Adult Learner Recruitment Case Study Compendium

Adult Learner Recruitment
Case Study Compendium

Delivering Enrollment Results for Graduate, Online, and Adult Degree Completion Programs

This compendium features a diverse set of stories from graduate, professional, online, and adult degree completion programs that partner with EAB. Our Adult Learner Recruitment initiative provides market research, consumer analytics, intent-marketing, and strategic consulting practices to over 140 institutional partners around the country. Our support enables schools to optimize their program portfolios, expand their inquiry pool of right-fit prospects, and ultimately, achieve an 18% average increase in enrollment after one year of partnership.

Whether the school* is large or small, public or private, each of these stories highlights an institution that has achieved enrollment results by partnering with EAB. Learn about the challenges schools are facing, the services and solutions EAB provides them with, and the impact our partnership has made in helping them find, engage, and enroll their best-fit students.

Explore case studies by school type:

*School names are pseudonyms

Graduate partners

About: Walnut State is a medium-sized HBCU in the Mid-Atlantic with a total graduate enrollment of about 1,500 students.

Challenge: While Walnut State was already meeting enrollment goals, they sought to optimize their online graduate program portfolio to better serve their students as part of their mission and strategic plan.

Solution: To help Walnut State achieve their mission, EAB conducted custom research to identify the biggest market needs and gaps in Walnut State’s portfolio. EAB also launched highly personalized and responsive, full-funnel campaigns to nurture prospective students through to enrollment.

Impact: While enrollment growth was not their primary goal, EAB’s marketing campaigns helped Walnut State see a 13% increase in new students for their online graduate programs in three years. Walnut State also developed new programs as a result of EAB’s market analyses, allowing them to better serve current and future adult learners and improve their brand.


Increase in new student enrollment.

About: Fig is a medium-sized private university in the South, with a total graduate enrollment of under 1,000.

Challenge: Fig University was struggling to meet their graduate enrollment goals as they expanded their program offerings and modalities due in part to a small staff and limited audience generation strategy.

Solution: To meet Fig’s growth goals, EAB expanded Fig’s pool of right-fit prospects by adding new audience sources and expanding upon existing sources. EAB also launched highly personalized and responsive, full-funnel campaigns to nurture prospects through to enrollment.

Impact: In three years of partnership with EAB, Fig University saw A 29% increase in domestic enrollment, contributing to a 6:1 multi-year return on investment.


increase in domestic enrollments.

About: Olive State University is a public research university located in the South, with a total enrollment of approximately 30,000 students, including about 1,600 online graduate students.

Challenge: Olive State University launched a portfolio of online graduate programs with high aspirations for enrollment. In part due to a lack of adult learner marketing expertise and limited staff capacity, they did not meet their online enrollment goals and turned to EAB as an extension of their team.

Solution: Olive State University partnered with EAB to expand their audience, target best-fit prospects, and appeal directly to adult learners with customized and responsive marketing for their online graduate programs.

Impact: Despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, working with EAB allowed Olive State University to increase their new online graduate enrollment by 37%, contributing to about 15% overall growth in online graduate enrollment.


Of applications influenced by EAB

About: Cyprus University is a private, religious university located outside a large city in the Midwest.

Challenge: Located in a highly competitive market, Cyprus Graduate School struggled to expand enrollment to meet their ambitious goals for on-the-ground and online program growth. They turned to EAB, their longtime undergraduate enrollment partner, for an innovative new approach to graduate targeting and recruitment.

Solution: During the first 13 months of the partnership, EAB’s Adult Learner Recruitment division used consumer analytics to identify a large new audience of Cyprus’s right-fit students, then launched multichannel campaigns to grow awareness among that population. For the 2019 cycle, EAB supported new and existing program growth by launching highly personalized, full-funnel multichannel campaigns to guide prospects through the student journey.

Impact: By fall 2019, Cyprus had increased headcount by nearly 400 students, with 30% of all enrollments that year influenced by EAB’s Adult Learner Recruitment campaigns.


total clicks from EAB's 2019 digital campaigns

About: Dogwood State University is a public research university located in the South, with a total enrollment of approximately 27,000 students, including 3,500 graduate students.

Challenge: Dogwood State’s graduate enrollment strategy relied heavily on the re-recruitment of current undergraduate students and alumni. However, due to a plateau in undergraduate enrollment in recent years, as well as limited marketing resources and staff, Dogwood State struggled to expand graduate enrollment.

Solution: Dogwood State partnered with EAB to find and engage new graduate audiences. EAB expanded Dogwood State’s audience of best-fit students across multiple sources and supported Dogwood State in nurturing prospects across the student journey with multichannel, intent-based campaigns.

