A new report released by the Chronicle of Higher Education this week names American International College as one of the fastest growing colleges in the U.S. The report, contained in the Chronicle's Almanac of Higher Education 2012, ranks AIC as the 12th fastest growing campus among private colleges offering master's degree programs.
AIC was the only Western Massachusetts college to make the Chronicle's top 20 list of fastest growing nonprofit master's institutions.
From 2000 - 2010, enrollment at AIC grew more than 126 percent, from 1,548 to 3,509 students, based on part time and full time, undergraduate and graduate students.
AIC president Vince M. Maniaci said a major contributing factor to the increased enrollment is the growth in the college's graduate education programs. “Our M.Ed. and Ed.D programs have had a tremendously positive impact over the last six years in educating the educators in our school systems," he said.
AIC's cohort-based programs were designed to provide an opportunity for working professionals to obtain a master's degree or CAGS with initial or professional licensure. The Doctor of Education program at AIC is an innovative, non-traditional doctoral program for mid-career practitioners in the fields of education, counseling, psychology, as well as higher education leadership, who already hold an accredited master's degree in these, or a closely aligned field.
Maniaci said there has been tremendous growth in the undergraduate population, as well. "While our grad numbers have increased, what is truly noteworthy is the growth we have had in traditional undergraduate students," he said.
Maniaci said the growth in undergraduate students is what sets AIC apart from other schools on the list. "This is total enrollment. It is remarkable that we have achieved this kind of growth without relying on online programming. Although we do offer online programs and courses, the growth has come from more traditional programming," he said.
Since 2001, not only has undergraduate enrollment increased significantly, but under Maniaci, the graduate enrollment figures have increased from less than 400 students to more than 2,000.
"In what is arguably one of the most difficult economic climates in recent history, combined with some of the toughest competition we've seen in years, from both the nonprofit and for profit education sectors, AIC has experienced a continued and sustained increase in enrollment, whereas many other institutions have seen stabilization or decreases," he said.
Maniaci said while the enrollment numbers show positive growth for AIC, there are other factors to consider. "What's equally impressive, is the increase in our retention rate and selectivity, as well as our graduation rate," Maniaci said.
Michael Frantz, senior consultant with Noel-Levitz, a national higher education consulting organization, agreed that the growth is very impressive. "AIC exists in a region that is among the most competitive in the country, if not the globe, where demographics are on the decline or stable at best. To be the only college in the region to show this kind of growth is truly remarkable," he said.
Frantz said, AIC has embraced a data-driven, market-centered, relationship-building approach to recruitment. "This approach has enabled the college to attract students with a high propensity for satisfaction, leading to graduation," he said.