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ERIC Number: ED536838
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Feb
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Three Policies to Reduce Time to Degree
Johnson, Nate
Complete College America
The old saying that time is money is nowhere more true than in U.S. higher education. Time is measured two ways in academia--by the calendar and by the credit hour. Both can be costly, whether in the form of tuition, taxpayer subsidies, or the wages students lose with each additional term enrolled. For many years, in credit terms, the standard for a bachelor's degree was 120 hours; for an associate degree it was 60. On the calendar, that's four years of full-time attendance (30 credit hours per year) for a bachelor's, and two years for an associate degree. Yet in the past generation, credits and time have started creeping up. High school graduates in 1972 could expect to complete a degree with an average of about 130 credits and in 4.3 years. What leads to extended time? Despite frequent finger-pointing, there is no simple answer. Part of it has to do with students--both the things they can't control and the things they can. They come to college ill-prepared or ill-informed and fail or repeat many courses. They work part- or full-time jobs, often out of necessity. Finally, state systems and legislatures also share the blame. Sometimes they don't fund institutions or provide student aid in the summer. This brief focuses on just three policies that are most directly related to time and have the clearest role for state and institutional leaders: controlling credit creep, creating clear academic maps, and establishing a statewide transferable general education core. These are strategies that state leaders can and should implement now, if they have not already done so.
Complete College America. 1250 H Street NW Suite 850, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-349-4148; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Complete College America
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; California; Florida; Illinois; North Carolina; Texas; Wisconsin