Promoting a New Program

Before you start any promotion, please remember that we cannot promote programs that have not been approved by SCHEV. This does not mean you cannot begin strategizing and gathering materials for the eventual launch. It does mean that your website cannot and should not reflect any changes, and you cannot advertise the program.  

For graduate programs: One thing to keep in mind is that SCHEV approval does not automatically put the new program into our graduate application system. There is an internal process required after being granted SCHEV approval. Please stay connected with the CHSS Graduate Academic Affairs team throughout the process to ensure prompt and efficient completion of each step in the process.  


Determine your audience: Of course, you would love it if every single person on earth was interested in applying for your program. Alas, the world is imperfect. Instead of trying to reach everyone, therefore, focus on the people you know will say “yes.” Write down specific groups who would have an interest in your program, who would benefit from your program, and who would be more likely to apply.  

Example: The Criminal Justice program is practitioner-focused, meaning their audience is people already in the field of criminal justice who are hoping to advance their career. Choosing to narrow their scope specifically to police officers in the northern Virginia area could yield more effective results.  

A suggestion for determining your audience is to combine a pipeline (in the example above, “police officers”) with geographical awareness (such as “Fairfax County,” or “Northern Virginia”).  

Establish your budget: Everything costs money, even program promotion. Every department is given an annual marketing budget as part of their overall budget. Each department divides that money differently among their individual programs; talk with your department chair about how much can be allocated to your program.  

Your budget will determine what you can do in terms of promotion. There are plenty of low-cost avenues for program promotion, but you need to know what you are working with before determining what paths might be best for your program.  

Make a plan: Your audience and your budget are foundational to creating your plan. Certain audiences will respond better to certain types of marketing; how much money you can use determines what types of marketing are reasonable.  

Creating that plan is also a critical part of success: it helps focus your efforts, and it will help keep you accountable throughout the application cycle.  

The Marketing and Communications team is happy to meet with you to help you create a marketing plan.  

If you wish to complete a marketing plan on your own, here are a few ideas to help structure your plan: 

  1. Application cycle: We all work within the cycle of admissions and applications, so use that preexisting structure to your advantage. What marketing can be done before applications open? How can you promote your program between admittance and submission of an intent to enroll? Think about your efforts in relation to where they occur in the cycle.
  2. Continual efforts vs. Reoccurring efforts vs. One-time efforts:
    1. Continual efforts: These marketing efforts run continually throughout the year. Example: Target X inquiry emails; your program website page.
    2. Reoccurring efforts: These efforts happen at the same time each year, if not continuously. Example: Calling admitted students who have not submitted their Intent to Enroll to see if they have any questions or concerns each spring; sending postcards to an audience pool each fall to promote your program.
    3. One-time efforts: Anything that you do without a set schedule. Example: a one-time email campaign announcing the creation of your program; putting flyers up in the JC.
  3. Add-ons: One thing about marketing is that it does not have to be a completely original and separate effort. In fact, it is often better if you connect your program marketing to preexisting efforts within your college. Consider where promoting a program might be an additive to something already established and reoccurring. Example: promoting your graduate programs at the end of each event in a speaker series.
  4. Is it reasonable?: You are busy. We understand. Before you commit to any marketing effort, reflect and consider what is reasonable for you to complete consistently given your other responsibilities.

Promotion Ideas

Sometimes the hardest part of creating a marketing strategy is knowing what is possible. Here are some ideas to get you started. Remember: you do not need to do everything. Focus your energy on 1-3 ideas from each category to build the basis of your plan.  

Remember that anything including a visual aid—such as graphics, flyers, video, mailings, and others—needs to abide by the Mason brand guidelines and needs to be submitted for an Admin 1111 brand review before being distributed.  

**Cost refers both to money and time invested.  

Low-No Cost

Update your website: Yes, this counts as promotion! Your website is a critical part of your overall strategy; your webpages should be incorporated into your messaging and other materials because this is where the key details live. Work with the CHSSWeb team to create a compelling, informative, and accessible program page.  

Create a flyer: Print materials are still valuable, especially those that can also be digitized. We have a suite of CHSS-themed templates available to the units. The Office of University Branding also has an extensive collection of templates you can utilize. We also have a guide on how to create a compelling flyer.  

Advertise your program on Mason TVs: The TVs in the Johnson Center are a fantastic way to get your program out to the Mason community. Check out the Orca TV website for more information on getting your message up on the screen.  

Write an article announcing your program for CHSSweb: Raise awareness of your program by announcing it via the website. There are a variety of ways we can use that article to further promote the program, such as pitching it to The George, the Provost’s newsletter, student newsletters, or other publications. Contact Melanie O'Brien, senior writer/editor for CHSS, to learn more about pitching an article to internal media outlets (  

Tell people: This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many people forget that telling people on campus about the new program is important. With materials you have created, such as a flyer, info sheet, or web article, tell Mason advisors, faculty, and staff about the new program. Focus on units you imagine becoming feeder programs. Example: The Spanish Heritage Language Certificate is a terrific addition to a Master of Education, so they made sure to tell faculty and staff in the College of Education and Human Development about this new certificate.  

Medium Cost 

Mailings: Mailings are still an effective method of promotion, especially as we are all inundated with emails. Mailing campaigns require building a mail list, which can incur extra cost if done by buying lists from places such as the GRE.  

Conference advertising: Every field of study has unique conferences specifically for its scholars, as well as larger interdisciplinary conferences like NCUR. Many conferences offer advertising space in their programs which you can utilize or have an opportunity for tabling in an exhibit hall. Professional conferences and events are the same. Make a list of some of the conferences, seminars, or workshops hosted nearby that might attract your particular audience, and look out for opportunities to advertise.  

Journal advertising: Journal advertising offers your program an ideal opportunity to reach a targeted group of potential students. Remember those pipelines you identified previously? Now is the time to research any publications (digital or print) that reach out to those groups specifically. Keep in mind that the cost for this option will not only include the payment to the publication, but may involve hiring a graphic designer to create the advertisement for your program within the provided specifications. 

High Cost

Digital Advertising: Digital advertising encompasses both social media ads and Google search ads. These methods of advertising are often highly effective, but require a significant investment of time, money, and energy to have the greatest impact—experts in the industry say that any campaign under $5,000 is not worth pursuing. Advertising campaigns also require unique landing pages on the web, original graphics, and new copy. There are lower cost routes—such as boosting preexisting posts on Facebook—that can work similarly to an advertising campaign with less time/monetary/energy commitment, though they are less effective.  

Promotional Video: Videos are an excellent marketing resource, because they can be used and repurposed multiple times in multiple places, including shared on social media, embedded in a webpage, and included in email campaigns. Video is also expensive. While not as costly as social media advertising, contracted videographers are still a high cost, especially if you want to create multiple videos that can be repurposed.