Feasibility Checklist: The Science of Bringing New Academic Programs to Life

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The best ideas in the world can easily fall off the radar unless you have a process in place for evaluating, vetting and bringing them to life.

Also in this series:
Is it Time to Launch that New Academic Program? The Art and Science of Answering that Question
Financial Modeling for New Academic Programs

by Melissa Morriss-Olson, Bay Path University

Once you have generated an idea for a new academic program, how do you sustain and implement that idea?

As Jim Collins suggests in Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All, organizational ‘luck’ and success can be leveraged by cultivating a discipline around process and metrics.  Indeed, he suggests that this discipline is key for maximizing whatever ‘luck’ might naturally come one’s way.

This has certainly been the case at Bay Path University, where we have developed a rigorous process and template for evaluating the feasibility of new program ideas that we use across all divisions of the University. This process has enabled us to remove some of the subjectivity that accompanies new academic program decision making, relying instead on a set of objective key elements and metrics that are applied equally to all new program possibilities.

When a new program is recommended, the sponsoring school or department is required to conduct a feasibility study that addresses the following checklist:

  1. Relationship to institutional mission
  2. Rationale and market niche
  3. Student and occupational demand
  4. Program description and structure
  5. Resource requirements
  6. Revenue potential and projection

Here is an in-depth breakdown of that checklist, for you to review and discuss with colleagues at your own institution.

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