Google Searches for Higher Education Programs Continue to Decline

August 21, 2018

Google searches for higher education programs and institutional brands continue to fall, reports Gray Associates, a higher education consulting firm.

Searches for programs were off four percent, year-over-year, for the first six months of 2018.  In June, the most recent month for which complete data is available, searches were three percent lower.

Searches are a predictor of future enrollment levels.  Search volume is one of more than 40 critical program data elements that are incorporated into Gray’s Program Evaluation System (PES), used by colleges and universities to make decisions on which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain, or Grow.

Gray tracks Google searches for the 200 largest higher education programs in the IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) database and uses 25 keywords for each program.  These 200 programs combined account for 67 percent of program completions.

Google Searches - 200 Largest Academic Programs

Tracking Your Brand with Google

Google searches for brands in higher education were down five percent, year-over-year, for the first six months of 2018, and down five percent for June for Gray’s initial sample of 75 brands.  Gray now tracks searches for over 350 brands.

The programs with the largest growth rates for searches in June were Aesthetician/Esthetician and Skin Care Specialist and Nail Technician/Specialist and Manicurist, up 36 percent and 28 percent, respectively.  The biggest declines in search rates were for Hotel/Motel Management/Administration, down 68 percent, and Education, General, 46 percent lower.

The brands with the biggest increases in search volume for June were Universal Technical Institute, 20 percent higher, West Coast University and Western Governors University, both up 16 percent, and Florida Career College, 13 percent higher.

The most recent student and employer demand trends are available 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, Google searches, 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,

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.

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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.

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