When Three Years Isn’t Enough

The three-year bachelor’s degree is becoming strangely popular across the United States. But it doesn’t work everywhere. According to an article by Chris Dettro at the Springfield, Ill. State Journal-Register:

When interim University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry asked college officials to find out what it would take to create an accelerated degree program, he kick-started the process at all three U of I campuses.

But creating a program where students can graduate with a degree in fewer than four years might work better at the university’s main campus in Champaign-Urbana than at its campuses in Springfield and Chicago.

But University of Illinois Springfield [UIS] provost Harry Berman said the three-year degree idea is “relative to the traditional full-time student.”

Students attempting to graduate on a three-year plan would still have to earn 120 credit hours. That might save money on room and board for a traditional student but for the average student at UIS, who is typically older, a commuter, and part-time, the three year degree won’t help much at all.

Many students at UIS don’t graduate in four years, or even five. These students are working, and take a long time to finish college, if they finish at all. While 64 percent of students at Illinois’ flagship university, in Champaign-Urbana, graduate in four years, only 46 percent of Springfield students graduate in four years. Almost 27 percent of UIS students are enrolled online. While the school is studying the feasibility of the accelerated degree, it doesn’t look like three years will save anyone any money.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer