Europe Moving Towards 3-Year B.A.’s

So they’re making the shift towards 3-year Bachelors’ in Europe:

In the early 1990s, the then-presidents of Oberlin College and Stanford University floated the idea that the standard time for an undergraduate degree might be better at three years instead of four. The idea went nowhere — at least in the United States.

But 45 European nations have pledged to make three years the standard time for their undergraduate degrees by 2010. Under “the Bologna Process,” named for the Italian city where the agreement for “harmonizing” European higher education was signed in 1999, degrees are supposed to be sufficiently similar that they will be recognized from one country to the next, encouraging student mobility.

But why can’t we do this in America?

Christian Bode, secretary general of the German Academic Exchange Service, told the group that there was far too much diversity in the quality of American higher education to make any blanket comparisons between American and European degrees. In the United States, he said, “a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily a bachelor’s degree.”

In an interview after his talk, Bode said European higher education is more homogeneous such that the rigor for a bachelor’s degree from a “top” university isn’t that different from one at a less prestigious institution. Given the quality gaps in the United States, “you have a problem in your own house,” he said, before Americans can denigrate European degrees.

Sort of interesting to think about that at American “top” universities, one could save themselves up to or more than $40,000 by knocking off a year of college. Given the debt problems of our generation in financing college in light of a government seeking to cut federal aid one might think this policy isn’t half-bad.

At the very least, it’s something to think about.

6 thoughts on “Europe Moving Towards 3-Year B.A.’s

  1. Mad Joy

    I disagree strongly that this policy isn’t half-bad.The reason that European schools are able to have three-year bachelor’s degrees programs (which ALREADY is the standard in most European countries) is because they don’t have many electives. Students already begin to specialize before they get to university, and for the most part, have taken some more advanced and specialized courses by the time they graduate their high school equivalent.When they get to college, most of their programme is set. You need to know what your major is when entering university – and then you have little flexibility in deciding what specific classes to take, and have little wiggle room to take classes outside your major.I am a firm believer in the idea of a liberal arts education. An education (even its primary focus is in the sciences!) is not just the classes you take within that major – the learning experience is drawn from everything you do at the university, including classes outside your major.You need to have room at the beginning of your college experience to explore different areas. You need to have room in your schedule to continue exploration and learning outside of your major for the remainder of your university career.Compressing what is a four-year program into a three-year program would make it nearly impossible to incorporate all the experiences you currently are able to have in the pursuit of your bachelor degree. It would make it nearly impossible to incorporate studying abroad into those three years.Completing a B.A. early is already possible at most schools in the US, due to AP credits and overloading on classes, but strongly discouraged – for good reason.

  2. Mad Joy

    I disagree strongly that this policy isn’t half-bad.The reason that European schools are able to have three-year bachelor’s degrees programs (which ALREADY is the standard in most European countries) is because they don’t have many electives. Students already begin to specialize before they get to university, and for the most part, have taken some more advanced and specialized courses by the time they graduate their high school equivalent.When they get to college, most of their programme is set. You need to know what your major is when entering university – and then you have little flexibility in deciding what specific classes to take, and have little wiggle room to take classes outside your major.I am a firm believer in the idea of a liberal arts education. An education (even its primary focus is in the sciences!) is not just the classes you take within that major – the learning experience is drawn from everything you do at the university, including classes outside your major.You need to have room at the beginning of your college experience to explore different areas. You need to have room in your schedule to continue exploration and learning outside of your major for the remainder of your university career.Compressing what is a four-year program into a three-year program would make it nearly impossible to incorporate all the experiences you currently are able to have in the pursuit of your bachelor degree. It would make it nearly impossible to incorporate studying abroad into those three years.Completing a B.A. early is already possible at most schools in the US, due to AP credits and overloading on classes, but strongly discouraged – for good reason.

  3. Mad Joy

    I disagree strongly that this policy isn’t half-bad.

    The reason that European schools are able to have three-year bachelor’s degrees programs (which ALREADY is the standard in most European countries) is because they don’t have many electives. Students already begin to specialize before they get to university, and for the most part, have taken some more advanced and specialized courses by the time they graduate their high school equivalent.

    When they get to college, most of their programme is set. You need to know what your major is when entering university – and then you have little flexibility in deciding what specific classes to take, and have little wiggle room to take classes outside your major.

    I am a firm believer in the idea of a liberal arts education. An education (even its primary focus is in the sciences!) is not just the classes you take within that major – the learning experience is drawn from everything you do at the university, including classes outside your major.

    You need to have room at the beginning of your college experience to explore different areas. You need to have room in your schedule to continue exploration and learning outside of your major for the remainder of your university career.

    Compressing what is a four-year program into a three-year program would make it nearly impossible to incorporate all the experiences you currently are able to have in the pursuit of your bachelor degree. It would make it nearly impossible to incorporate studying abroad into those three years.

    Completing a B.A. early is already possible at most schools in the US, due to AP credits and overloading on classes, but strongly discouraged – for good reason.

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