Three-year bachelor's degree programs are gaining popularity as many students look for ways to enter the workforce faster. Though these programs are common in Europe and Canada, condensed programs are now attracting greater interest in the United States.
Students might identify three-year options as a swifter path to earning a bachelor's degree, particularly as the value of a college education rises in the current marketplace. The median family income for those with a bachelor's degree or higher was $99,716, compared with $48,332 for those with only a high school diploma, according to "Trends in College Pricing 2011," a report detailing findings from the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges.
Some leaders in higher education are exploring three-year degree programs as a solution to growing workforce issues. Many professional fields are growing faster than students can acquire the necessary education to fill the positions, and three-year degree programs reduce the time it takes for candidates to graduate and enter the job market.
The healthcare industry, for example, is grappling with a nationwide shortage of workers in several disciplines, such as healthcare information technicians and clinical laboratory technicians, which U.S. News and World Report listed among its "25 Best Jobs in 2012." Three-year bachelor's degree programs are available for prospective students looking to enter both fields.
One of the most widely acknowledged healthcare worker shortages is registered nurses (RNs). More than half of the RN workforce is close to retirement, according to the American Nurses Association.
This issue is to become more acute as the industry responds to the patient needs of a growing population of aging baby boomers.