Higher Education CRM

Higher Education CRM software, and CRM software in general, serves one overarching goal: to create more valuable customer relationships. This includes making existing relationships more valuable as well as creating new relationships to in turn create value. most HEIs seek CRM software to improve their recruitment programs, improve communication (with students, parents, donors and the general public) and improve fundraising efforts by strengthening relationships with alumni. To meet these goals, HEI CRM systems help with data collection and analysis and the launching and management of campaigns that are based on that data analysis.

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Showing 1 - 20 of 274 products
Showing 1 - 20 of 274 products

Zendesk Sell

Zendesk Sell (formerly Base) is the web and mobile-based customer relationship management application that allows B2B and B2C sales professionals to manage sales, track leads and engage proactively with customers from anywhere. Th...Read more

4.28 (137 reviews)

102 recommendations


Shape's cloud-based solution offers tools designed to manage online marketing and promotions, capture leads from online sources, organize sales pipelines, connect with customers and automate everyday tasks. Shape is suitable for b...Read more

4.86 (28 reviews)

65 recommendations


NetSuite CRM

With a strong emphasis on sales and marketing automation, customer support and partner management, NetSuite CRM+ is a comprehensive, Web-based client relationship management system for small and midsize businesses. ...Read more

3.91 (187 reviews)

58 recommendations


Thryv is an all-in-one business management solution designed to help small businesses with essential business functions. With Thryv, business owners can expand their online presence, improve any customer relationship, and streamli...Read more

4.23 (382 reviews)

52 recommendations


Salesforce Sales Cloud

The Salesforce Sales Cloud is an on-demand CRM platform offering applications for small, midsize, and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and customer relationships. This Salesforce platform has CRM capabilities tha...Read more

4.37 (16913 reviews)

30 recommendations


ActiveCampaign's category-defining customer experience automation platform (CXA) helps over 130,000 businesses in 170 countries meaningfully engage with their customers. The platform gives businesses of all sizes access to 500+ pr...Read more

4.61 (1612 reviews)

25 recommendations



LeadSquared is a cloud-based marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) solution for businesses of all sizes. It serves clients in industries such as finance, e-commerce, education, health and wellness, market...Read more

4.15 (61 reviews)

19 recommendations


FreeAgent CRM

FreeAgent is a complete CRM platform and robust work management system. FreeAgent helps teams get everything in one place, work more collaboratively to get more done, and track and improve performance. Whether it’s a deal, a proje...Read more

4.65 (71 reviews)

18 recommendations

CentraHub CRM

Centra Hub CRM is a solution designed to help businesses of any size streamline sales, customer service, and marketing processes. It can be hosted on the cloud or installed on-premise. With live dashboards, custom reporting, and a...Read more

4.05 (21 reviews)

16 recommendations


Claritysoft CRM

Claritysoft is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed for midsize and large enterprise businesses. It offers sales automation, customer service and support, marketing automation and social CRM withi...Read more

4.49 (107 reviews)

11 recommendations


Software pricing tips

Read our Higher Education CRM Buyers Guide

Subscription models

  • Per employee/per month: This model allows you to pay a monthly fee for each of your employees.
  • Per user/per month: Users pay a monthly fee for users—normally administrative users—rather than all employees.

Perpetual license

  • This involves paying an upfront sum for the license to own the software and use it indefinitely.
  • This is the more traditional model and is most common with on-premise applications and with larger businesses.

Rated best value for money


Quickvase is a low-code application development platform that enables organizations to unite information, people, and workflows within distribution in a single, cloud-based platform. Unlike traditional software solutions, Quickvas...Read more

4.46 (241 reviews)

6 recommendations


Used by over 20,000 global companies, Zendesk has made a name for itself as a sophisticated, yet simple Web-based help desk solution....Read more

4.36 (2787 reviews)

5 recommendations



Issuetrak is a flexible issue tracking software solution that can be configured to suit the needs of a variety of industries and usages, including IT Help Desk, Customer Support, Project Management, and more. Issuetrak can be dep...Read more

4.53 (163 reviews)

4 recommendations


Creatio CRM

Creatio CRM is a no-code powered suite of high-end products for marketing, sales, and service automation to automate the entire customer journey with a maximum degree of freedom. •Marketing Creatio - a ready-to-use platform to ...Read more

4.76 (87 reviews)

4 recommendations


Designed and developed exclusively for student-specialist marketers and recruiters, Akero helps you improve marketing performance and increase student enrollments. It’s an easy-to-use, subscription-based platform that sits as an e...Read more

4.80 (10 reviews)

3 recommendations


Really Simple Systems CRM

Really Simple Systems is an easy to use cloud CRM system designed for small and mid-sized organizations, yet also perfect for larger teams. There’s a customizable Sales CRM, plus options for Marketing and Service tools and integra...Read more

4.44 (362 reviews)

2 recommendations


Founded in 2003, Vivantio is a leading provider of customer service optimization software and solutions for demanding B2B service teams. By combining the comprehensive power of enterprise-level software with the flexibility of a ...Read more

4.28 (165 reviews)

2 recommendations


Freshsales is a salesforce automation solution that enables businesses of all sizes to streamline lead management, client interaction, marketing insights, customer relationship management and other operations. The platform enables...Read more

4.59 (490 reviews)

1 recommendations


SAP Customer Experience

Whether you’re a mid-market company looking for an on-demand CRM application or a large enterprise that needs a robust, end-to-end client management solution, SAP can meet the unique technology needs of your company. ...Read more

4.19 (208 reviews)

1 recommendations

InvGate Service Desk

InvGate Service Desk is an IT service management platform that offers help desk request fulfillment, customer service and support and self-service knowledge management. The system is compatible with Mac, Windows, and iPad (or othe...Read more

4.66 (88 reviews)

1 recommendations

Popular Higher Education CRM Comparisons

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: May 16, 2022

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is central to modern business. It helps maintain and organize all of a company's information on its relationships with customers and is the foundation for creating more valuable relationships.

