Purdue University announced Tuesday that liberal arts students will now be able to complete bachelor’s degrees in three years instead of four with the launch of a new program.
About 85 percent of liberal arts students will be able to pursue the three-year option, called "Degree 3" starting this fall, the school said.
Purdue said the estimated cost savings of Degree 3 over a traditional four-year degree will be $9,021 for an Indiana resident, $18,422 for a non-resident and $19,422 for an international student.
The three-year plans will be offered for 10 academic schools and departments. Only one degree category—bachelor of fine arts—will not have the three-year option due to additional credit requirements.
“The notion that it requires four years to complete an undergraduate degree is really little more than a matter of tradition, a uniquely American tradition,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in written remarks. “That this college is moving ahead to offer students the opportunity to accelerate their education and do it in an economical way is a great testament to the efforts of the entire CLA faculty and its leaders. All of this, it’s important to note, is without reducing the requirements or the quality of the degree.”
The number of liberal arts students on Purdue's campus is relatively small compared to the overall undergraduate student body. Last semester, Purdue had about 2,300 students pursuing liberal arts undergraduate degrees out of its total of nearly 28,500 undergraduate students.
The program areas that are available for the three-year program include anthropology, communications, English, history, interdisciplinary studies, languages and cultures, philosophy, political science, sociology, and visual and performing arts.
The program will require students to complete summer courses during two summers, meaning they would need to be in school year-round. Students will not need advanced placement or dual-credit courses to complete the program. And Purdue will allow “flexibility of student aid and scholarships” for three-year students.
College of Liberal Arts Dean David Reingold said the program wouldn't be easy.
“This is not for the faint of heart,” Reingold said in written comments. "It will be challenging. To assist these students, we will offer an exclusive learning community and targeted academic advising support. But for the students who are up for the challenge, it is an opportunity to accelerate their future and enter the workforce or graduate school faster. It will reflect a particular focus and work ethic that will set these students apart.”