Part -time education at Johns Hopkins University: An analysis of institutional commitment

Sarah B Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania


Education for part-time learners is a vital component of the offerings at Johns Hopkins University and has been so since the University's founding in 1876. This research addresses the following questions: (1) What prompted the beginning of the part time programs? (2) Why do these programs persist today with strong and growing enrollments? (3) How is the institution being impacted by and responding to the unique needs of part-time students? The qualitative research included a review of historical and current documents as well as interviews with 27 academic and administrative leaders directly and/or indirectly involved with the programs. Although all eight degree-granting schools offer a variety of part-time programs, the research focused primarily on two graduate programs considered representative of the different academic and administrative structures: the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education and the Advanced Academic Programs of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. The findings gave rise to four primary conclusions: (1) The commitment to part-time education is significant and long-standing, and today the administrative leaders are working toward achieving a balance of motivations (serving the public and realizing a financial return), and the way these factors are considered could have implications for long-term quality; (2) The decentralization of program oversight in 1983 was an important change and generally addressed internal and external concerns about academic quality; (3) The part-time programs have established strong academic collaborations and have begun to coordinate some administrative activities on an ad hoc basis; and (4) The part-time programs have a cost and resource impact on University-wide administrative systems that extends to areas such as library services, real estate, and government relations. In summary, the overarching commitment to part-time education is achieved at Johns Hopkins University by balancing financial motivations with the desire to meet educational needs of the workforce. Through a period of internal and external review in the 1970s and 1980s, the organizational structure of the programs evolved to a model today that helps to strengthen the positive perceptions of the academic quality. Lessons have been learned that will hopefully be of benefit to other research universities.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Steinberg, Sarah B, "Part -time education at Johns Hopkins University: An analysis of institutional commitment" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168046.