Academic Program Innovation

This collection of resources and tools is designed to help faculty leaders and program heads revitalize existing academic programs and develop and launch new programs.

Steps to launch new and revitalize existing programs

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1. Analyze existing programs

2. Understand market trends

3. Design new programs

4. Estimate the cost of new programs

5. Change management

Why we need to innovate

Colleges and universities have always faced a tension between preserving academic traditions and adapting to a changing world. In the current environment, constrained resources, questions about the relevance of many traditional academic programs, and shifting student demand are making academic program innovation more critical than ever.

Institutions are increasingly looking for ways to revise, refresh, and improve existing programs in the hopes of avoiding budget deficits and academic program cuts. New or redesigned programs also offer an opportunity to improve student access and enhance both learning outcomes and career outcomes.

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Current barriers to innovation

Innovation is both challenging and risky. It requires collaboration, analysis, and a willingness to ask difficult questions about existing practices. Faculty who are overworked, anxious about resources, and concerned about incursions into their disciplinary autonomy are understandably hesitant to take on a new project with uncertain results.

They also typically lack the data and tools necessarily to evaluate and implement new program approaches. While the specific changes necessary for any particular program will depend on disciplinary context and market dynamics, the resources available below will help to accelerate and inform decision-making on campus.

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