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President Mason announces three-year degree

BY ALYSSA GUZMAN | FEBRUARY 20, 2015 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa President Sally Mason said four-year graduation rates are something to be happy about.

“It means our students are doing quite well in terms of coming in and completing in a timely fashion,” she said.

While she is pleased with the track UI students are on, she has decided to bring something new to the table: the Iowa Degree in Three.

Though these three-year degrees have been discussed in the past, Mason said on Thursday during a media availability they will be available this fall in six majors: English, history, international studies, theater, communication studies, and marketing.

Karmen Berger, an academic adviser for the International Studies Program, said graduating in three years with an international-studies degree is a “very feasible plan.”

Individual students will make their decisions about the new major, but those who choose to take the three-year route will have to sit down with their academic advisers to map out their paths.

While it could be possible for sophomores to begin this track, it is primarily meant for the incoming freshman class.

“We will be welcoming the largest, the most diverse, and the most talented freshman class we have ever seen,” Mason said. “This is for motivated students who have a very good idea of what they would like to accomplish in life and would like to complete their degree as quickly as possible.”

English Professor Florence Boos said she doesn’t believe the contentions that a student can do in three years what they are supposed to do in four. 

“It’s shortsighted to claim that you can do in three years what you can do in four, because you can’t,” she said. “One can be certified, yes, but the purpose of attending university is to learn. All these attempts to save money force students to study around the clock, removing the chance for other experiences.”

Jordyn Glotzer, an incoming freshman at the UI from Skokie, Illinois, is planning on majoring in pharmacy, a major that is not available for the Iowa degree in three program.

“I could understand the reason for them not offering the three-year program to math and science majors, because those usually take longer,” Glotzer said. “I definitely don’t want to graduate in three years. I want to take my time and be able to enjoy all four years.”

UI freshman Marisa Freedman, an English major, said she believes this program is a great idea financially and is interested in the program.

“It would save my parents a whole year’s worth of out-of-state tuition, which would be major, plus I would walk away with the exact same degree,” she said.

Clifford Adelman, a senior associate with the Institute for Higher Education Policy, said three-year degrees are a norm in the UK, and they long have been. In some European countries, it’s typical for students to earn master’s degrees in five years.

“The point that I would add is that most of the students who get a three-year bachelor’s degree [in the UK] also get a two-year master’s degree,” he said. “If [the UI] encourages [students] to get their master’s degree and help them do that, I think it’s even better.”

Mason said the UI is “doing what we need to do to be able to grow.”


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