Spelman College’s recently launched eSpelman program has experienced substantial growth since its inception in fall 2022.
The program initially covered three certificate programs, serving 49 learners as an experiment in online education.
However, high demand led to rapid expansion, with 410 students enrolled in the current term across seven certificates, and two more in development. eSpelman has also generated nearly $4 million in revenue, exceeding expectations.
The success of eSpelman was not an overnight achievement. Discussions about entering the online education space began around 2010.
Spelman initially launched an online summer program to retain undergraduate students, which demonstrated the potential for expansion. In 2019, the college began exploring online options, ultimately leading to the launch of eSpelman in 2021.
Instead of outsourcing technology, Spelman used its existing infrastructure, investing approximately $755,000 to cover expenses such as hiring new staff, course design, market research, and consulting efforts.
The program’s gross revenue exceeded $4 million, with expected net revenue of $1.5 million to $2 million after expenses.
eSpelman offers credit-bearing certificate programs priced at $3,600 each, and they can be used as general electives for students pursuing full degrees at Spelman.
Guild education sponsors eSpelman certificates for learners
Guild Education, a company that manages education assistance benefits for various workplaces, covers the complete certificates for many learners, including those from Fortune 1000 companies like Walmart, Target, and Hilton. Guild also provides one-on-one coaching and additional educational resources.
Spelman’s goal for eSpelman is to become self-sustaining by its third year, around 2024. Once achieved, the college aims to use the program’s success to fund scholarships for undergraduate students and expand the eSpelman program further.
Working adults seeking new skills and educational opportunities are a growing demographic, and partnerships with companies like Guild Education offer higher education institutions opportunities to provide valuable solutions to this audience.
Adelle LeCroy, a technical support specialist at St. Petersburg College, discovered eSpelman through her former job at Walmart and completed two certificates through the program.
The college’s reputation as a historically Black women’s college was a significant factor in her decision to enroll, as it allowed her to connect with her culture.
Spelman College’s eSpelman program serves as a successful example of how institutions can adapt and thrive in the online education landscape while providing valuable learning opportunities for working adults.