Prof: Three-Year Degree Trend 'Has to Occur'

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An Anderson financial planner says three-year degree programs, like one unveiled by Purdue University earlier this month, can save students approximately $20,000 in debt. Financial Enhancement Group LLC Managing Partner Joe Clark, who is also an adjunct professor at Purdue, expects other schools to roll out similar programs. He believes the initiative is a "home run" for older students returning to college. Clark says, however, traditional students may experience a challenge entering the work force with one fewer year to "mature and grow." Clark says the majority of the $20,000 in savings comes from not having to pay living expenses such as rent and food. He says there is also an opportunity cost of the revenue a student could be earning if he or she was working rather than attending college for a fourth year.

Clark says he would bet other schools will pick up on the idea, calling the three-year program "a trend that has to occur." He says schools also benefit through having another recruiting tool and the possibility of higher graduation rates.

Earlier this month, Purdue's Brian Lamb School of Communications rolled out a three-year degree program, which is underway beginning this academic year. The plan won the school a $500,000 incentive award through a college affordability initiative.

Originally Posted August 12, 2014

News Release

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue's Brian Lamb School of Communication has received a $500,000 university prize for its creation of a new three-year degree that will help students save money by completing their degrees more quickly.

The prize, funded through the Purdue president’s office, is the culmination of a university-wide challenge that President Mitch Daniels issued in an open letter in January. To help Purdue lead the innovation and transformation of higher education nationwide, Daniels offered $500,000 each to the Purdue department or program that creates the first three-year degree and the first competency-based degree. The recipient of the first competency-based degree will be announced later this month.

“In fields of study where they are feasible, three-year degrees may become a new norm in higher education, based on their big advantages in affordability and in speeding a student's entry into the world of productive work,” Daniels said. “We want Purdue to be at the front edge of innovations like this, which was the point of the prize incentive. The Lamb School's proposal was superior in its reach, to an initial five popular majors, and in its swiftness, being available this fall. Thanks to professor (Marifran) Mattson and her colleagues for pioneering this breakthrough; now let's hope that other departments catch the spirit and fashion their own such offerings."

Purdue students now have the option of an accelerated plan of study in the Brian Lamb School of Communication. Thanks to the school’s program - Think 3 Years! - students interested in majoring in general communication, public relations and strategic communication, mass communication, corporate communication and human relations will be able to complete their degree sooner and save money.

The program, Think 3 Years!, begins this fall, said Marifran Mattson, professor and head of the Brian Lamb School of Communication, which is housed in the College of Liberal Arts. The accelerated plan of study requires the same number of total credit hours, 120, as the four-year plan for either general communication, public relations and strategic communication, mass communication, corporate communication, and human relations. The four-year program is still available.

The three-year program requires summer courses as well, and students on this track will be guaranteed a spot in required courses, Mattson said. To be on track, students will need to commit to a communication major toward the end of their second semesters and follow the progression of courses.

“Our school's goal is to become the preferred destination for students interested in studying communication,” Mattson said. “And we determined that with thoughtful planning, each of our five majors can be accomplished in three years. Students also will be able to participate in a study abroad program. And those students who arrive with advanced placement or other course credit will have more flexibility in shaping their program.”

The estimated cost savings for the three-year program is $9,290 for Indiana residents, $18,692 for nonresidents and $20,252 for international students.

Source: Purdue University