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Most Purdue students take four years to graduate, but students in the Brian Lamb School of Communication will now have the option of finishing a year early. / Jordan Kartholl Journal & Courier

Purdue University will offer some of its students a chance to earn a bachelor's degree in three years.

University President Mitch Daniels announced Monday that the school won a $500,000 incentive award for developing a program that will allow communications students to complete the same courses as their peers within 36 months.

"This is another way to make college more affordable," Daniels said. "Purdue needs to think innovatively to help young people get the full value out of their education experience."

The program requires communication students to take a heavier course load for four semesters, and to take courses during two summers.

Students will save $9,290, roughly the cost of one year of in-state tuition, said Marifran Mattson, professor and head of Purdue's Brian Lamb School of Communication.

Mattson says completing the program in three years is realistic, and graduates will receive the same level of education as their four-year peers.

"It does place more responsibility on the student to take that number of credits," Mattson said. "But I don't think it's set so high that it's not achievable. I have no doubts they will meet the challenge."

Three-year students will still have time to take internships or study abroad, experiences that Mattson said are important for a graduate to obtain a job.

Gerry Kauvar, a professor at George Washington University, said allowing students to take full loads of courses during the summer would give students and faculty more flexibility and allow universities to increase enrollment without spending money on construction.

But he said he's "not optimistic" about year-round calendars finding a receptive audience at most institutions. He said there was push-back from faculty at George Washington when former President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg presented a report on the benefits of three-year degrees.

The University of San Francisco, Thomas College in Maine and Thomas More College in Kentucky are among other institutions with specific programs through which students can earn their degree in three years.

Contributing: Rachel Chason, USA TODAY



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Purdue makes 3-year degree an option for some students

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