'At SNHU, three-year degrees do work'

Last modified: Saturday, July 16, 2011
Re 'Cut college costs with three-year degrees' (Monitor Opinion page, June 11):

The Washington Post editorial advocating three-year college degrees raises questions. Pricing students out of higher education may be bad for students and bad for the nation, but some may rightly question whether students can learn as much in three years as they can in four.

Fortunately, we have an answer to this question right in our back yard.

Southern New Hampshire University's three-year degree program in business administration graduated its 12th class in May.

Students attend and pay for just six semesters and don't have to take summer or winter-session courses. They score at or above their four-year counterparts on nationally normed major tests and fully participate in extra-curricular activities.

Because theirs is a competency-based program, learning - not class-time - is the constant.

For example, public speaking instruction is built into all first-year courses so students don't have to take the separate public speaking course that four-year students must take.

They earn three credits for public speaking at the end of their first year if they have attained the requisite public speaking competencies.

Although students take fewer courses, they still graduate with 120 credits, the same as their four-year counterparts. However, these three-year students graduate with 25 percent less in college costs.

Since the three-year degree program is based upon competencies, future employers are assured that upon graduation, three-year degree students have achieved a high quality education.

This program is the longest running and most successful three-year program of its kind in the nation. It shows that three-year programs can work.



(The writer is a professor at Southern New Hampshire University and teaches in its three-year degree program. He is coauthor of the forthcoming book, Saving Higher Education: The Integrated, Competency-Based Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program.)