School Launches New Three-Year Degree

The first semester of college is a challenging time for any student, as they learn new study habits and organizational skills. They also have to decide a major, setting a course for their professional lives. But some students at the University of Houston-Victoria are taking on an even bigger challenge, as they embark on an accelerated program in which they'll earn a bachelor's degree in just three years.

U-of-H Victoria Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. Jeffrey Di Leo says they put together the program in response to the state's efforts to have students complete their degrees in a more timely manner. It's also a way for students to save money.

"Our university is one of the lowest in terms of its cost in the state of Texas and our students are not in general, in particular, generally affluent. So a pathway to help them save along the way I think is very important."

Six freshmen are taking part in the pilot program, which is designed for students in psychology, criminal justice, and other humanities majors. Students complete a total of 120 credit hours, fifteen hours in the fall and spring semesters, ten hours in the summer. Di Leo says the key to completing a three-year program is motivation.

"For some people I would not advise that.  I would advise the first year being a more exploratory year. But these students come in, they know what they want to do. They know what degree they want, they know the kind of career pathway, and they see this as a real opportunity to enter that career a little bit sooner and save a little money along the way."

And Di Leo says the program can also put students on a quicker path to a graduate degree if they wish to study further before going into the workforce.

"I'd like to think of the degree-in-three as a degree-in-three-plus-one, where that fourth year, if it's really important for them to have a four-year experience, that they get into a master's program. Most of our master's programs are between thirty and thirty six hours, something they can complete in a year if they want."

Di Leo says students will be supported by advisors as they hit the educational fast track, and the university will gather input on how it can expand the program. Gail Delaughter, KUHF News.
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