Nationally, student demand for Mental Health Programs is rising. Last year, inquiries and Google searches for the program both rose over 12%, while program completions rose 10%. Competition remains manageable in this field, with only 210 schools offering the program in the U.S. Among the competitors, distance education providers appear to be taking share; only 8% of schools offering this program are online, but they produce 25% of the graduates. On the employment front, there were over 16,000 related job postings last year and 9% average annual growth in employment. Unfortunately, earnings are low; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 10th percentile wage is just $30,000 for a field in which over 45% of employees have a graduate degree.
Google searches fell over 10% for two education degrees and two science programs. Other fields where student demand fell in December included higher education programs in Advertising, Fashion-Merchandising, and Commercial Art. We were surprised to see a drop in searches for Computer Programming degrees, which fell 21%. This is the only sign we have seen of falling interest in software programming education.
2018 got off to a slow start for Google searches for higher education programs. Search volume dropped from January through June, before a second-half turnaround. Starting in July, Google searches for higher education programs rose every month, finishing strong with 8% growth in December.
Health Services and Mental Health Counseling programs both had a surge in December inquiries from prospective students, which rose 100% or more. These two programs had the highest inquiry growth of any of the 75 largest programs that Gray tracks.
December Inquiry Volume Rose 9% Year-Over-Year; 1.8% Higher for All of 2018
In December 2018, student demand for higher education programs rose sharply, according to Gray Associates, a higher education strategy consulting firm. The firm reported inquiry volume rose nine percent from December 2017 while Google searches for specific programs increased eight percent. Growth was particularly strong for online programs. Gray is optimistic that rising interest will lead to enrollment growth in 2019.