The 3-Year College Degree: A Trend on the Rise?

Let’s face it – Student loan debt in the U.S. is an absurd trillion dollars and rising.

The cost of college is also skyrocketing with only higher price tags on the horizon.

Faced with these realities, families are forced to make tough decisions on getting their children a cost-effective degree.

As a result we are seeing an emergence of creative and nontraditional approaches to getting your student a college education without the inflated debt. Read on for more on what could become a new trend: the 3-year college degree.

– Scott

Is the 3-year College Degree on the Rise?

Colleges throughout the U.S. are steeped in tradition.

Unfortunately, outrageous price tags are also becoming a tradition that has students and their parents seeing red; namely, in their bank accounts.

More and more colleges are exploring nontraditional methods intended to buck that trend, and thus we see more 3-year degree programs emerging.

The 3-year degree works just like it sounds. Students take on a more rigorous and focused course load aimed towards achieving a Bachelor’s degree in three years instead of the customary four.

In doing so, students effectively cut out 25% of their college costs, which can mean a difference of tens of thousands of dollars.

The idea isn’t exactly new but it is gaining ground, and thanks to the economic climate, dozens of new schools have put 3-year programs in place.

Schools such as Hartwick College, UNC Greensboro, Wesleyan University, and Lipscomb University have added a 3-year track and more are sure to follow.

But is the shortened degree worth the resulting side effects?

Like any college decision, there are pros and cons.

On the positive side, there is clearly the massive amount of money you can save by taking advantage of 3-year programs.

In addition to the thousands saved on tuition, room and board, books, etc, getting out of college faster also means a student can get to work faster and start making money off of their investment.

So that means you spend less in order to start making money sooner.

The 3-year degree is also beneficial for students looking to continue their studies in graduate school.

By finishing their undergraduate responsibilities sooner, students can get a jump on long graduate programs (like medical degrees) or take the extra time to complete research projects that may help them get into competitive and prestigious grad schools.

On the flip side of things, some critics say that the shortened time in college stifles the intellectual growth that is supposed to occur during our coeducational years.

Not only does it put a greater amount of pressure on students to immediately decide what they want to study, the rigors of a 3-year course load will often mean much less time for extracurricular activities or a traditional college social life (not to mention wasting a year of eligibility for student-athletes.)

While 3-year degrees certainly look great from a financial perspective, families are wise to take into account all the pros and cons in making this very important decision.

To Your Family’s Successful College Search,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network, LLC
College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of the College Planning Network, LLC

Return to College Made Simple's Free Reports

Find us on Facebook! Find us on Facebook!

Increase Your SAT Scores Learn How to Increase the SAT Score... By 203 Point or More
Just tell us where to send the full report...
We'll also send you - at no charge - the College Funding Made Simple e-Course, delivered to your email inbox in 12 parts, by topic. With each part, you'll come away with valuable, actionable insights proven to help parents and students in the college admissions and funding process.

NO-SPAM PLEDGE: We believe that your personal information should stay that way. Rest assured, your email address is 100% confidential, and under no circumstance will we ever rent, sell or give away your email address outside of our own network without you specifically requesting us to do so.

Leave a comment
Your comment

Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.