Weinstein’s idea isn’t original. Some campuses, including Bates College in Maine and Wesleyan University in Connecticut, have instituted similar programs, but widespread implementation is rare, Weinstein said. In the last five years, 22 private, nonprofit colleges have begun offering three-year degrees, according to the National Assn. of Independent Colleges and Universities.
Gov. Jerry Brown supports the idea of offering more three-year track degrees, and a University of California special panel — the Commission on the Future — suggested that fast-track degrees were worth exploring in 2010, but the UC system has never tried to implement or experiment with a three-year model.
“Colleges and universities are a little like the healthcare industry,” Weinstein said. “They’re not very transparent and tend to be risk averse. Changing them isn’t going to be a grassroots movement among the universities; it’s going to take a visionary to implement it from the top down.”