Three Year Bachelor's Degrees

Three Models from Large, Public Research Institutions

Topics: Academic Planning, Academic Affairs, Student Retention and Success


The idea of a three-year bachelor’s degree has surfaced many times over the past few decades, and earned both ardent believers and strong critics. The following report looks at how three-year degree programs have been implemented at three large, public research institutions. It evaluates different designs for program structure and services, observed impacts on students and institutions, and suggested practices for successful program implementation.

  • Key observations from our research:

    1. A very small proportion of students elect to enroll in three-year degree programs; as a result, institutional impacts, both positive and negative, are limited.

    2. Contact feedback indicates that, while some three-year degree programs can reduce student time to degree and cost to degree, other programs do not result in significantly different outcomes from four-year programs.

    3. Students in three-year degree programs receive program road maps, priority registration, and supplemental advising.

donwload the report