Critical mass

Programs normally need to be of a certain size to function well.

As a rule of thumb, programs are seldom viable with fewer than ten students. In general, if you can't see ten students, then you shouldn't bother with accreditation. Economies of scale start to kick in at about 20 students.

The exceptions to the ten-student minimum are:

  • programs of half a dozen full-time non-marginal students
  • programs where the students' productivity as interns is comparatively quite high to the effort put in. (These are obviously not marginal students.)
  • individually mentored higher-level programs.

Programs with mostly marginal students are seldom viable, even if they are quite big. "Marginal" might mean low commitment to learn, barely meeting admission requirements, higher risk of dropping out, or particular behavioral problems. Besides, a course also might not be viable if there is little assurance that the prospective students will actually apply to the course, or if most prospective students have learning or intellectual disabilities and you cannot provide extra support services.