Date of Award


Document Type



Public Policy and Management

First Advisor

Dr Josephine LaPlante


Higher Education, University of Southern Maine, Education, Muskie School of Public Service, USM Aging Initiative, Lifelong Learning


The 21st century has been, and will continue to be, a time of great change within the world of higher education. One key demographic change lies in the growing number of adult students seeking educational opportunities. Higher education institutions, such as the University of Southern Maine, have not historically been structured to serve the needs of this important and growing student population. In the coming years, significant changes in structure and organizational mission will be critical to address the needs of these students and to capitalize on the influx of revenue they could bring to a financially struggling institution. This paper will recommend that USM focus on the needs of adult learners through: improved quality of online courses and instruction, increased number of complete programs and degrees offered in an online and blended format, implementing a systematic way to ensure that students are prepared for online coursework so they successfully complete their programs, improved customer service for adult students across all formats, and finally, ensuring that online coursework is properly evaluated.



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