Impact: After their first year of partnership with EAB, Dogwood State’s application volume increased by 10%. In addition to promoting application and enrollment growth in Dogwood State’s high-priority education and health sciences programs, EAB’s campaigns contributed to growth across 8 other target programs. Overall, graduate enrollments grew by 6%.


net tuition revenue influenced by EAB


average ROI for graduate partners


in net tuition revenue influenced by EAB

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About: Pecan State is a public research university in the Northeast, with a graduate enrollment of about 2,000 students.

Challenge: Given resource constraints, Pecan State’s marketing team was spread thin and focused primarily on undergraduate recruitment and marketing, while graduate recruitment efforts were deployed on an ad hoc basis. Pecan State did not have the bandwidth for consistent graduate recruitment efforts across channels, making it difficult for Pecan State to meet their graduate enrollment goals.

Solution: EAB’s team of experts used digital advertising, consumer analytics, and list buys to expand Pecan State’s audience of right-fit students. As an extension of Pecan State’s marketing team, EAB also launched multichannel, highly personalized campaigns to nurture prospects through to enrollment.

Impact: Pecan State’s growth exceeded the national average in their first two years of partnership with EAB. In that time period, EAB influenced 415 graduate enrollments, helping Pecan State increase fall enrollment by 8%, and achieve a 5:1 return on investment.


Net tuition revenue influenced by EAB campaigns

About: Mahogany University is a large, public university in the Northeast, with a graduate enrollment of about 5,000.

Challenge: Mahogany had historically focused on undergraduate programs, but recently centralized the structure of their graduate college. With limited experience in graduate marketing, they needed support to reach their goal of doubling graduate enrollment in 10 years. Mahogany also sought to establish their brand in the graduate space, enroll more students from outside their region, and expand its data science programs to meet demand from local elected officials and employers.

Solution: EAB grew Mahogany’s audience of right fit prospects by adding new lead sources and expanding upon existing sources. EAB also supported the launch of a new data science program and cultivated growth for existing programs by launching highly personalized and responsive full funnel campaigns to nurture prospects through to enrollment, with especially effective deadline email campaigns.

Impact: After two years of partnership with EAB, Mahogany saw a 2 4 % increase in fall enrollments, contributing to a 6:1 ROI.


of enrollments influenced by EAB

Specialized graduate partners

Includes pharmacy, medical, and other specialized graduate schools, excluding business and law schools

About: Juniper College is a small, private healthcare-centric institution in the East with a total enrollment of approximately 2,000 students, including about 200 graduate students.

Challenge: Juniper is a tuition-revenue-dependent institution, so when their enrollment and revenue started to decline, they needed to adjust their strategy or risk having to lay off staff. Juniper aimed to grow enrollment in their nursing and healthcare administration graduate programs by diversifying their audience generation strategy and better nurturing students to enrollment.

Solution: To grow enrollment and revenue, EAB helped Juniper expand their best-fit prospect audience and increase application volume by launching strategic, multichannel campaigns that implemented intent marketing. EAB experts also held workshops to educate staff on communication and engagement best practices and recommended high-impact improvements to Juniper’s communication strategy.

Impact: After two years of partnership with EAB, Juniper’s enrollment increased by 130%.


Total enrollment influenced by EAB

About: Hazel University is a private graduate institution in the Midwest that specializes in medicine and health sciences.

Challenge: Historically, Hazel had relied on basic email communications and graduate fairs to recruit for their pharmacy program. However, with increased competition and declines in pharmacy enrollment nationally, Hazel aimed to grow pharmacy program enrollment by partnering with EAB to deploy a more sophisticated, comprehensive outreach strategy.

Solution: EAB helped Hazel grow their best-fit prospect audience through data-informed targeting. They then helped Hazel engage all relevant audiences using intent-based, multichannel campaigns. During the pandemic, EAB helped Hazel continue to build relationships with interested prospects with paid search campaigns and consistent updates throughout the crisis.

Impact: EAB’s campaigns helped Hazel increase pharmacy program deposits by 23% compared to 2019.


increase in pharmacy program deposits

About: Elm University is a private, graduate university in the Midwest that specializes in medicine and biomedical sciences.

Challenge: After several years of steady growth, Elm’s MS in Biomedical Sciences program suddenly faced stiff competition for the 2019 enrollment cycle due to the launch of 12 similar programs from competitors in one year. At the same time, enrollment in their PsyD program had experienced a 33% drop in 2018 due to increased local competition. To meet ambitious growth goals, Elm decided they needed to expand recruitment efforts nationally.

