Employers want to partner with external providers to upskill and reskill their employees — presenting an opportunity for higher ed institutions to grow revenue by creating programs for employers. Our recent research with UPCEA found that from 2022 to 2023, companies partnering with external organizations to provide employee training/professional development increased 26%.

Challenges for higher education institutions

Higher ed is quickly losing these opportunities to private providers like Coursera and LinkedIn Learning. While partnerships with professional organizations and private providers rose year over year, partnerships with higher ed institutions fell. Schools need to aggressively align programs and processes with market demand and employer partnerships, or the market will go elsewhere.

The best way to take advantage of these opportunities is to play to your school’s strengths, prioritize program growth, and avoid overextending your resources. Consider using existing courses in high-demand areas to create online certificates and pathways to stack certificates into degree programs.

Top graduate certificate programs for 2024

Here’s a list of graduate certificate programs with the best growth potential (according to national conferral volume and growth). Are there any programs your school could develop to take advantage of this growing need?


  • Business Administration and Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Entrepreneurship


  • Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods, Other
  • Special Education and Teaching, General
  • Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor


  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse
  • Family Practice Nurse
  • Registered Nursing


  • Sustainability Studies
  • Data Analytics, General
  • Business Analytics


  • Epidemiology
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology/Biological Sciences, General

Social and Psychological Sciences

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Geographic Information Science and Cartography
  • Criminal Justice/Safety Studies


  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
  • Computer Programming/Programmer, General
  • Computer and Information Sciences, General

Partnering with employers for program growth

After determining the most in-demand certificates for your school, partnering with employers to design the curriculum and develop enrollment pathways can help scale enrollments. Collegis can help you analyze your regional competition and the skills demanded most by local employers to develop the right programs for your market, support employer partnerships, and develop custom strategies for growth and differentiation.

Understanding Employer Perceptions: The Collegis-UPCEA 2024 report

UPCEA 2024 Report

Our new report “Unveiling the Employer’s View: An Employer-Centric Approach to Higher Education Partnerships” reveals what employers want and how to approach them. We’ll be here to help you get started.

Author: Amber Arnseth

Arnseth oversees program and market research as a skilled problem-solver with an ability to integrate and contextualize data for partners into actionable recommendations. The research she and her team conduct help inform and strengthen our partners' strategic portfolio and program decisions.