Cloud Computing, Big Data Used to Help Colleges Evaluate Their Portfolio of Programs.

June 21, 2017

New Gray Associates Capabilities Help Institutions Assess Program Viability

The decline in demand for higher education continued in April, with overall student inquiries 15 percent lower than one year ago, according to GrayReports, a monthly review of demand trends in higher education produced by strategy consulting firm Gray Associates, Inc.  However, institutional leaders should view national trends as a departure point and focus, instead, on local and regional market conditions before making strategic decisions about academic programs, according to Robert Atkins, the firm’s chief executive officer.

“National-level data paints a broad picture of student demand and employment growth trends in different fields, but conditions vary from market to market,” Mr. Atkins said.  “Further, each institution defines its market differently.  We have developed new capabilities that draw upon cloud computing and big data to analyze market conditions according to an institution’s parameters, be they by state, defined radii from campus locations, metropolitan area, zip code or DMA.”

As part of its monthly report, Gray analyzes student demand for the 75 highest-volume IPEDS CIPs fields1.  The data comes from multiple sources including providers under exclusive contract to Gray as well as Google search volumes.

To illustrate how conditions vary among markets, Gray ranked states by attractiveness for one of those programs, Computer Support Specialist, using a scoring rubric that combined student demand, employment opportunities and competitive intensity.  Pennsylvania ranked first, with a combined score of 26 (16 for student demand, 12 for employment opportunities and minus two for competitive intensity).  For the seventh consecutive month, Human Services was the fastest-growing program with inquiries jumping 356 percent year-over-year in April.

Rounding out the five fastest-growing were:  Medical Insurance Coding, up 186 percent; Counseling Psychology, up 126 percent; Medical Office Assistant, up 111 percent, and Computer Support Specialist.  An inquiry is a search for information, online or otherwise, about an academic program and/or an institution of higher learning.

The other states in the top 10 and their overall scores were:  New Jersey, 23, Virginia, 21, North Carolina, 18, Colorado, 17, Nebraska, 17, Connecticut, 16, Georgia, 16, Indiana, 16, and Massachusetts, 14.

The five programs with the greatest declines in student inquiries were:  Computer and Information Science, -78 percent; Accounting and Finance, -61 percent; Criminal Justice/Safety Studies, -52 percent; Information Systems Security/Information Assurance, -51 percent, and Marketing/Marketing Management, -49 percent.

The full report can be viewed here:

About Gray Associates

Gray Associates, Inc. is a higher education consulting firm.  We help clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies to maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.  Gray uses proprietary analytical techniques and an industry-leading database combining information on inquiry volumes, demographics, competition, and employment, to help faculty and school leadership develop institutional strategies, select programs, pick locations, and prepare curricula.

Media contact:
Ellis Simon, 516-524-6804,

Company contact:
Mark Keleher, 617-366-2831,

1 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System Classification of Instructional Programs.

Gray Associates

Gray Associates, Inc. provides the best available data, software, and facilitated processes to help higher education institutions make high-stakes decisions regarding academic programs, pricing, and locations.

Related Posts

Recharge Your Program Portfolio with This Emerging Program

Looking for an exciting and innovative field of study? Look no further than energy storage! As advances in energy technology continue to drive demand for more efficient and powerful ways to store energy, the need for skilled graduates in this field is growing rapidly. From mechanical and thermal energy storage to hydrogen fuel cells and even quantum batteries, the possibilities for innovation are endless. Discover how higher education is rising to the challenge and offering exciting new programs in this emerging field.

2023 March Madness: Who Will Be This Year’s Cinderella?

Experience the thrill of March Madness and discover how Cinderella teams can boost a school’s brand awareness. Follow the success stories of St. Peter’s University and Loyola University Chicago, two schools that leveraged their teams’ tournament appearances to increase their image and attract top students. Join the conversation with expert commentary on which underdogs might surprise us this year. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how March Madness affects higher education and the exciting possibilities it holds for lesser-known teams!

Benchmarking Hockey East Association Women’s Ice Hockey

Discover how benchmarking can help your school’s athletic department make strategic resource decisions. Learn about the importance of using both internal and external data to evaluate sports teams and conferences. Using women’s ice hockey in the Hockey East Association as an example, explore how benchmarking can be applied to assess the cost per participant, cost per sport, and more. Find out how this can help schools decide on conference changes or new sports programs and attract students who major in specific programs.

About Us
closeup photo of

Gray Associates, Inc. is a software and services firm focused on higher education. We help education clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies that maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.

Let’s Socialize

Popular Post
Subscribe to Our Blog

Don’t miss the latest research and insights from Gray Associates