Wesleyan University has announced a program that will enable students to graduate with a bachelor's degree in three years, joining a growing number of colleges offering the shorter path as a way to save students money.
About 20 colleges have started three-year programs since the economic downturn, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Wesleyan is among the most prominent.
"This is a significant announcement because Wesleyan is a nationally highly respected university," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education. "It will certainly encourage many other colleges and universities to look at it."
But Hartle said student and family interest ultimately will determine the extent of such programs, and so far there has not been a surge in demand. Many students are taking more than four years to finish a degree, experts said.
Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth wrote in a Washington Post blog on Wednesday that the private liberal arts school will help students navigate the three-year route, which is a path he took when he graduated from the school in 1978. He acknowledged the three-year route was not for all students.