Solution: Elm partnered with EAB to add expertise and capacity to their relatively small staff in support of their growth goals. Using data-driven targeting strategies, EAB helped Elm identify new right-fit students for their PsyD and MS in Biomedical Sciences programs, then launched integrated, multichannel campaigns to drive applications and enrollment.

Impact: EAB’s campaigns quickly generated large application volumes from existing and new markets, helping Elm enroll their largest cohort ever.


increase in submitted applications in 2019


average ROI for specialized graduate partners


in net tuition revenue influenced by EAB

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About: Hickory University is a private university located in a metropolitan area in the West. Their college of education offers a variety of graduate and doctoral degrees and enrolls approximately 800 students.

Challenge: Hickory’s college of education faced declining enrollment due to increased local and national competition. In-state enrollment was experiencing particularly severe declines due to decreases in application volume.

Solution: As EAB had been a longstanding undergraduate enrollment partner, Hickory opted to work with EAB Adult Learner Recruitment to grow enrollment for their college of education. EAB helped Hickory strategically widen their prospect pool via analytically informed targeting expansions. EAB then launched integrated, multichannel campaigns to ensure robust application and enrollment results.

Strategies for Expanding List Targeting:

  • Saturate local market

  • Identify latent potential in secondary markets

  • Augment lists via focused national search

Impact: During the first year of the partnership, out-of-state enrollment increased by 31%, boosting overall enrollment by 9%. Over the second year, Hickory has experienced growth throughout the funnel, with a 25% overall increase in current deposits.

About: Red Pine University is a public university located in a metropolitan area in the West. Their College of Pharmacy enrolls about 260 students.

Challenge: With the dramatic decline of students enrolling in pharmacy schools nationwide, coupled with increased competition in nearby areas, Red Pine University experienced severe drops in pharmacy program enrollment.

Solution: Red Pine knew that the shifting market required a more strategic approach to marketing, but they lacked the staff capacity and expertise to effectively revamp their strategy. They partnered with EAB to introduce a more personalized and integrated approach that would increase engagement, application activity, and ultimately enrollment.

Impact: Red Pine saw substantial growth in application volume and yield rate, leading to a 27% increase in enrolled students in one year.


increase in enrollment


increase in applications

About: Cherry State University is a large public institution located in a metropolitan area in the Northeast.

Challenge: Cherry State University’s Master of Social Work program aimed to grow enrollment, especially among out-of-state students.

Solution: Since Cherry State had a small recruitment team with limited marketing experience, they partnered with EAB to find a larger, more national best-fit prospect audience and to engage prospects at scale. EAB identified new audiences to contact, including recommending a data-driven approach to test-taker targeting. They also helped Cherry State engage their prospects through personalized, multichannel intent marketing campaigns. In addition, EAB offered strategic guidance on recruitment best practices and helped Cherry State quickly pivot their marketing messaging during COVID-19.

EAB Supported Recruitment with Marketing and Strategic Guidance:

  • Expanded, data-driven targeting

  • Intent marketing at scale

  • Recruitment best practices

  • Crisis response messaging

Impact: EAB’s efforts helped Cherry State grow social work program enrollment by 10% overall, with a 64% increase in out-of-state students.

Business schools

About: Larch University is a public university with a business school enrollment of about 400 students.

Challenge: Larch University developed a unique and competitive MBA program but faced enrollment challenges given its rural location. With a small marketing team, a small regional population, and budget cuts, Larch struggled to market and build awareness for their MBA program.

Solution: Larch partnered with EAB, who recommended and implemented a data-driven expansion of lead sources, strategic deadline marketing, and personalized, multichannel campaigns that improved messaging on the MBA program’s unique value proposition.

Impact: EAB helped Larch double application volume from 2020 to 2022 at a time when business school applications were down 3.4% globally. This led to a 45% increase in enrollment. With this additional revenue, Larch was able to save several faculty positions that were at risk due to budget cuts.

About: Balsa University is a private university located in a metropolitan area in the South. Their college of business enrolls approximately 700 students across master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs.

Challenge: Balsa’s College of Business began to experience enrollment declines after years of strong, steady enrollment due to outdated marketing tactics and a disjointed program development strategy.

Solution: Balsa partnered with EAB’s Adult Learner Recruitment in 2019 to support their growth goals for the College of Business. EAB helped Balsa recruit best-fit students and grow applications through personalized, intent-based marketing. EAB also worked with Balsa to identify programs with the highest growth potential and made suggestions on the positioning of these programs.

Impact: EAB’s campaigns doubled application and admit volume for the 2020 cycle, while EAB’s strategic market and portfolio planning services helped Balsa restructure their business admissions requirements, improve program pages on their website, and develop a strategy for future growth.

