DMS Uncovers the Dramatic Effects of COVID-19 on the Higher Education Industry

New Report Unveils Top Trends That May Shape The Future Of Higher Education Marketing

CLEARWATER, Fla.--()--2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges. Within just a few short weeks, colleges and universities across the U.S. went from “education as usual” to a complete shift to distance learning, altering nearly every aspect of the higher education industry. According to The Impact Of COVID-19 On Higher Education Demand” report by Digital Media Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: DMS), trends such as the surging interest in advanced higher education degrees and the rising popularity of psychology programs amidst widespread distress may be direct results of the dramatic effects of COVID-19.

Data from theThe Impact Of COVID-19 On Higher Education Demandreport indicates that COVID-19-related effects, including uncertainty around the return to campuses, financial instability and sweeping distress have resulted in extensive changes surrounding prospective student interest in higher education. Substantial increases, during the period of January-June 2020, in student interest in online education, advanced degrees and higher education programs in psychology and education are among the top trends uncovered by DMS. Higher education marketing experts at DMS note that these trends will likely impact the future of higher education for enrollment professionals and digital marketers.

“COVID-19 has had dramatic impacts across numerous industries, including higher education,” said Cliff Libby, Executive Vice President & General Manager of Education for DMS. “Colleges and universities reacted to the pandemic, but their changes did not always align with the needs of prospective students. Coronavirus will create long-lasting changes for higher education, and institutions that thrive will be the ones that match their offerings with what prospective students want.”

According to The Impact Of COVID-19 On Higher Education Demand,” throughout the spring, the possibility of returning to campuses remained a source of debate and concern. This uncertainty led to interest for online higher education programs growing by 10.5% year over year (YOY).

As many Americans feared unemployment and the graduating class of 2020 faced unprecedented challenges in securing jobs, many prospective students sought out advanced degrees. Doctorate degree interest climbed 10.3% YOY, while master’s degree interest rose 7.1%.

Americans also endured emotional challenges and increased rates of anxiety and depression during the first half of 2020, leading to a 24.2% spike in higher education psychology program interest YOY. In a similar vein, higher education programs for education experienced the second-highest jump in interest, rising 13.8% YOY.

As a trusted thought leader in the higher education industry, DMS Education consistently and accurately identifies trends and insightful data within the higher education sector, allowing DMS to produce predictable, reliable education marketing that connects high-intent students with schools at scale. Supporting traditional and for-profit colleges, trade schools, community colleges, boot camps, continuing education providers, OPMs and agencies, DMS Education has a long history and data-driven approach to education marketing that provides unique and highly sought after industry insights and reports about the global and granular trends of student recruitment.

“Through the use of our proprietary marketing technologies, DMS Education has access to vast consumer data, placing our team in a unique position to accurately identify and understand industry trends,” said Libby. “During a time when nearly every aspect of the higher education industry is experiencing changes, our ability to consistently uncover in-depth data surrounding the higher education space allows us to provide valuable insight and help the education industry scale customer acquisition efforts.”

The data used for this report is derived from aggregated higher education industry inquiries processed through and stored within Sparkroom® performance marketing technology. Sparkroom is owned by Digital Media Solutions and is used by the DMS Managed Services team and licensed by a long list of higher education marketers to centralize marketing and lead data.

The full report and additional insights can be downloaded here.

About Digital Media Solutions®

Digital Media Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: DMS) is a leading provider of technology and digital performance marketing solutions leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand direct and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers. DMS proprietary technology solutions, significant proprietary media distribution and data-driven processes help large brands steadily acquire more customers. For more information visit

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Melissa Ledesma
(201) 290-2696

Release Summary

The latest report from DMS notes significant increases surrounding student interest in online programs, advanced degrees and higher education programs


Melissa Ledesma
(201) 290-2696