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Professor floats idea of three-year B.A. to cut college costs

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,315 Senior Member
"In theory, it's a simple idea. With the cost of attending college rising, why not reduce the typical time for a bachelor's degree from four years to three?" ...


Replies to: Professor floats idea of three-year B.A. to cut college costs

  • salandersalander Registered User Posts: 386 Member
    Seems pretty reasonable
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    If you can't afford a 4 yr degree, why not attend one of the many community colleges that offer Two year programs?
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,363 Senior Member
    This has been floated many times before, and nothing has come of it.
  • TranquilMindTranquilMind Registered User Posts: 738 Member
    Many areas of Europe do this already.
  • WasatchWriterWasatchWriter Registered User Posts: 2,528 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    It's an idea that appeals to a lot of legislators. Seeing it proposed by a professor at a private school is a little surprising -- then again, Weinstein is an economist in a Public Management program.

    The losers will be those who support general education. Organizations like AAC&U have been trying in recent years to communicate the relevance of GE to employment, but it's a hard row to hoe. The supporters tend to be idealists, but GE courses as they are actually taught frequently fail to live up to those ideals. I'm an idealist myself, but if GE reform doesn't make some serious progress in the next 5 years, I'm going to lose my patience. I might advocate for three-year degrees myself.
  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl Registered User Posts: 2,193 Senior Member
    Community college is an associates degree or certificate program in two years, not a bachelors. This article talks about getting a bachelors in 3 years. Alot of schools are restricting students to four courses per semester. Simple economics: more semesters, more $$, less semesters, less $$. If your courses are balanced well, you should be able to handle five courses. I know students who take four courses and only go to school MWF, or T/TH with a couple of late afternoon courses. This is something D and I have talked about. If the school she attends allows it and she can balance her courses in such a way that it is not too demanding, she will take five courses most semesters.
  • bookreaderbookreader Registered User Posts: 1,890 Senior Member
    Community college is simply being suggested as a way to save money and I assumed that it was implied (I know I was an idiot for assuming!) that the student would then go on to a 4 year university.
    My daughter did this - she took 90 credits at a community and then only needed one year to finish up her 4 year degree. She didn't save time, but she did save thousands this way as she only paid the university tuition for one year but ended up with a 4 year university degree.

    Schools that allow 5 courses a semester generally offer 3 credit classes. Schools that only allow 4 classes per semester generally offer 4 credit classes. 4 - 4 credit classes would give you 16 credits a semester. To take five 4 credit classes would put you at 20 credits and almost all colleges would not allow that.

    One of my daughters took six 3 credit classes each semester and was able to finish early. Her her college offered mainly 4 credit classes, she could not have done this as this school did not allow students to have more than 18 credits a semester.
  • rhandcorhandco Registered User Posts: 4,281 Senior Member
    It seems common in Australia. My understanding, for an engineering student like my friend's son, is that there is no requirement for humanities or liberal arts, it is 100% engineering courses including pertinent math and science.

    My brother finished his degree in 3 years and one trimester. Then the school started charging students for all four years, even if they finish early. He did not take any summer or winter courses, just overloaded each semester.
  • NJSueNJSue Registered User Posts: 2,789 Senior Member
    If your courses are balanced well, you should be able to handle five courses.

    It depends entirely on the curriculum and the rigor of the courses. The number of hours spent in class per week is not a good indicator of rigor. At many elite colleges, four per semester is the historical and current norm. It is not some nefarious new plot to make more money. I would especially advise first-semester freshmen not to take more than 4 classes. Many students who load up on credit hours in one semester end up cutting corners and not doing well, or collapsing from stress.

    Most colleges that restrict students to four courses as an institutional norm have excellent retention and four-year graduation rates, so it's not really a problem for their students.
  • xiggixiggi Registered User Posts: 25,432 Senior Member
    Many areas of Europe do this already.

    That is part of the Bologna Agreement.


    In practice, the system is one of 3UG/2Graduate years cycle as opposed to our 4+1.

  • NJSueNJSue Registered User Posts: 2,789 Senior Member
    3-year degrees are common in countries where incoming university students choose a program from the get-go (no undeclared majors, etc.). Generally, these students are also more focused, mature, and much better prepared academically than the average US college freshman. I think 3-year programs would work well for certain kinds of students here, but they won't meet the needs of many students currently occupying seats in US colleges. So I'm skeptical that 3-year programs will fundamentally address the issue of college costs for large numbers of people.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,285 Senior Member
    ^ ^

    Countries with 3-year BA/BS degrees also have education systems where GE requirements are handled in HS or sometimes even middle school.

    The BA/BS content/requirements in such countries would be more akin to something leaning much closer to a specialized American Masters degree.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,545 Senior Member
    Well, seniors in HS could complete many of the Core/GE classes thru AP or DE....that would eliminate a year.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,990 Senior Member
    In theory, a typical liberal arts (humanities, social studies, science) major plus a moderate number of general education courses could be fit into three years of normal course loads (about 90-96 credits or about 23-24 typical size (4 credit) courses), if the total number of credits or courses to graduate were lowered to that. However, the schedule would have little or no space for free electives, and the student would have to choose courses carefully (departments would likely have to give a schedule template for students to follow). Exploring as an undecided student or changing major would be more likely to result in late graduation.

    That would be less feasable at schools with more voluminous general education requirements, or for majors with relatively large numbers of required credits or courses.
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