Higher Education in America: A 4-Day Foundational Course

Higher Education in America

A 4-Day Foundational Course

Join our program to receive bite-sized lessons on higher education basics daily for 4 business days. Complete the program to get a certificate!

The next cohort starts on Monday.

American higher education includes over 4000 institutions of varying size, structure, and focus, with each serving an increasingly diverse and dwindling number of traditionally college-aged students. But there are still some commonalities in how institutions are governed, financed, organized, and assessed—not to mention the fact that institutions face similar enrollment and retention challenges across the board.

This course is designed to give you a broad overview of the American higher education landscape. Our expert instructor, Dr. Kelly Wesener Michael, will walk you through the different types of institutions that exist, how these institutions are typically funded, who is involved in governing both public and private universities, and how institutions set and assess the effectiveness of their mission and goals. Accompanying the course is a workbook designed to help you gain familiarity with the processes and mission of your own institution—how governance works for you, what the demographics of your student body are, where your funding comes from, and how your institution does strategic planning.


Who Will Benefit

This course will be highly beneficial to anyone who is new to higher education, either in a first professional role or who is transitioning to higher education from another industry. Additionally, faculty or staff whose experience in higher ed has been narrowly focused will gain knowledge of the overall landscape of American higher ed and how their institution fits into that.


How It Works

For 4 days, you will get daily emails with bite-sized videos that you can complete in 30 minutes or less each day. The emails come with optional activities to learn more about your own institution, if you choose. If you complete all modules within one week, you will have the chance to request a certificate. New cohorts start every Monday.

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the structure and landscape of American higher education.

MEMBERS - Sign up and get a certificate!

Submit your information to enroll into our 4-day foundational Higher Education in America program. You will get daily emails Monday through Friday with bite-sized videos that you can complete in 30 minutes or less each day. If you finish the curriculum within 5 days, you will have the chance to request a certificate of completion.

Before You Start


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Start the 4-Day Foundational Course on this webpage or from one of your daily emails

Week 1

Day 1

17 minutes

Introduction and Overview, and the Higher Education Landscape

Introduction and Overview

Types of Institutions

Carnegie Classifications

Demographic Shifts


Optional Activities in the Workbook:

Activity 1: Types of Institutions

Activity 2: Carnegie Classifications

Activity 3: Demographic Shifts

Day 2

12 minutes

Financing Higher Education

Federal and State Funding

Tuition and Fees

Additional Funding Sources


Optional Activities in the Workbook:

Activity 4: Federal and State Funding

Activity 5: Tuition and Fees

Activity 6: Additional Funding Sources

Day 3

17 minutes

Organization, Structure, and Governance of Institutions

Organization and Structure


Governing Boards

State Systems


Optional Activities in the Workbook:

Activity 7: Organization and Structure

Activity 8: Governance

Activity 9: Governing Boards

Activity 10: State Systems

Day 4

12 minutes

Institutional Effectiveness, Accountability, Accreditation, and Strategic Planning

Institutional Effectiveness and Data

Accountability and Accreditation

Strategic Planning


Optional Activities in the Workbook:

Activity 11: Institutional Effectiveness and Data

Activity 12: Accountability and Accreditation

Activity 13: Strategic Planning

Action Planning Exercise

Completed our Higher Education in America foundational program?

Please fill out this form to request a certificate.

Continue Learning

Interested in diving deeper into one or more of the topics discussed in this course? We recommend that you check out the following resources on financing higher education:   

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Live Q&A Session: Enrollment 101 for Academic Leaders

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Get in Touch With Us

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Ryan Coleman

Account Manager

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Terry Coleman

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Yianna Kappas

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Breanne Holloway

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Roshaon Tytar

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