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Top Growing College Programs: Q1 to Q2 of 2014

November 12, 2014 Digital Media Solutions

Last month, USA Today published a list of the top 10 “most popular” college majors, as shown below.

  1. Business administration & management

  2. General psychology

  3. Nursing

  4. General biology

  5. Teacher education and professional development, specific levels and methods

  6. Criminal justice and corrections

  7. Accounting

  8. Liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities

  9. English language and literature

  10. History

Out of curiosity, we decided to put the Sparkroom performance marketing technology database to use to learn more about college program trends. Sparkroom is the most commonly utilized performance marketing software within higher education. An average of one million higher education inquiries are processed through it each month. We looked at data from the first half of 2014 – so approximately 6 million inquiries.

Although volume is declining at a rate higher than past years, we’re seeing a positive change in the conversion rate in comparison to years prior.

Using classifications of instructional programs (CIPs), which essentially groups college majors or degree programs into buckets defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), we have identified the top six CIPs in terms of growth.

The Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities category saw the largest volume increase from Q1 to Q2 of 2014, though individual program performance varied significantly as the chart below shows. The majority of both volume (97 percent) and conversions (95 percent) for this category was for campus-based programs.

Additional categories with high growth rates include Public Administration and Social Service Professions, Architecture and Related Services, Precision Production, Communications Technologies/Technicians and Support Services, and Leisure and Recreational Activities. The charts below detail the growth for these categories along with noteworthy program changes within each category.

The individual programs with the most growth from Q1 to Q2 of 2014 are listed below.

HVAC, listed above as the tenth fastest growing program is also one of the top 20 largest programs based on overall volume. Only three programs within the top 20 largest list saw growth from Q1 to Q2 of 2014. The other two programs were RN and Dental Assisting, each of which experienced growth of approximately 1 percent. The largest volume programs, such as Business Administration, Medical Assisting and Criminal Justice all fell in volume from Q1 to Q2.

The higher education industry continues to be very competitive, but our analytics team is staying on top of the trends.

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About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Digital Media Solutions, LLC (DMS) is the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand direct and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers. DMS deploys a robust database of consumer intelligence and leverages massive proprietary media distribution to provide customer acquisition campaigns that grow businesses. Continuing to experience explosive year-over-year growth, DMS has been continuously recognized on the Inc. 5000 list, securing its sixth consecutive ranking in 2019, and the Entrepreneur magazine 360 list. Earlier this year, DMS announced it is anticipating becoming a public company under a reverse merger deal with Leo Holdings Corp. Named one of America’s “Best Places to Work” by Inc. magazine and awarded the Excellence in Lead Generation Award by the LeadsCouncil, DMS brings together some of the industry’s most knowledgeable people, efficient processes and sophisticated technology across the digital marketing spectrum. For more information about DMS, visit Keep up with DMS news at and connect with us on LinkedIn at

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