What is an Academic Program Developer?

An academic program developer will serve the needs of pedagogical staff, students and stakeholders across the organization. These program developers deliver business outcomes, execute initiatives across departments and coordinate project plans. Their cross-functional responsibilities include budgeting, scheduling and resourcing. They define academic structures, projects, work flows and departmental inter-connectivity.

Work Duties

Academic program developers drive their program’s projects to support business outcomes. They manage all academic aspects of new initiatives from inception to concept design to execution to evaluation. They must lead programs in transparent, productive and responsible ways that promote quality and efficiency. They apply standard project management practices to everything that they do at work. For example, they deal with project objectives, scopes, deadlines, schedules, success criteria and communication.

They plan, schedule and track changes, deliverables and milestones using standard software programs. Academic program developers must have strong knowledge of risk management, user acceptance testing, cross-project dependency assessments. They must clearly communicate project expectations to team members and enforce disciplinary actions in a timely fashion. They lead meetings with management and cross-functional teams to communicate status updates, discuss issues and understand potential impacts.

Expected Education and Experience

Academic program developers will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited higher learning institution. They are usually expected to have at least five years as a project or short-term program manager. They must have experience managing the execution, implementation and evaluation of appropriate projects. For example, academic program developers who deal with distance education software development projects must be familiar with current platforms, technologies and standards.

Most employers want candidates who have worked with senior leadership and external professionals to align project goals, requirements and expectations with business objectives. Employers want candidates who know how to define project team structures, monitor adherence to plans and quickly create unexpected project communication as needed. They should be able to produce clear and concise written and verbal communications. Employers will want a candidate with a successful track record of meeting deadlines in fast-paced environments with competing priorities.

Alternative Job Example

Academic program developers who work in colleges and universities will perform essential program tasks. For example, they may provide guidance and helpful information to students on the value, availability and the appropriateness of certain programs. These may be study-abroad programs for business students, designated portfolio programs for art students and one-on-one tutorial sessions for low performing students. Either way, they will help develop and expand small academic programs through different means.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, academic program developers who work with study-abroad programs will advise students on program costs, financial aid policies and potential scholarships. They will train, support and manage staff who research and connect with potential programs. They will provide staff with feedback and mentoring support regarding their project recommendations. They must ensure that print and online information is accurate and available to students. These academic program developers may host student orientation and preparation classes. They may even accompany students abroad in order to reach out to new schools and organizations.

Related Resource: What is Instructional Design?

An academic program developer will manage programs, project resources, matrix environments and vendor administration. They must ensure that projects and programs are delivered on-time and on budget.