Growth advice from an institutional leader

Today, online programs make sense, but given growing competition, few institutions have the resources to launch or scale them alone. Take Duquesne University, for example.

When Dr. Mary Ellen Glasgow arrived as dean of Duquesne University’s School of Nursing, its online programs were already delivering world-class instruction — however, online enrollments had leveled off.

This is where Duquesne saw opportunity.

“We’d been really good at running a solid small-to-moderate-sized online program,” Glasgow said. “But today, success is about more than just a good program: institutions have to sell it, market it, and provide strong student support. Trying to do all that on their own can distract them from educating students. We needed an infusion of fiscal and human capital to attract candidates throughout the US.”

As part of its due diligence, the university’s leadership found that institutions that work with Online Program Management (OPM) partners average better performance than those that keep programs in-house, and in 2016, we formed a partnership.

“Pearson helps us launch new online programs faster than we could on our own,” said Glasgow. “They have analytics expertise and data to help us determine which programs are most needed, and who our competition will be, so we can set realistic targets and execute an intentional growth plan.”

If your institution is considering a deeper online commitment, Glasgow has some practical advice:

  • Clearly explain a potential partnership to stakeholders. Share what it will mean, what will not change, and how you’ll safeguard academic quality.
  • Prepare carefully. Help students and faculty prepare, and make sure students understand the workload upfront.
  • Identify potential “cracks” in your system. Look for places where small communication issues can become big problems as you scale.
  • Focus on quality improvement. Optimize assignments, improve consistency between courses, and ensure that student support is always available.

The problems are solvable and the rewards are high.

“We all know it’s a challenging time in higher education. So, being at a school that’s growing, where people are being offered good jobs and finding new opportunities, is most gratifying,” said Glasgow.

Learn more about Duquesne and our partnership.


Let us help your institution launch or expand online degree programs to help you stay competitive. Learn more about Online Program Management from Pearson Online Learning Services.

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