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How to attract students across your entire education master’s program portfolio

3 marketing strategies to draw in your key audience

April 9, 2024, By Joe Infantino, Associate Director, Research

While education master’s programs saw growth prior to the pandemic, those enrollment gains have ended over the past few years. National Student Clearinghouse and EAB research shows that enrollment numbers for these programs increased by 4% from 2019 to 2020. But CGS reports an 8.8% enrollment decrease from 2021 to 2022, which reflects a challenging new market for education programs to navigate.

  • 52%

    Of education master’s degrees conferred in 2021 were in specialized fields.

To fill your programs in this climate, it’s essential to attract students across various specialized areas. According to IPEDS data, 52% of education master’s degrees conferred in 2021 were in specialized fields such as administration, special ed, and education by level (in other words, teaching a specified age group). This shows that in today’s market, many students are looking to advance their career by pursuing a specialized degree. Here are 3 marketing strategies to help you take advantage of this trend.

Identify and promote the specific marketable skills you offer

Prospective students can be skeptical about what their return on investment would be if they returned to school. Highlighting specific transferable skills in your program marketing can address those concerns. Most education students across the board would be interested in learning capabilities that keep them at the forefront of employer demand. For example, special education instruction courses teach skills like behavior analysis and managing a classroom inclusive of different learning abilities, but those skills would be relevant in any classroom today.

Consider whether your program features courses that instill transferrable, marketable skills that education students could add to their resumé. Emphasize these proficiencies in your marketing to attract students who are looking to develop versatile skill sets to advance in their workplace. This can help position your programs as hubs for professional development and career growth, regardless of what students plan to do with their master’s degree.

Two tables comparing the degree market

Learn how your team can nurture leads more effectively


Share student success stories

No one tells your story better than your students and alumni. Adult students are pragmatic, but to decide to attend a program, they also need to see social proof—evidence that students like them can succeed in your program. Many graduate and adult students balance other responsibilities such as a full-time job or family duties with their education and may not believe they can handle both. Featuring student success stories on your .edu site can create awareness around your programs while demonstrating that students can succeed in your program, regardless of what else may be on their plate.

Collect testimonials from students in your specialized programs in the form of direct written quotes or video interviews. These formats allow them to tell their story in their own words. Ensure the stories include specific information about how the skills they’ve gained in your program have helped them in their careers.

Maximize your lead generation reach

Finding education students looking to advance their career can be complicated. With more students exhibiting stealth shopping behaviors, it’s harder to identify who your prospects are and what they are looking for. This trend means you must maximize your reach to find the right students for your education programs.

Are you optimizing your lead generation sources?

Integrating external sources into your lead generation strategy is one way to strengthen your program’s reach. For example, Appily Advance uses a diversified acquisition strategy to maximize your lead volume, but also your lead quality. Appily sources high-intent students who are interested in many areas of education, including specialized fields, and delivers our partners the leads that best serve their interests and goals.

The pandemic may have reshaped the landscape of enrollment growth for education master’s programs, but there are still opportunities to stand out in this challenging market. Adapting your marketing strategy to recruit students to your specialized programs can help you navigate the evolving challenges of the education field.

Joe Infantino

Associate Director, Research

Read Bio

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