Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Balancing profit motive and student success: A case study of three regionally accredited for-profit higher education institutions
by Moore, Kelly Thumm, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2015, 165; 3704047
Abstract (Summary)

For-profit colleges and universities and accrediting agencies have been the subject of criticism and scrutiny over the past few years. This dissertation examines the primary reason for this scrutiny: the seeming conflict between profit motive and student success. It ascertains the educational values of three regionally accredited for-profit college presidents and explains the differences in how presidents and institutions balance profit motive with student success. To do so, it focuses on three central questions: first, how do for-profit colleges and universities acknowledge and address this central dilemma of balancing profit motive with student success? Second, is accreditation a constructive force or an obstacle in resolving this dilemma? And third, what other institutional factors play a role in resolving this dilemma?

Using a case study approach, this dissertation examines three "best in class" for-profit institutions, all of which are regionally accredited with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. It concludes that each of these institutions uses a business model that ensures fiscal responsibility but not profit maximization. It also shows that accreditation in each acts as a constructive force, motivating the institutions' focus on assessment of student learning and improvement of student outcomes. Accreditation can also further legitimize these institutions' educational quality in a competitive marketplace that includes both for- and non-profit institutions. Finally, other factors for these institutions' success include family ownership, small enrollment numbers, and constant program evaluation. These factors enabled both a greater focus on student success and the flexibility to retool, add, or eliminate programs to ensure financial viability and stability.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Finney, Joni E.
Commitee: Eckel, Peter, Kaplan, Eric, Naughton, Blake A.
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 76/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Higher education
Keywords: Accreditation, For-profit colleges, Profit motive, Student success
Publication Number: 3704047
ISBN: 978-1-321-76200-6
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