Kent State to offer more three–year degree programs

Alicia Balog

Kent State students interested in graduating early — and who have previously garnered college credit during high school — now have the option, after the state ruled in favor of requiring more three–year degree programs.

Legislation passed Sept. 2011 required all Ohio public universities to provide such options for 10 percent of total majors earlier this month and 60 percent by 2014. Kent State will offer three-year pathways for 22 of its programs including business management, fashion merchandising and marketing.

Jeff Robinson, deputy director of communications for the Ohio Board of Regents, said the transition provides students a way to save time and money by allowing them the opportunity to graduate and enter the workforce sooner.

“Can you do all that’s required in a three-year time block and really have time to think about [it]?” she said. “Thinking matures as you develop along the lines of various professions. So again, you have to give a lot of thought to this.”

“Basically for those students who are focused on knowing what they want to do, looking at saving some money, looking at getting in the workforce, those are the primary advantages,” Robinson said.

Stephane Booth, associate provost for Quality Initiatives and Curriculum, said assistant and associate deans and faculty collaborated to convert programs into three–year degrees. Many require that students as early as sophomore year begin with at least 30 credit hours from Advanced Placement or Post-Secondary Enrollment Options.

“Without that, there’s no way you’re going to complete those three years,” Booth said.

Susan Hardwick, academic advisor for the Schools of Music and Theatre and Dance, said students should not only start taking credits in high school but also be aware of their potential major’s requirements.

“Some students come in with a statistics class that they’ve taken AP,” she said. “But because statistics is not in the Kent Core, that wouldn’t work in that semester for one of those classes.”

Elizabeth Sinclair-Colando, assistant dean of the College of Business Administration, created the accelerated bachelor’s of business administration five years. This degree outlined that students wouldn’t have to bring in college credit from high school, but rather take at least 18 credit hours a semester to graduate early.

“So the idea was it would be 18, 19, 21 hours a semester unless they tested out of some courses,” she said.

Sophomore Joe Armpriester, enrolled in Sinclair-Colando’s program, entered the university with 32 credits. He said the workload hasn’t proven too difficult, but those without previous credits could be overloading themselves.

Here is a list of all the programs now offering three-year degree options:

Aeronautical studies

Applied engineering – manufacturing systems

Architectural studies

Business management

Communication studies – interpersonal communication

Computer information systems


Electronic media production


Fashion merchandising



Managerial marketing


Physical education – human movement studies

Theatre studies.

“I feel like it’d be better for people who have the credits coming in from high school from AP testing,” Armpriester said.

Sinclair-Colando said she designed the program this way to leave summers free for internships or job and study abroad opportunities.

“I designed it not believing they would come to us, necessarily, with post-secondary,” she said.

Three–year students who enroll with formerly earned college credit will pay tuition without paying the course overload fee.

Booth said although the state has thought about the financial benefits, they may not have thought about what students may miss out on, such as social experience and learning critical skills for work and life.

“Can you do all that’s required in a three-year time block and really have time to think about [it]?” she said. “Thinking matures as you develop along the lines of various professions. So again, you have to give a lot of thought to this.”

Robinson said if the board eventually requires universities to offer three–year programs for all majors, some majors may be affected negatively.

“Medical, pre-med, those things – I think you have to stay on a four–year path,” Robinson said. “So I don’t think you will get to a maximum 100 percent just because of the classes that are involved in some of those majors.”

Booth said it would be difficult to develop three–year programs for all majors because many require certain classes to be taken in a certain order. Other majors have heavier workloads that may be hard to do in three years, she said.

“You’ve got to take this and then you can take that and then you can take the other,” she said. “So planning that out can be much more difficult to get that into that three–year block.”

Lisa Conrad, junior fashion design major, said she’d be interested in getting a three–year degree if fashion design offered it, but she would have to consider the workload.

“At this point, I’ve had to pull three all-nighters in a row just to be able to get my work done even when I’m not procrastinating,” Conrad said. “If the three-year program was upping the workload even more, I’m not quite sure that I’d be able to do it.”

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].