Possibilities of a Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree in the US | This Week in Admissions News

07/04/20235 minute read
Possibilities of a Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree in the US | This Week in Admissions News
The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, academics at Georgetown University discussed the possibility of launching a three-year bachelor’s degree in the United States much like the practice in the UK. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!

Possibilities of a Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree in the US

One of the drawing factors for the UK over the US has always been the shorter time to earn a degree. Now this might be a possibility in the US as well. Academics met at Georgetown University and proposed the creation of a three-year bachelor’s program equivalent to a four-year college degree, Inside Higher Ed has reported. It was part of a larger plan to address two of the most persistent challenges in higher education: improving student outcomes and lowering the cost of a bachelor’s degree. 

Unlike the other three-year options that exist on the market, their proposal isn’t focused on accelerating bachelor’s degree programs but rather redesigning them to fit within three years. That means cutting off chunks of credits and building a tightly packaged curriculum with all the essentials. While the standard bachelor’s program is 120 credit hours, their proposals require 90 to 100 credits. “The four-year degree isn’t working for a lot of people,” said Lori Carrell, the chancellor of the University of Minnesota at Rochester, noting higher education’s high cost and low degree attainment, which has “squandered human potential at times.”

The institutions with pilot programs are the American Public University system, Brigham Young University Idaho, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Merrimack College, New England College, Northwood University, Portland State University, the University of Minnesota at Morris, the University of Minnesota at Rochester, the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and Utica University. All 12 pilot programs are in different stages of progress. Some institutions, like Georgetown, are only beginning to explore the idea. Others, like Merrimack College and BYU Idaho, have developed ready-to-launch proposals that they hope their respective accreditors will approve. And other institutions have dropped out along the way, shrinking the pilot pool from 14 to 12.

The colleges involved are exploring different pathways to the idea. Merrimack College started exploring the idea during the Covid pandemic. Indiana University of Pennsylvania decided to explore three-year degrees due to the loss of faculty members to retrenchments and retirements. The American Public University system, which enrolls a large population of adult learners, is proposing a 90-credit-hour bachelor’s of science in cybersecurity that would eliminate 30 hours of electives while retaining general education courses. At BYU Idaho, which also enrolls a high number of adult learners, the focus is on building a “nested certificate structure,” which would offer three certificates plus general education courses that would add up to a total of 90 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree.

There is a long way to go before any of these programs get approved and start enrolling students. But as the cost of college rises to astronomical levels, many students will definitely be interested in pursuing a shorter university degree.

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  1. More US states are not requiring a four year bachelor’s degree for government jobs, Times Higher Education has reported. Governors of North Carolina, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alaska and Maryland have dropped the requirement of a four-year college degree for most state jobs. The private sector is also responding to more skills-based hiring practices, including companies such as IBM and General Motors. Since autumn 2021, 1.23 million students have departed colleges and universities. On top of that, there are 39 million working adults with some college education, but no degree.
  2. Turnitin, a widely-used plagiarism detection service, has announced that its software will now detect AI-generated language in student assignments with a ‘98% accuracy rate’, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. While detection software could be helpful in the short term, survey shows that colleges have yet to develop guidelines on the use of AI tools. In the long run, educators must integrate artificial intelligence into their classrooms and come up with ‘new methods of assessment’, said Michael Rettinger, president emeritus at the International Center for Academic Integrity.
  3. The MSc in Sustainability, Enterprise and the Environment program at Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford is expanding in 2023, Poets & Quants has reported. The program will admit 35 students in its September intake, up from 25 in previous years. The course, which was launched in 2021, received over 550 applications in the latest rounds, making it the most applied to graduate program per place at the University of Oxford. The MSc equips current and future decision makers with the academic knowledge and practical skills to lead enterprise toward net zero, with a focus on making the transition fair and just for everyone.
  4. Harvard University admitted a record number of Asian American students to its class of 2027, NBC News has reported. In a breakdown of the incoming class released by the university last week, Harvard revealed that 29.9% of admitted applicants are Asian American. It’s a 2.1% jump from last year’s number. There are a couple of possible reasons for this, said Julie Park, an associate professor at the University of Maryland who studies racial equity in high education. One could be an increase in Asian American legacy admits, which favors children of Harvard alumni in the admissions process. It also coincides with a population growth of Asian American young adults and high school graduates in the U.S. generally.