Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Paula Brush


This qualitative study examined the impact of enrollment management, marketing and strategic planning practices (or lack thereof) on enrollment trends in two graduate programs across five Grand Rapids, Michigan-based institutions of higher education. Deans, department heads or program directors associated with the Master's of Business and Master's of Education degrees in each institution were interviewed, as were regional administrators and marketing personnel for a total of 15 participants. In addition, the challenges faced by these graduate programs and how such challenges impacted enrollment patterns were analyzed.

Findings indicate that to a large degree the concepts of enrollment management, marketing and strategic planning are not well understood. There also appears to be a connection between such practices and enrollment growth in that some common strategic attributes were found within the four of ten programs that had enrollment increases, while such attributes were often absent in non-growing programs. These attributes include having individuals very knowledgeable of the enrollment management concept, offering modified classes and formats, an average use of various marketing methods above those used by non-growing programs, and performing marketing research to support their planning efforts. In addition three of the four growing programs indicated the existence of an adequate marketing budget, while none of the six programs with declining or flat enrollment indicated such budget support. Key challenges included limited funding, a limited talent pool for adjunct faculty, significant competition among institutions, and regional unemployment.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access