MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
And NPR's Larry Abramson tells us more.
LARRY ABRAMSON: Matt Mayer of the Buckeye Institute, a free-market think tank, says a three- year degree would help make higher ed more efficient.
MATT MAYER: If we really kind of strip down higher ed and the four-year degree down to a really rigorous three-year process, for many kids that would be a great road, get their skills, get their knowledge base, graduate and then become productive members of society.
ABRAMSON: The idea is that students spend less time paying tuition and more time working. The challenge is doing that without watering down the degree. Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, has had a degree in 3 program since 2005. University Vice President Tom Taylor says the program appeals to students who are willing to go to school year round.
TOM TAYLOR: Students are utilizing summers to take full loads - two, in some cases three, summers - depending on the academic program.
ABRAMSON: There is a demand for this kind of program, but it's limited. Only 25 or so students a year sign up for degree in 3 at Ball State. Tom Taylor says the program only attracts students who already know what they want to do.
TAYLOR: Students are very focused on their both academic and career choices.
ABRAMSON: Well, Baldwin-Wallace College, a liberal arts school outside of Cleveland, is working on a true three-year degree, according to Associate Vice President Jim McCargar.
JIM MCCARGAR: We think that this would be better in a time of real economic challenge for students and their families. This would reduce the cost of attendance for this particular program at Baldwin-Wallace by 25 percent.
ABRAMSON: Judging by the reaction of commission president Sylvia Manning, that's not going to happen anytime soon.
SYLVIA MANNING: There might be some utility in a three-year degree. I just don't think we should call it a bachelor's degree any more than I think we should call it a master's degree.
ABRAMSON: Larry Abramson, NPR News, Washington.
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