"We’re in a really good position right now. A lot of this can be attributed to EAB."

Executive Vice President

Balsa University

About: Beech University is a private, primarily graduate-serving institution in the South.

Challenge: Due to increased competition, Beech’s College of Business experienced a 32% decline in graduate enrollment over four years. They partnered with EAB Adult Learner Recruitment in 2018 to increase leads and enrollment within their online MBA and several other graduate business programs.

Solution: EAB helped Beech identify a large volume of new right-fit prospects, then launched integrated multichannel campaigns to maximize applications and enrollments among those audiences. For the 2020 enrollment cycle, EAB enhanced multichannel outreach further with highly personalized, intent-based campaigns for the student journey, helping Beech continue to engage prospects during the pandemic.

Impact: EAB’s campaigns influenced 228 new enrollments in 2019, representing a 6:1 return on investment. Despite disruption from COVID-19 in the 2020 cycle, EAB’s student journey marketing helped Beech outperform their summer enrollment goal by 9%.


above enrollment goal for Summer 2020


average ROI for business schools


in net tuition revenue influenced by EAB

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Law schools

About: Holly University is a medium-sized, private university in the Mid-Atlantic, with a law school enrollment of about 400.

Challenge: Holly’s School of Law was experiencing a decline in enrollment. Law school leadership sought to turn their enrollment around and increase the quality of their incoming class. However, their admissions team is small, and while they had a good regional footprint, Holly needed help driving awareness outside of their region.

Solution: Holly partnered with EAB, who used a comprehensive and customized approach to optimize Holly’s marketing campaigns and expand their reach, and allowed them to be more selective with admits. EAB also used micro-surveys to uncover admitted students’ intent to enroll, allowing Holly’s small team to put resources toward the students most likely to attend.

Impact: In just two years of partnership with EAB, Holly Law increased application volume by 78% and enrollment by 42%. They also increased the median LSAT score for their incoming class by 3 points.



growth in enrollment.

About: Sycamore University is a public university located in the Mid-Atlantic, with a total enrollment of approximately 40,000 students.

Challenge: Sycamore sought to grow enrollment in their newly created Master of Law program, but the small team supporting this program was stretched thin. Resource constraints further limited the Sycamore team’s ability to focus on marketing, resulting in a decentralized and noncomprehensive approach to recruitment.

Solution: Sycamore University partnered with EAB to expand their audience of best-fit students across multiple sources. EAB also supports Sycamore in the early stages of launch by implementing an intent-based marketing campaign and equipping Sycamore’s team with marketing best-practices.

Impact: In one year of partnership, EAB helped Sycamore increase enrollment in their Master of Law program by 62%, leading to a $435K increase in net tuition revenue. EAB also helped Sycamore expand funnel activity among key cohorts, including out-of-state students.


growth in enrollments

About: Maple University is a private university located near a large city in the northeast, with a law school enrollment of about 800 students.

Challenge: Due to intensifying competition in the region, Maple’s law school experienced multiple years of enrollment declines and struggled to maintain its standing in national rankings.

Solution: Maple partnered with EAB to grow law school enrollment and raise the academic profile of their incoming class. EAB helped Maple better engage prospects and increase application volume by launching strategic, multichannel campaigns that implemented intent marketing and other proven best practices in recruitment marketing.

Impact: Over four years of partnership, Maple’s application volume increased by 41% and median LSAT score improved by four points.


total increase in entering class enrollment

About: Cottonwood University is a private university with a law school enrollment of about 450 students.

Challenge: Cottonwood sought to raise the academic profile of their entering class and increase selectivity while maintaining current class size.

Solution: After assessing Cottonwood’s current recruitment practices, EAB recommended strategic changes to find and attract more top applicants. Key changes included a data-driven expansion of targeting, strategic deadline marketing, and personalized, multichannel campaigns that incorporated proven marketing techniques.

New Strategies Implemented:

  • Optimized test-taker targeting

  • Strategic deadline marketing

  • Personalized, multichannel messaging

Impact: EAB helped Cottonwood grow application volume by 13% overall, with a 33% increase in applicants with LSAT scores of 160 or above. These changes in application volume and quality ultimately enabled an 18% decrease in admit rate and a one-point increase in median LSAT score among depositing students.

About: Magnolia University is a public university with a law school enrollment of about 500 students.

Challenge: Magnolia’s School of Law aimed to grow application volume and enrollment among highly qualified students while increasing student diversity. Magnolia’s recruitment strategy historically relied on personal outreach and recruitment fairs; however, to reach their class-shaping goals, Magnolia’s enrollment leaders realized they needed a more strategic, multichannel approach to marketing.

