Time is money…

What if Bachelor degrees were condensed into two years? Gaining a qualification would be less of a financial burden for students and institutions; those who intended to stop there with HE woud progress more quickly into the workforce; those who wanted to continue with HE could do a three-year masters followed by a four-year PhD…

5 thoughts on “Time is money…

  1. This is an interesting thought. However, at least from a Swiss and German perspective, I have my doubts that such a system would work – unless there are some changes of mind…
    My main reason for being so hesitant is the fact that even now – where the Bachelor degrees should be obtained after three years in the Swiss and German systems – the Bachelor in many cases is not seen as “worth much” in the job market. As far as I know, most students still go on to get their Master degree since most companies don’t really know what to do with Bachelor graduates. I can only imagine that this reaction would be even stronger if the Bachelor took only two years.
    Another (side) reason is something that I have heard a few times recently from university graduates (who had usually finished around 5 years of studying): employers perceive them as too young! This was a great surprise to me, as for a long time we have all been told to be quick in our studies so that we can start working as young as possible as that was supposed to be what employers were looking for. Well, it seems like that was not – at least not always – the best advice. At least some employers rather seem to prefer graduates with some “life experience” (Lebenserfahrung as we would say in German)…

  2. This is an interesting suggestion, and I completely agree with the reservations above surrounding the proposed 2 year Bachelor program. I didn’t even think about the younger age, which may be a concern in some work settings. Because the value of a Bachelor degree in the workforce has decreased in many fields (mine included), I wonder if a 2-year Bachelor degree would degrade that value even further. In most fields in the US, a Masters degree is required or preferred, making a 4+ year Bachelor (in the US) an entry level pursuit (i.e., a pathway to the Masters as the “terminal” professional degree).

    In the US, community colleges and some universities offer 2-year applied degrees (Associates) in some fields (e.g., wildlife technician, dental hygenist). In certain cases, these degrees provide a comparably inexpensive route into an applied or service-oriented field, or as a pathway to transfer into a Bachelor’s program along with earned credits. For many students with financial concerns, this is a viable (and cheaper) option toward a Bachelor’s degree, but may end up taking more than 4 years, depending on discipline and number of transfer credits. So I think the time and money saving goal of a 2-year Bachelor program is admirable, but may not be effective. Associates degrees or apprenticeship programs may offer alternative access to some fields at a reduced cost (both time and money).

  3. We actually have a system like this in the states! It’s called an associate’s degree, and it’s a two year, generally technically oriented, degree awarded by community colleges. (Such as New River Community College).

    A Bachelor’s, for us, is generally thought of as a “program for building better citizens”, rather than just instilling technical knowledge, hence our gen ed programs and the need for at least three, usually four, years. However, there’s a lot of flexibility in the system because someone can get an associate’s degree and then transfer to a traditional university, and essentially count the degree as the first two years of a bachelors.

  4. So, if a 2-year associate degree is going to get a job in an applied or service-oriented field and increasingly companies are looking for a Masters degrees in their employees for other positions, it seems that the bachelor degree leads to nowhere other than as a gateway to further study. Would you say the bachelor degree has lost its purpose? What should the purpose of bachelor degree be? How can the bachelor degree regain its value?

  5. Katelin, I am intrigues by this idea of the bachelors being “program for building better citizens” – would you mind expanding on that? I am having some trouble imagining what this might be…

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