Top 5 Bachelor’s Programs: Student Recruitment and Employment Trends

November 20, 2018 Jeff Meola

Bachelor’s degrees had the highest share of voice (SOV) of all degree levels in Q3 2018. With a SOV of 37.3%, the bachelor’s programs saw inquiry volume rise 16.2% from the prior quarter and 5.4% from the prior year, according to the Q3 2018 Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review published by Digital Media Solutions (DMS).

Q3 2018 SOV degree level digital media solutions chart Education

In this article, we dive into the top five highest volume bachelor’s programs in Q3 2018 and examine conversion data plus employment trends, as labor market shifts can heavily impact student recruitment.

#1 Bachelor’s Program in Q3 2018: Nursing/Registered Nurse (RN, ASN, BSN, MSN)

Nursing/registered nurse (RN, ASN, BSN, MSN) had the highest SOV of all bachelor’s programs in Q3 2018 (17.3%). Inquiry volume for this program was up 7.4% from the prior quarter and up 0.3% from the prior year. The conversion rate for the bachelor’s nursing program decreased from 4.1% in Q1 2018 to 2.0% in Q2 2018. The BLS projects employment of registered nurses to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017, significantly higher than the median for all occupations of $37,690. Based on these employment projections, we anticipate Nursing/Registered Nurse will hold its top spot for bachelor’s programs for many quarters to come.

#2 Bachelor’s Program in Q3 2018: Business Administration and Management, General

At 9.0%, business administration and management, general had the second-highest SOV for bachelor’s programs in Q3 2018 with a 9.0% SOV. Inquiry volume for this program was up 23.8% from the prior quarter and up 20.8% from the prior year. The conversion rate for the business administration bachelor’s program stayed relatively flat, going from 22.5% in Q1 2018 to 22.8% in Q2 2018. The BLS projects employment of management occupations to grow 8% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for management occupations was $102,590 in May 2017. Though the growth rate is run-of-the-mill, the significantly above average salaries for business administration graduates keep this program a popular choice for prospective college students.

#3 Bachelor’s Program in Q3 2018: Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design

Web page, digital/multimedia and information resources design had the third-highest SOV for bachelor’s programs in Q3 2018 (6.7%). Inquiry volume for this program was up 7.9% from the prior quarter and up 14.1% from the prior year. The conversion rate for web design bachelor’s programs fell from 5.5% in Q1 2018 to 4.9% in Q2 2018. The BLS projects employment of web developers to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for web developers was $67,990 in May 2017. The growth in web-based media and commerce is contributing to the employment growth in this area. With 90% of the inquiry volume coming from third-party affiliate data leads, which tend to have a lower conversion rate, the web design bachelor’s programs have a conversion rate that is slightly lower than the other top five bachelor programs.

#4 Bachelor’s Program in Q3 2018: Psychology, General

Psychology, general had the fourth-highest SOV for bachelor’s programs in Q3 2018, with a 6.0% SOV. Inquiry volume for psychology bachelor’s programs spiked 40.1% from the prior quarter and was up 14.7% from the prior year. Meanwhile, the conversion rate fell from 10% in Q1 2018 to 8.7% in Q2 2018. The BLS projects employment of psychologists to grow 14% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for psychologists was $77,030 in May 2017. The falling conversion rate for psychology bachelor’s programs was likely due to the increase in inquiry volume. Often, there is an inverse relationship between higher education inquiry volume and conversion rates.

 #5 Bachelor’s Program in Q3 2018: Criminal Justice/Police Science

With a 4.0% SOV, criminal justice/police science had the fifth-highest SOV for bachelor’s programs in Q3 2018 with a 4.0% SOV. Inquiry volume for the criminal justice bachelor’s program was up 50.3% from the prior quarter and 37.3% from the prior year while the conversion rate increased from 19.0% in Q1 2018 to 22.6% in Q2 2018. The BLS projects employment of police and detectives to grow 7% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for police and detectives was $62,960 in May 2017. The spike in inquiry volume for criminal justice/police science bachelor’s programs may be related to relaxing gainful employment regulations, as efforts may no longer be focused on restricting volume or temporarily suspending these programs.

For information about other higher education recruitment trends, download the Q3 2018 Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review.

About the Author

Jeff Meola

Jeff Meola is the Consumer Insights & Marketing Analytics Director at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest growing independent agency focused on performance marketing. In this role, Jeff is responsible for managing and analyzing DMS industry data and customer trends. Since its inception, DMS has evolved into a full-service performance marketing company that services firms within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, automotive, jobs and careers. DMS has achieved incredible year-over-year growth, which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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