Solution: EAB helped Magnolia optimize their targeting strategy and expand their best-fit prospect audience. EAB then launched segmented, multichannel campaigns to attract Magnolia’s most sought-after students and deployed admit surveys to help Magnolia prioritize outreach.

Impact: EAB’s campaigns helped Magnolia increase average applicant LSAT score and GPA, in addition to increasing the number of minority applicants.


increase in minority applicants


applications influenced on average, per law school


average increase in enrollments in first-year partners

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About: Teak University is a large public law school in the West.

Challenge: Teak University aimed to increase the academic profile and diversity of their entering class but did not have sufficient resources or a strategic marketing plan in place. Teak partnered with EAB to amplify their reach and attract top applicants.

Solution: EAB helped Teak University expand their pool of best-fit prospects, increase campaign channels and cadence of messaging, and identify benefits to attract high-priority candidates.

Impact: EAB helped Teak increase diversity in their applicant pool 6%, average applicant GPA by 0.31 points, and average LSAT score by 2.5 points. Overall, they saw an 11% increase in enrollment.


Increase in enrollment


Increase in deposits from LSAT top quartile candidates

About: Basswood University is a medium-sized, private institution in the Northeast, with a law school enrollment of about 2,000 students.

Challenge: Basswood sought to increase enrollment from underrepresented groups, expand geographic diversity, and maintain their median LSAT score. They also wanted to enhance and customize prospects’ enrollment experience.

Solution: EAB helped Basswood University expand the diversity of their prospect pool, increase campaign channels and frequency of marketing, and implement a deadline strategy to meet their class shaping goals. EAB also held several communications and yield workshops and provided real-time consultative services to improve the prospect experience.

Impact: In their first year of partnership, EAB helped Basswood increase enrollment from underrepresented groups by 6.5%, grow out-of-region enrollment by 43%, and maintain their median LSAT score of 154.


increase in enrollment from students outside the NE

Adult degree completion programs

About: Bamboo University is a private, religiously affiliated institution in the West with a total enrollment of about 7,000 students.

Challenge: Bamboo aimed to grow enrollment in their adult degree completer program. However, they struggled to consistently reach and recruit students due to issues with email deliverability, leading to a lack in engagement.

Solution: EAB helped Bamboo increase application volume, enrollment, and yield by launching strategic, multichannel campaigns that implemented intent marketing at scale. EAB’s experts ensured that outreach was consistent and timely, while providing access to years of best practice and custom market research and hosting workshops focused on communication strategy, website optimization, program design, and more.

Impact: Bamboo’s adult degree completer enrollment increased by 26% from 2020 to 2021.


Estimated tuition revenue gain in FY 2021

About: Birch University is a private university in a large city in the Northeast.

Challenge: Faced with increased local and national competition, Birch’s adult degree completer program struggled to maintain enrollment volume for several years due to insufficient awareness and engagement among key prospect audiences.

Solution: Birch partnered with EAB to identify audiences who would be most likely to enroll, and to raise awareness among these populations as a part of overall marketing and recruitment strategy. EAB used consumer data to create detailed personas of Birch’s target students and generate high-affinity prospects to target. EAB then launched multichannel campaigns to engage candidates and encourage applications.

Impact: EAB’s digital ad campaigns generated awareness by reaching over 65,000 unique prospects within Birch’s target audience. Down-funnel, multi-channel campaigns spurred substantial engagement and application activity, influencing 22 enrollments for Birch’s adult degree completer program.

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enrollments influenced by EAB marketing

About: Tamarack State is a large, public university in the South.

Challenge: Tamarack State has a mission to expand their reach to the adult leaner market. As such, they sought to grow their adult degree completer program but lacked resources, expertise, and a consistent strategy to reach prospects. Coupled with a contracting market, this made growing degree completer enrollment difficult.

Solution: EAB helped Tamarack State expand their audience and improve engagement rates through consistent, custom, and responsive marketing campaigns. EAB also hosted workshops to help Tamarack State’s team design programs for adult learners and better understand their goals and academic areas of interest.

Impact: In their first year of partnership with EAB, Tamarack State saw an additional 138 adult leaner enrollments. Their adult degree completer enrollment increased by 36% at a time when adult degree completer enrollment declined over 3%2 nationwide, and their traditional undergraduate programs saw 84 new adult enrollments. These increases led to a 6:1 ROI, as well as new insights about what programs their adult market is interested in, allowing Tamarack State to make informed programmatic decisions.


Increase in adult learner enrollment influenced by EAB


average ROI for adult degree completion programs


in net tuition revenue influenced by EAB

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