How Northeastern University gets a 360-degree view of program performance

Faculty members and marketing, research, and frontline staff all offer unique perspectives on a program’s strengths and opportunities for improvement, but COE leaders often struggle to effectively engage these stakeholders in the program review process.

When a program’s enrollment begins to slow, stagnate, or decline, individuals from all these groups should give input on potential solutions. Though faculty members possess a wealth of knowledge related to program content and student profile, marketers, enrollment managers, and recruiters likewise possess key insights related to a program’s market size, competitive positioning, and prospective student demand.

Why seek guidance from the full program team?

Staff members from various departments each offer their unique insights on program performance:

  • Faculty members can help the marketing team understand a program’s strengths, competitive advantages, and value propositions, and also provide a robust perspective on the ideal student’s goals and motivations for enrollment
  • Marketing staff keep their focus on the customer, building detailed prospective student profiles and sizing the recruitment pool to craft impactful messages and optimize campaigns
  • Frontline staff, perhaps the most overlooked source of program and market insight, provide invaluable observations about program strengths, weaknesses, and barriers to enrollment directly from the voice of prospective students

Further, in conversations with prospective students who ultimately decide to seek other academic offerings, frontline staff can serve a vital program development function by surfacing in-demand programs not yet offered by the institution.

To understand program performance, leaders of Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) use a role-specific questionnaire to solicit insight from all of these groups.

Seeking Guidance from the Full Program Team

Seeking guidance from the full program team

'Refreshing' outdated programs

Many programs require only small adjustments to curriculum, schedule, or marketing messaging, but over time some steady state programs can become fundamentally misaligned with market demand. After extensive program review, CPS leaders at Northeastern identified one program with numerous opportunities for improvement.

The program anonymized below provides an example of how Northeastern’s program review process can revitalize enrollment growth. Once a flagship program in the portfolio, it had become outdated in name, content, and delivery, and lacked internal champions to shepherd any major refresh initiatives.

3 Benefits to Enhanced Programmatic Assessment

Three Benefits to Enhanced Programmatic Assessments

Following review and the decision to invest in a new faculty line for the program, CPS and program leadership decided on a three-part plan of action:

  • Change the program's name
  • Update and adjust its curriculum to create new concentrations better aligned with employer demand
  • Transition the program to fully online format

Just three years after the refresh, the program achieved impressive enrollment growth.

No one group, be it faculty, marketing, enrollment management, or frontline staff, fully understands every component of program health. Only through combining these perspectives and insights can COE units realize maximum performance.

Put these insights into practice with our 360-Degree Program Assessment Template

You've got the strategy—now you need the tools to put it into practice. Download our 360-Degree Program Assessment Template for a ready-to-use resource designed to help you solicit insight from faculty members, marketing, and frontline staff separately. Download the resource.

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