CDes to offer year-round degree programs

by Tyler Gieseke

Beginning this fall, University of Minnesota students entering two College of Design degree programs will choose whether to take classes year-round and earn their degrees in three years.

The pilot will allow University administrators to evaluate students’ interest in year-round degree programs before they consider offering more, the Star Tribune said.

The three-year program will be available to graphic design and retail merchandising majors, the Tribune said, and will be required for graphic design students. Participants will take full credit loads during the summers.

During last year’s State of the University address, President Eric Kaler said having a year-round academic calendar was a way to “work smarter” and increase efficiency, according to the Tribune.

College of Design Dean Thomas Fisher also supports a year-round calendar.

“I have long felt that we have, frankly, all this capacity in the summer that’s under-utilized,” Fisher told the Tribune. “We have air-conditioned buildings. We have staff here on 12-month appointments. Yet it’s a ghost town.”

But the burden of heavier and year-round course loads in order to graduate in three years could be overly stressful for students, said the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in a policy brief. Also, financial aid options like the Pell grant for low-income students aren’t available in the summer.

However, three-year degree programs do provide students with a faster track to a profession and less wages foregone while in school, the brief said.