Jul 23, 2011

American University’s First 3-Year Undergraduate Degree gets off to a Fast Start

According to the Washington Post, three-year bachelor’s programs are experiencing only “middling success.” Although these ideas come and go, the current economic downturn makes the concept appealing to cost-conscious undergrads attracted to the notion of saving a year’s worth of tuition and entering the job market months before their peers even begin to look.

And with a fistful of Advanced Placement credits in hand, the feasibility of finishing up in three short years isn’t too remote.

With these advantages in mind, American University is joining at least 12 other colleges in launching the Global Scholars three-year BA this fall. It is the first of its kind at American and possibly the only official 3-year BA degree offered in the DC area.

According to Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Phyllis Peres, “AU anticipates the inauguration of this program and trusts that it will serve as a model of excellence in undergraduate education, particularly for the development of other 3-year bachelor programs.”

Initially designed to begin with 25 students, the Global Scholars program had a planned capacity for 50 students but has already accepted 58 deposits according to the Post. It is possibly one of the largest 3-year programs in the nation despite being limited to a single major.

Through a carefully planned sequencing of courses, students admitted to the first class will work toward a degree in international relations in three years with the opportunity to complete a BA/MA program in four. The program is structured so that undergrads will

  • take core requirements as a cohort;

  • have the opportunity to spend the summer abroad between their first and second years;

  • receive priority course registration;

  • receive strong support with career/internship placement; and

  • organize community service and activities outside of the classroom as a group.

The Global Scholars will spend their first year of study living together in a learning community housed within the residence halls. They will be offered special lecture series, community trips, and alumni mentorship programs.

And who are good candidates for the program? “Talented students who value rigor and scholarship and who want to immerse themselves quickly in addressing the world’s most pressing issues,” according to Sharon Alston, AU’s executive director of enrollment management.

Photo courtesy of American University.

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