5 Key Data Points for Analyzing Programs and Determining the Need for New Ones

Published on Sep 10, 2019

Updated on Feb 29, 2024

Written by Alex Doyle

As new technologies and increasingly sophisticated, high-skill jobs continue to emerge, pressure is increasing for higher education institutions to deliver workers prepared to thrive in this dynamic market.

In this environment, staying relevant and proving value means keeping programs up-to-date and aligned with market demand through frequent program review and development. But these are complex, multi-step processes, requiring intensive collaboration between multiple teams and departments on campus. From initial research to program launch, they involve market analysis, course planning, assembling appropriate team members, plotting the program timeline, developing a marketing strategy, and much, much more. To ensure that you don’t waste time planning a program with no market or that won’t be relevant in three years, it’s important to be precise as you analyze program demand and relevancy.

Having labor market data on the front end can provide key metrics to smooth out the initial steps of determining program alignment and identifying new opportunities. But, while most colleges and universities understand the importance of this data for informing program planning, it can be hard to know where to start.

The Program Overview Report

When you begin program planning or updating existing programs, understanding the program and job market landscapes gives you vital insight into the needs of both markets. These insights include answers to questions like:

  • What is the competitive landscape and market saturation? How many students graduate from other, similar programs in the region, state, or country?

  • What are related occupation projections? Will the program still be viable and relevant in 5 to 10 years?

  • Where should we market the program? What regions post lots of jobs for graduates of this type of program?

  • What skills should students gain in this program? What skills do employers look for in this program’s graduates?

  • Which degree level and program type makes the most sense for our institution?

Having answers to these questions not only lets you create relevant, in-demand programs, it also allows you to get buy-in from high-level administration and stakeholders. So where can you find this data?

The Program Overview report in Analyst is a great place to start. The report lets you see program and related occupation data as you customize the search parameters. Then, once you’ve set the parameters exactly the way you want to get the necessary data, you can export the report.


The Program Overview report includes five key data points that are particularly important to note.

  • Competing schools – Which schools have similar programs, completions by year, year-over-year (YOY) growth, and how much of the market each program occupies.

  • Regional completions by award level – How many graduates achieve each level of education.

  • Job outlook and earnings – The most popular jobs for a program’s graduates, projected occupation growth up to 10 years from the current calendar year, median hourly earnings, number of jobs, and annual openings

  • Top hard skills – The most frequently listed hard skills, such as Python or welding, in workforce profiles (the skill supply) and job postings (the skill demand).

  • Top common skills – The most frequently listed common skills, such as problem solving or management, in workforce profiles and job postings.

The report offers much more than just these five data points, but they’re an excellent place to start during program review and development.

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