But what about higher education institutions (HEIs)? They aren't "businesses" in the normal sense of the word. HEIs have a range of relationship types—with prospective students, enrolled students and graduates—that don't fit any of the standard business world's molds. So what exactly is higher education CRM software, and how are colleges and universities using it? Read on to find out!

What Is Higher Education CRM Software?
How Is CRM Different From Other Higher Education Software?
Common Features of Higher Education CRM Software
Key Considerations for Purchasing Higher Education CRM Software

What Is Higher Education CRM Software?


Higher Education CRM software, and CRM software in general, serves one overarching goal: to create more valuable customer relationships. This includes making existing relationships more valuable as well as creating new relationships to in turn create value.

In the business world, more value usually means simply more money. But few schools are entirely profit-driven, so what exactly does "creating value" really mean in the context of an HEI? It can mean:

  • Attracting new students and increasing enrollment
  • Increasing student engagement in school activities
  • Growing community involvement with school programs
  • Strengthening relationships with alumni and faculty
  • Improving relationships with donors and alumni

These are some of the broader goals of higher education CRM software. We'll discuss them, and the specific CRM applications used to meet them, in more detail below. Before doing that, however, it will be helpful to first distinguish CRM from the other software platforms used by institutions for higher learning.

How Is CRM Different From Other Higher Education Software?

There's no shortage of software designed for HEIs. Traditionally, the most common type used by learning institutions is called school administration software. Another commonly used term is "student information system." These systems are designed to manage the mission-critical aspects of school administration, such as:

  • The application process
  • Class enrollment and scheduling
  • Tuition invoicing and billing
  • Class attendance and student grading
  • Class credit and graduation requirements
  • Student and parent contact information

Screenshots of student-facing portals in STARS school management system

Example screenshots of student-facing portals in STARS school management system

As you can see, school administration software focuses on the nuts-and-bolts activities of school administration. It operates in relatively black-and-white contexts where, for example, a student is either enrolled or is not; a bill is either paid or is not; and classes are either attended or not.

Contrast this with HEI CRM software, which operates in the much larger and much less black-and-white areas of school administration. It can help schools in the following areas:

  • Finding and attracting applicants from different pools and groups
  • Improving course offerings to increase retainment and better meet student needs
  • Strengthening student and alumni relations to improve fundraising
  • Clearly communicating a school's mission statement and benefit to the community

Put another way, school administration software and HEI CRM systems are both used to manage information. While school administration software uses that information to facilitate the school's daily operations, HEI CRM uses it to improve relationships while working toward a school's larger strategic goals, such as those listed above.

Common Features of Higher Education CRM Software

Speaking very generally, most HEIs seek CRM software to improve their recruitment programs, improve communication (with students, parents, donors and the general public) and improve fundraising efforts by strengthening relationships with alumni.

To meet these goals, HEI CRM systems help with data collection and analysis and the launching and management of campaigns that are based on that data analysis. Features and applications that are commonly built into HEI CRM systems can include:

Email marketing Automate email campaigns, measure their performance and iteratively improve them based on data from previous campaigns.
Recruit management These tools manage the entire pipeline of new applicants and recruits, automating many of the steps in these lengthy processes.
Data integration tools These apps help integrate data from other systems (e.g., school management and student information systems) to improve the CRM and vice versa.
Social media apps Social media monitoring apps help school administrators keep track of relevant online discussions and help coordinate the school's responses.
Contact information management A core app in all CRM platforms, these databases ensure schools use the right details when reaching out to applicants, students and other interested parties.
Personalized communications Personalization tools help automate the above (and other) activities by helping schools customize communications based on a recipient's current status or success of previous communications.

While CRM as a type of software has been around for decades, only in the past five or so years have vendors begun tailoring it to the specific needs of higher education institutions. It's a relatively young market, and offerings vary greatly between vendors. HEIs looking for a system that includes CRM capabilities along with other features might be interested in higher education ERP systems.

Give our advisors a call at (844) 687-6771 if you need help determining which vendors offer which specific applications.

Key Considerations for Purchasing Higher Education CRM Software

Adoption: Single department or entire school? One lesson learned from the world of business is that CRM systems work best (and return the most value) when they're used by all of a company's customer-facing departments. Before a school begins the selection process, it should first have a clear understanding of how the system will be used across campus, not only in one isolated department.

Deployment. Cloud or on-premise? CRM software is typically offered as a cloud-deployed (aka Software-as-a-Service or SaaS) or as an on-premise solution. With cloud software, the school subscribes to the platform and the vendor manages everything on the back end. With on-premise software, schools typically pay a one-time licensing fee but then manage the installation on their own servers.

Integration. Integrated or stand-alone? As discussed above, most colleges and universities already use multiple different systems of software. Before settling on a new CRM system, the school should determine what degree of integration it needs with existing systems. This determination should be made with help from the school's IT staff.