Research Study by Noel-Levitz and NAGAP Reveals Leading Recruitment Practices for Graduate Students

Share Article

According to a study by the higher education consulting firm Noel-Levitz and NAGAP, the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals, campus visits, program-specific Web pages, and assistantships for admitted students are among the most effective recruitment strategies for master’s degree programs. The joint research project examined graduate student marketing and recruitment practices.

How effective is advertising vs. direct mail vs. an institution’s Web site for recruiting prospective master’s students? And how do ratings of these promotional avenues compare to such activities as awarding scholarships and to organizing events like open houses?

A new report answers these and other questions, rating 80 familiar and emerging practices for recruiting prospective master’s students, based on a national poll of graduate school officials at private and public institutions nationwide conducted in March of 2012. The report is the first comprehensive study of graduate marketing and student recruitment practices jointly undertaken by Noel-Levitz and NAGAP, the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals.

Across Carnegie institution types, the following practices were among those that were consistently rated “very effective” by poll respondents: (The poll had a four-part rating scale: “very effective,” “somewhat effective,” “minimally effective,” or “method not used.”)

  •     Hosting campus visits for admitted students;
  •     Maintaining graduate program Web pages to attract inquiries;
  •     Awarding assistantships to admitted students;
  •     Following up by e-mail with students whose applications are incomplete.

In addition, practices that were consistently rated “minimally effective” by respondents across institution types included various types of print and online advertising. For example, respondents from public and private, Carnegie-classified, doctorate-granting universities gave low marks to television and radio advertising as a way to recruit master’s students, while respondents from a combined category (public, Carnegie-classified, master’s colleges and universities, baccalaureate colleges, and special focus institutions) gave low marks to “local print advertising” and to “bus, billboard, or other outdoor advertising.”

The rates at which respondents were using or not using the effective and ineffective practices was also illuminating. In some cases, practices that were consistently rated “very effective” were not being used by a significant portion of the poll respondents, sometimes more than half. For example, the practice of asking current students or graduate assistants to place phone calls to admitted students was used by less than half of the respondents from private, master’s institutions, baccalaureate colleges, and special focus institutions but was frequently rated “very effective” by the other respondents from the same Carnegie institution types.

The study, titled 2012 Marketing and Student Recruitment Practices for Master’s-Level Graduate Programs, is the latest in a series of polls and surveys that Noel-Levitz has conducted since the late 1980s for the purpose of identifying effective recruitment practices.

Additional findings in the report included:

  •     A 75 percent median yield rate from admission to enrollment was reported by all public institution respondents (regardless of Carnegie institution type) vs. a 66 percent median yield rate reported by all private institution respondents.
  •     Approximately three-quarters of respondents across the Carnegie institution types, public and private, indicated that arranging partnership agreements with businesses or agencies to provide education to employees was “very effective” or “somewhat effective” for recruiting adult learners for master’s programs.
  •     The practice of maintaining “Web pages designed to enhance the interest of international students” was judged to be “very effective” or “somewhat effective” for recruiting internationally by the majority of respondents across institution types, though a wide variety of practice in the area of international recruiting was evident across the sectors.
  •     Compared to their public institution counterparts, private institution respondents reported purchasing the names and addresses of prospective students more frequently from outside list vendors.

For a full copy of the study, including an appendix with ratings of 80 practices, along with information regarding specific practices used to recruit master’s students to Business, Health, and Education programs, visit or

# # #

About The National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP)
The National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals is devoted exclusively to the issues of individuals working in the graduate enrollment management environment. NAGAP convenes an annual conference and development institutes, plus provides a membership directory, monthly E-News and Perspectives newsmagazine, mentor program, and chapter affiliations—all to share knowledge and help facilitate communication among members. In addition, the NAGAP Research and Global Issues Committee designs and implements research projects in a continuing effort to provide relevant comparative data on issues that affect graduate school policies and requirements.

About Noel-Levitz
Noel-Levitz is a nationally recognized higher education consulting firm that focuses on strategic planning for enrollment and student success. Each year, campus executives across the U.S. meet regularly with Noel-Levitz to accomplish their goals for student recruitment, marketing, student retention, and strategic enrollment management. Since 1973, Noel-Levitz has partnered with more than 2,700 colleges and universities throughout North America. The firm offers executive consulting, custom research and benchmark data, innovative tools and technologies, side-by-side plan development and execution, and resources for professional development.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Pam Jennings
Visit website