Trends in Higher Education Expected in 2017

Trends in Higher Education, 2017

In an ever-changing environment, education, like all professions, must adapt to maintain its relevancy and accessibility. Advances in technology, along with a new political administration, can have impacts on higher education as well as K-12 schools.  

Trends in Higher Education We Can Expect in 2017

“It’s actually difficult to predict the future right now,” says Dr. Melanie Shaw, Assistant Dean of Northcentral University’s School of Education. “There is a lot not yet known in terms of the new administration’s direction on education.”

That aside, Shaw believes it’s a “great time” to become an educator.

This year, we could see continuing growth trends in early childhood education. According to Shaw,  “There are high expectations for children to begin learning prior to kindergarten now.” Early childhood learning has also been tied to parents’ levels of education. A 2016 report, titled The 2016 Condition of Education, from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) cited that in 2014, the overall percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in preschool programs was higher for children whose parents had a graduate or professional degree (49 percent), as compared to those whose parents had a bachelor’s degree (43 percent), an associate’s degree (38 percent), some college (35 percent), a high school credential (32 percent), and less than a high school credential (28 percent).

Technology Trends in Education

As technology in education continue to evolve, their impact on education will also continue. Shaw expects that we might see more growth in online educational opportunities in 2017. “We could see higher education, traditional, and charter schools continue their diversification online.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students taking at least one distance based/online course doubled from 15.6% in 2003/2004 to 32% in 2011/2012. Resources such as high-speed internet, video conferencing and other “live-engagement” tools enable new learning-style platforms.

Access to these distance based education platforms has also increased the opportunities for educators to employ learning analytics in their education methods. Most online platforms collect data that will allow educators to be more evidence-based in how they support their students. Data collected by digital education delivery methods can be used to identify barriers, and create personalized and engaging learning experiences based on identified trends. The use of learning analytics has become more prevalent as online and application based delivery methods continue to grow in popularity. Expect the use of analytics in education to become more common at all educational levels in the near future.

Educator Trends

Shaw expects to see increased interest in applied doctorate degrees. Professionals who seek to contribute new knowledge and theory to a body of knowledge in their field pursue a PhD. In an applied doctorate program, students focus their research on the practical application of knowledge and theory that already exists. Universities, including NCU, offer both applied and PhD doctoral programs.

Educators will continue to identify and develop degree programs that meet market needs. For example, according to a report issued by the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, the shortage of nurse faculty to educate those who desire to enter the nursing profession is a critical factor that limits the nation’s ability to produce more nurses. The nursing faculty shortage may increase further as it is projected the demand for nurses will continue to grow at a rate of about 16% through 2024 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “NCU’s nursing education specialization was designed to meet this industry void,” said Shaw.

Learn more about Northcentral University's education programs and find out how NCU's flexible programs can have you beginning the pursuit of your degree in education as soon as next Monday.

For more information about our graduation rates, the media debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit