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A COLLEGE DEGREE IN THREE YEARS

By Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and Gerald Kauvar

New York Times

The college experience may be idyllic, but it's also wasteful and expensive, both for students and institutions. There is simply no reason undergraduate degrees can't be finished in three years, and many reasons they should be.

Three-year curriculums, which might involve two full summers of study with short breaks between terms, would increase the number of students who can be accommodated during a four-year period, and reduce institutional costs per student.The change would force curriculum innovation, as departments look for ways to pack the same information into a shorter time period. Multi-disciplinary courses would blossom: French history and literature might be integrated into a single course, bringing together two departments that are usually kept apart.

America's post-secondary educational system is victim to its own success - demand is outstripping capacity, even as costs soar. Cutting the undergraduate experience to three years would allow our colleges to be as efficient as they are effective.

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is the president emeritus and a university professor of public service at George Washington University. Gerald Kauvar is a research professor of public policy and public administration there.

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