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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Study: Three-Year Degrees Need Work

Three-year bachelor’s programs may be one way to reduce the overall cost of higher education while moving students into the workforce faster, according to a new study by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).

PPI identified 32 institutions that were already offering bachelor’s degrees in three years but claimed all the programs deserved an “F” grade. “That’s because,” said the study report, “with the exception of a handful of schools such as Southern Oregon University, most are merely four-year programs squeezed into a three-year window.”

The study recommended that three-year programs reduce the number of general and liberal-arts courses required so that most of a student’s time can be devoted to in-depth work in one or two subjects. That’s how many European universities structure their three-year degrees.

To that end, the study said, students should also be required to declare a major or concentration as an entering first-year student, although allowed to switch later if they choose. Students also should be given more credit for completing Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses in high school.

The study also blasted the cost of three-year programs, noting most are just a little cheaper than four-year degrees, mainly because summer enrollment is usually necessary. PPI recommended a 25% drop in tuition and fees for three-year programs and also advocated that Congress reserve all federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants, solely for three-year students.

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