New on Campus: The 3-Year Degree

Melissa Korn:

To combat rising college costs and student debt, more schools are offering a time- and money-saving idea: a three-year bachelor’s degree.

Schools including Purdue University, the University of Iowa and the University of South Carolina are betting that students will want to finish college sooner by spending a year less on campus. Whether there will be many takers, however, remains unclear.

Many early experiments with accelerated degrees have fallen flat. While cost is a crucial consideration for most families, and the vast majority need to borrow money, many students are eager to enjoy every bit of traditional college life, including social activities, athletics and summers off. The accelerated programs require students to give up some of these perks.

“Parents are really interested in saving time and money, [but] the students are really interested in the four years of a college experience,” said Jenna Templeton, vice president of academic affairs at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.