Expanding Online Programs at Scale: Speed to Market While Retaining Quality

Last updated on: June 15, 2023

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Challenge: Expand Student Reach

In 2010, Purdue University recognized the potential that online continuing education offered as a route to achieving the institution’s 10-year strategic goals. A provost’s task force recommended that the university identify a partner to provide services and support for online programs at a level it could not provide with its own campus resources.

As a result, the provost authorized Purdue Extended Campus to work with the University’s procurement department to conduct a selection process built around a RFP. From the nine proposals received, Purdue selected Deltak (now Wiley University Services) as its partner. “We were impressed with Deltak’s client base, its history in online education, but most of all with the people it sent to our campus—people who were experts but down-to-earth and as committed to quality online education as we were,” recalls Michael Eddy, Director of Digital Education and a member of the selection team. The contract with Wiley was signed in November 2010, and the first online program was successfully launched in Fall 2011.

The Strategy

More than two decades of experience working with a wide range of institutional partners prepared Wiley to develop a plan that would scale and reach Purdue’s goals. As with any top-tier institution of higher learning, Purdue University’s institutional goals could only be achieved through its component colleges. Some colleges recognized the opportunity in online programs, while others had to be brought along. Wiley pursued a strategy of helping online-ready colleges launch programs at scale while helping other colleges identify where their opportunities may lie.

In developing this strategy to achieve the University growth targets, Wiley conducted extensive market research to determine program viability and growth potential. Once the programs were identified in collaboration with Purdue, detailed launch plans were built and executed. These included: strategic planning, online course development, faculty support, marketing, and student recruitment and retention.

In addition, Wiley team members spent significant time on Purdue’s campus, coordinating with administrative units to ensure seamless processes to matriculate new online students. These meetings with vital campus stakeholders built solid relationships based on trust and cooperation. “Purdue and Wiley worked closely as a team towards the same goals—to attract students who are likely to succeed in our programs and to matriculate them by a transparent process into at-scale programs of uncompromised academic quality. We consider Wiley University Services to be an extension of our team,” said Eddy.

The Results

The College of Education’s MSEd in Learning Design and Technology program was the first program to launch online in 2011. Wiley’s ability to coordinate activity and partner with Purdue’s Curriculum and Instruction department throughout the implementation process allowed the program to launch on time with nearly twice the projected enrollments. With Wiley’s expansive marketing and recruiting, Education faculty and staff were pleasantly surprised by the number, quality, and diversity of the students they were able to attract.

“The College of Education at Purdue wanted to increase enrollments through the online MSEd in Learning Design and Technology program, but we were not focused only on the numbers,” said Prof. Tim Newby, the original academic director of the program. “We are known for teaching high-caliber students, and Wiley University Services targets and recruits students who can and will graduate from the program.”

Steady growth and demand for the program persists today. Prior to offering the program online, the ground-based program had fewer than 20 students. “We just had a record Fall 2017 start for this program of more than 90 students, with a total of nearly 300 enrollments in the program. Our continuing collaboration with Wiley gives us the tools to continue to grow our program,” said Newby.

Similarly, the MS in Communication program, a program that launched in 2014, now has over 400 students enrolled, with plans to expand, diversify, and enrich the program over the next few years to attempt to reach a goal of over 1,000 enrollments. The program is currently implementing Wiley’s recommendations on how to achieve that goal.

The Wiley and Purdue partnership remains grounded by flexibility and a high level of collaboration and cooperation. “We continuously evolve together to identify innovative ways to reach and serve our diverse and ever-growing student audiences,” said Eddy.

Looking Ahead

Wiley and Purdue have a time-tested partnership that is grounded by a shared sense of ownership and engagement, yielding the greatest impact and success rates. Today, Wiley supports seven programs for Purdue and over 900 students, spanning market strategy and research, marketing, recruitment, enrollment services, and academic services. This flexible partnership will continue to evolve to support the growth needs of Purdue far into the future.

“Partnering with Wiley University Services was ultimately about increasing our supportive resources to gain access to a new population of students wanting to experience Purdue’s excellent academic opportunities…we’ve succeeded in accomplishing that goal,” said Jon Harbor, Executive Director of Digital Education.

Wiley University Services Offerings

Wiley is responsible for these services in the Purdue partnership:

Market Assessment

Program Design and Development

Marketing and Brand Management


Enrollment Management

Student Retention Services

24×7 Help Desk

Institution’s Roles and Responsibilities

Purdue handles the following areas:

Curriculum and Content




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