Program Feasibility Studies Part II: How Do You Do It?

As we discussed in my last blog post, program feasibility studies present an excellent opportunity to objectively select programs that will better serve students.  So, what do you need to know as you look to drive new program development?

While there are six primary steps to follow when building a program feasibility study, additional research and analytical processes can be added throughout as appropriate. Like a detailed recipe, it is very important that all steps are conducted and the information from each step is combined, as the results from any one of the steps can produce a false indication of opportunity.  So, let’s get cooking.

  1. Student Segmentation: Start with student profiling and segmentation, determining who the target audience is, where they are located and in what quantities.
  2. Market Overview: The market definition combines student segmentation detail and a demographic overview, which can include annual job openings by program, unemployment rates, growth rates, household incomes, education attainment levels, working population counts, population age segmentation and more.
  3. Competitive Breakdown: Identify the overall density of competing programs when compared to the available potential student base.
  4. Labor Market and Economic Analysis: Compare labor statistics and trends by occupation, and combine them with other economic indicators to assess both the current situation as well as forecasts for coming years.
  5. Mapping: Construct detailed maps and map overlays of any and all data points to create a visual representation of where opportunities lie.
  6. Combine All Information: Experienced analysts should put all of the pieces together to arrive at valid conclusions.  If done correctly, the study can serve as the foundation for the marketing development process that will make your school successful.

Whether you go it alone or bring in a partner, depending on the research capabilities of your institution, research should be an integral part of the equation when deciding what programs to offer.  Happy cooking!

Rick Bentz

Rick brings 23 years of experience in market research to his role as SVP of Business Intelligence at Helix Education. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing with a minor in Finance from the University of Utah.