By Denise Dick
The availability of three-year degrees at Ohio’s public universities doesn’t change the requirements for graduation but offers an opportunity to students to earn their degree quicker.
“It’s not a reduction in graduation requirements,” said Ikram Khawaja, Youngstown State University provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We provide a path to allow them to be on a fast track.”
Gov. John Kasich last year required that by Oct. 15, Ohio’s 13 public universities make 10 percent of their bachelor’s degree programs able to be completed in three years. The number increases to 60 percent by 2014.
“The three-year degree option is one more way to ensure students are ready to enter the work force,” Chancellor Jim Petro said in a news release.
YSU offers 10 of its 94 bachelor’s programs that can be completed in three years.
In order to do that though, students have to enroll at YSU with substantial college course work completed while in high school. That’s possible with advanced placement courses, International Baccalaureate or YSU’s College in High School program.
It involves planning on the student’s part and challenges for high-school guidance counselors and university advisers, said Teri Riley, associate provost.
The 10 programs available include six in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and one each in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; business; health and human services; and fine and performing arts colleges.
“We’ll continually add to that,” Riley said.
The programs were selected because of their flexibility. Programs like engineering, nursing or education don’t lend themselves as easily.
To earn a degree in a shorter amount of time, students have to take most of their general-education requirements in high school.
Three-year completion also requires students to take more credit hours per semester. Twelve credits constitutes a full-time student, but to achieve a degree on the accelerated track, students have to take 15 to 18 credits per semester.
To graduate, a student must have 124 credits.
The initial programs available on the three-year track don’t require a student to attend summer school.
“They could cut down on the number of credit-hours per semester if they take classes in the summer,” Riley said.
When the requirement increases to 60 percent of degree programs, many students will have to attend classes during the summer to graduate in three years.
The law requires universities to offer the three-year degree path. It doesn’t require that a particular number of students pursue it.
“How many students go with this path is going to be wait and see,” Khawaja said. “We do have many high-achieving students,” Khawaja said.