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Higher Ed in the News

Economy spurs look at accelerated 3-year degrees

May 23, 2009

College students commonly take longer than four years to get a bachelor's degree, but some U.S. colleges and universities are looking at slicing a year off their undergraduate programs to save families time and money.

The three-year degree is the common model at the University of Cambridge and Oxford University in England, and some U.S. colleges and universities have begun experimenting with the idea.

The four-year bachelor's degree has been the model in the United States since the first universities began operating before the American Revolution.

Critics fear that an undergraduate's academic and social experience would be compromised by shortening the undergraduate degree to three years -- college would tilt more toward job training and away from the broad-based education.

Lawmakers in Rhode Island's legislature recently approved a bill that requires all state institutions of higher education to create three-year bachelor's programs that would begin in fall 2010.

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