Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Designer Degrees

Where is education headed?

State-funded education continues to get hammered as budgets are cut. Colleges and universities will be "eating their seed corn" or dipping into the "rainy day" funds. And it's a vicious circle - laying off adjunct professors, which were the solution to the last budget crunch, means limiting enrollment caps, which means people can't get in, they can't take what they need, and they can't get out on time. High unemployment means both more students and less tax revenue. Education is being squeezed like a week-old lime; there's nothing left to give.

Kaplan (client), with its reverse articulation agreements with community colleges, is on the right track for some of the structural problems of education.

From a product perspective it might be time for a new marketing strategy: Designer Degrees

The only higher education degrees that are in demand, have students paying rack rates, don't have huge infrastructure costs and be created quickly based on contemporary needs are the "Master's". The once and former mark of failure or esoteric job requirements, i.e. flunked out of a PhD program or were in Social Work, these are now becoming products in their own right. In the past we’ve worked on general Master’s degrees like MBAs. Today we’re seeing the rise of specialist degrees. Recent articles in both the Wall Street Journal and NYT give credence to this trend and often stress the technical or specialist skills that they provide.

All categories fragment. The time appears to be ripe based on economics and market needs for this pattern to accelerate in the post-graduate world. The marketing challenge is learning how to develop and market tightly-focused programs.

From the beat of the wings of a butterfly comes the Master's in Jurisprudence in HealthCare (another client) targeted to hospital compliance professionals.

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