three-year degree programs

6 ways schools can offer wallet-friendly three-year degree programs

A new report identifies outdated components of today's bachelor's degree system and offers tips for streamlined, cheaper degree attainment

A three-year bachelor’s degree may help students dodge some of the increasingly burdensome debt associated with higher education–that is, if the programs can get off the ground.

At least 32 institutions offer programs that help students graduate in three years, and more colleges and universities are expected to follow suit. Many of these three-year degree programs have existed for more than 10 years, notes Paul Weinstein Jr., a senior fellow of the Progressive Policy Institute and director of the Graduate Program in Public Management at Johns Hopkins University, in a report detailing the trend toward three-year bachelor’s degrees.

“American college students are facing a triple whammy–out-of-control college costs, record levels of student debt, and declining real earnings for college graduates,” Weinstein contends in the report, yet lawmakers haven’t taken any real action to remedy the issue.

But while the motive behind three-year degree programs is encouraging, the programs themselves are not–” if one were to assign a grade to the current crop of three-year bachelor’s degree programs, it would be an ‘F,'” Weinstein writes.

The primary reason for this poor performance? Many three-year degree programs try to squeeze four years of learning into three years, meaning they appeal primarily to a few highly motivated students and have small adoption rates–between 2 percent to 19 percent, according to research cited in the report.

Laura Ascione