Does your program want to recruit the best grad school students, but lacks the financial resources to do so? Specialized graduate programs often face the challenge of limited marketing budgets, a need to recruit nationally or even worldwide, and don’t have the infrastructure in place to reach the right audience of prospective students.

MBA programs typically do an excellent job of fostering relationships with students and bringing in a wide pool of applicants. However, MBA programs often have access to funds that smaller, more niche masters programs don’t have available.

How can resource-strapped masters programs recruit the best grad school students on a budget?

Focus on Precision, Not Scale

Many graduate programs seek to bring in hundreds of applicants, despite a small number of actual spots available. By attracting a large number of applicants and only selecting a handful, the program appears to be more selective, and therefore more appealing to students looking for a top program.

While scale hypothetically allows programs to choose from the best and brightest, focusing on scale is not the most cost-effective way to recruit the best students.

Programs with big budgets spend significant time and money on tools like Google AdWords to cast a wide net and bring awareness to as many students as possible. This practice is costly, and doesn’t necessarily yield the most qualified, interested applicants.

By honing focus on the right students, programs will spend less time and resources sifting through hundreds of applicants, and will have a smaller, more targeted pool of pre-qualified candidates from which to choose.

Boost Alumni Involvement

Alumni are not only a great source from which to gain donations, but they’re an excellent resource to assist in your program’s recruiting efforts, in which success is relationship driven. Use your program alumni to your advantage; have your alumni use their personal and professional networks to recruit on your program’s behalf.

Seek donations from program alumni specifically for recruiting and scholarships to help welcome the next generations of students to their alma mater. It’s proven that satisfied former students give back to their universities and programs; Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business received donations from an impressive 67% of their MBA alumni in 2010, showing an extremely high level of alumni participation and engagement.

Not just business schools receive a large volume of alumni donations; of U.S News’ 2014 report of colleges and universities with the highest alumni donations, 8 of the top 10 were small liberal arts schools.

Alumni can also bring in job opportunities for current program students. With more and more prospective graduate students concerned about post-grad job placement, encouraging an active alumni community on your campus can help self-promote your program’s offerings.

Utilize Resources That Provide the Most Value for the Money

While it’s almost impossible to effectively recruit prospective students for free, there are a variety of ways to meet and engage students that provides the most bang for your buck.

Many small graduate programs participate in a variety of interactive conferences and workshops to find applicants and engage with a niche group of prospective students. While travel costs can often add up, these conferences provide an efficient way to meet a variety of interested potential applicants at one time.

While we admit that it’s a shameless plug, is a great way to vet students to determine those to seek out and begin a conversation with.

Our platform appeals to those programs that seek a large volume of applicants; with over 227,000 students registered on Gradschoolmatch, it’s easy to find the students that your program is looking for.

However, if your program is looking for very specific students that fit a set of criteria, it’s easy to search for students by GPA, graduate year, and field of academic interest, thus eliminating students who don’t fit the bill.

Our platform is also very affordable; compared with Google AdWords, where the cost of keywords for programs in some fields can reach upwards of $30 per click, Gradschoolmatch offers highly targeted matching with students that you personally pre-qualify. Gradschoolmatch allows a higher level of control in the recruiting process, leading to better applicants and greater return-on-investment for your program.

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