deeper understand of long-term viability.
  • More institutions are investing in research to understand the motivations behind the individuals who made an inquiry with the college but ultimately did not enroll in a course or program. Leveraging this pocket of the market allows institutions to convert those who have not yet enrolled elsewhere, or are dissatisfied with their experience at a competitor institution.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our higher education market research services, please contact the Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at or by calling 1-866-567-5422.