Enrollment Growth Strategy Resource Center

Blueprint For Growth

Enrollment Growth Strategy Resource Center

EAB's Blueprint for Growth Initiative

Blueprint for Growth is EAB’s signature, multi-year research initiative on the future of post-secondary enrollment, both undergraduate and graduate, domestic and international, degree and alternative. This research makes bold predictions to shape our partners’ future enrollment strategy, based on cross-cutting and holistic market analysis. It goes beyond market sizing alone to uncover hidden risks and opportunities and the changing dynamics of competition, all while helping partner institutions anticipate whether and how they should grow.

Start exploring our work on growing enrollments for adult and graduate, undergraduate, and international students.

Adult and Graduate



1. Adult and Graduate Enrollments

Adult and graduate education has been a large and growing market for a long time, but growth (and revenue) is not a given for most institutions, particularly in the wake of a growing alternative credential landscape. A high tolerance for risk, along with sustained investments in marketing and recruiting, technology and student services, and specialized organizational infrastructure are all table stakes to compete for prospective students. We’re partnering with institutions to size the opportunity—and risks—present in the adult and graduate degree and alternative credential markets and identify a right-fit growth strategy.

How Big is the Adult and Grad Ed Market Overall?
Total Gross Annual U.S. Revenue Generated from Adult (25+)
Bachelor’s, Post-Bacc Certificates, and Graduate Enrollment, 18-19


Master’s Market Represents the Biggest Revenue Opportunity

Despite the projected overall slowdown, master’s enrollments are growing in the downturn.

Degree Completion a High Volume, Low Margin Market

About a quarter of adult degree completers who re-enroll eventually graduate.

Professional Doctorate Revenue Dominated by JD and MD Programs

JDs and MDs account for 68% of total revenue and nearly half of enrollments

Grad Certificates Growing Fast, but the Smallest Market

Double digit growth belies fact that there were 73K conferrals in 2019. The median number of conferrals per program is 4.

How higher ed can adapt to the changing MBA landscape

We’ve taken a critical look at the MBA programs succeeding in today’s difficult market to identify the most important program design decisions. From your admission requirements to program curriculum, learn how you can optimize your MBA’s alignment to students’ needs as well as position the program to compete against both other MBAs and emerging alternatives.

Opportunities and threats of alternative credentials

To maximize the market opportunity and minimize the disruption presented by alternative credentials, institutions will need to rethink both their investments in and approaches to post-baccalaureate programs.

Executive Guide to Certificate Market Risks and Opportunities

This whitepaper details the market trends that make it difficult for certificate enrollments to take off and profiles six successful certificate programs designed specifically to reach underserved markets, advance regional partnerships, and to continually test evolving market demand.

4 lessons for university presidents on how to grow professional and adult enrollment

Discover the takeaways from our event for college presidents that busted common myths about master’s degree growth and sized the growth potential of certificate and degree completion markets.

How to compete in the degree completion market

To help guide enrollment strategy, EAB re-sized and segmented the adult degree completion market to understand student attendance patterns and degree choices, and the realities of competing in this challenging market. Discover six takeaways about which adult degree completion students are most likely to reenroll, and why.

The New Blueprint for Growth

EAB’s researchers have taken a deep dive into the past decade of data on program enrollments and degree conferrals.

2. Undergraduate Enrollments

A global pandemic, volatile economic landscape, and looming “demographic cliff” have all created significant disruptions in the undergraduate enrollment market. The impacts of these disruptions have only been exacerbated by a decade-long rise in nonconsumption of higher education by recent high school graduates. We’re using market and competitive intelligence to identify hidden risks and opportunities to engage undergraduate learners and assist institutions in creating a sustainable enrollment strategy.

The Non-Consumer Market is Getting Bigger Every Year
Change in Ed. Attainment at 19 (2010 to 2020)

Graph of increase in higher ed non-consumers
1) Pct. of total 19-year-olds who have graduated HS
2) Pct. of HS graduates who have some college experience at age 19

Choosing the right undergraduate programs for revitalization

As colleges and universities are scrambling for opportunities to cut costs and grow revenues, academic leadership can’t afford limited information for making significant decisions. Internal data can evaluate how programs perform in terms of enrollment goals or cost efficiency, but to understand a program’s potential for performance you want to look to the external market.

How to use state demand data to launch or revitalize programs

Use state-level data to achieve more successful launches by encouraging a data-driven approach.

Employer Demand Profiles

These profiles provide a snapshot of the employer demand in each state to inform portfolio and program brainstorming discussions.

The Future of Undergrad Enrollment

In EAB’s series of roundtables, cabinet leaders learned about the most influential forces shaping the future of the enrollment landscape and how to craft a strategy to set their institution up for success.

3. International Enrollments

Once considered a “blue ocean” opportunity for revenue and enrollment growth—particularly for American institutions—the international enrollment market has seen disruptive shifts in competitive positioning, sociopolitical policy, and student migration due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, higher ed leaders must reexamine their previous assumptions and recalibrate their strategy to grow in an increasingly complex international landscape.

Our team is working with partner institutions to track ongoing shifts within the international student market and identify and leverage competitive advantages.

An Increasingly Competitive International Landscape
Leading Hosts of International Students, 2000-2020, IIE

Enrollment Growth Strategy - Percentages of international students from each country in 2000
Enrollment Growth Strategy - Percentages of international students from each country in 2020

How the COVID-19 pandemic will affect international undergraduate enrollment

Navigating the volatility in the international undergraduate enrollment landscape has been a top priority of enrollment leaders for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic—and resulting disruptions—has only made that task more challenging. In our roundtable event, we shared insights from our conversations with partners across the globe, as well as the key emerging trends that will continue to shape the international undergraduate market for years to come.

Grow international enrollment by leveraging these 3 hidden drivers

Read our key takeaways from our event, Leveraging Hidden Enrollment Drivers to Grow International Enrollment. You’ll learn about why an “inside-out” strategy will be key in a volatile recruitment landscape as well as best practices to grow enrollments.

Meet the team

We have a group of dedicated researchers focusing on the hidden risks, opportunities for growth, the current state of the competitive market, and diving into the true drivers of demand.

If you’d like to receive alerts about our latest market intelligence, or if you’d like to speak with a Blueprint for Growth researcher, please let us know.

Managing Director
Senior Director
Associate Director

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