Answers to the most common questions about PAE organizational design

Expert Insight

Answers to the most common questions about PAE organizational design

Over the past six years, the Professional & Adult Education Forum has benchmarked the organizational design of units for professional, continuing, and online education. We’ve created a dataset that includes over 230 colleges and universities for insight into how PAE unit organizational design can promote—or inhibit—revenue growth.

To share those findings, below are the most common questions Professional & Adult Education Forum members ask us about unit design, with up-to-date answers from the Organizational Benchmarking Initiative.

“What should I name my PAE unit?”

The names for PAE units are as varied as their program portfolios and responsibilities. In our dataset of 200+ PAE units, there are 200+ unique unit names.

Some terms and phrases stand out as more common than others. For example, a third of PAE units that offer only non-credit courses have the phrase “continuing education” in their title. Conversely, 28% of PAE units with primarily for-credit portfolios have “graduate” or “professional education” in their names.

Click here for a list of PAE unit names currently used by our members.

“Am I getting new programs to market fast enough to earn revenue?”

While many members cite slow program approval processes as impediments to growth, our data indicates little correlation between program approval speed and ultimate revenue success. Only PAE units that take more than two years to launch programs experience any adverse effects on incoming revenue. This indicates that getting programs to market quickly is not as important as getting the right programs to market. Only the few colleges and universities that take more than two years to approve new programs should expend resources and capital on campus to improve their approval process.

“Should I prioritize growing online enrollments, or expand my campus’ physical presence?”

A majority of PAE units prioritize the growth of their fully online programs as a means to reach new student audiences. Though the benefits are often overstated, many institutional leaders perceive online programs to hold the promise of greater profitability at scale and access to wider geographies of prospective students.

Fewer PAE units focus their short-term attention on expanding their physical presence, which can often require investment in costly facilities. Twenty-one percent plan to expand their satellite presences through flexible, short-term leasing arrangements to avoid long-term cost. Another 20% prioritize opening new full-service campuses, either locally or in new regions.

“What are you prioritizing most for short-term growth?” (n=229)

Access our full benchmarking resource center to answer your pressing questions

The Organizational Benchmarking Resource Center includes even more answers to common member questions like these. Access the resource center for guidance, benchmarking data for your institutional segment, or more information on receiving a customized organizational analysis.

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