In its ongoing efforts to make education more accessible across the world, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new innovation soon to be available through BYU–Idaho and Ensign College — online bachelor’s degrees that can be completed in just three years.
Beginning in April 2024, students of BYU-Idaho and Ensign College — facilitated through BYU–Pathway Worldwide — may take advantage of a 90- to 96-credit degree. A typical bachelor’s degree requires around 120 credit hours of coursework.
The new degrees, which have been approved by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, keep all the required major and general education credits while eliminating elective credits, explained a Friday, Sept. 1, news release on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder Clark G. Gilbert, the Church commissioner of education, described this new innovative option as “optimized,” or the most effective use of resources.
“Providing access to affordable education everywhere the Church is organized is critical to what we do,” he said in the news release. The three-year degree structure “will make completing a degree a possibility for many more people, particularly those who have not felt higher education was a viable option for them.”
Fewer credits means less time and less money spent for students seeking a degree.
BYU–Pathway Worldwide provides the resources and support to students as they complete online degrees and certificates delivered by BYU–Idaho and Ensign College. BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Brian K. Aston explained that the average student seeking on online degree through BYU–Idaho and Ensign College are 33 years old, taking two classes at a time, working full time and supporting a family.
These online students “typically are first-generation college students who work full time and often struggle to make ends meet,” said President Ashton. “They need options that help them earn a degree as efficiently as possible. The new degree structure increases the likelihood of graduation while preserving all learning outcomes to prepare them for jobs and careers.”
Degrees will be offered in the fields of business, technology, communication, health, family services and professional studies.
BYU–Idaho and Ensign College are among the first institutions to receive accreditation for this new degree structure. Other innovators in higher education have also been exploring degree options that are based more on learning outcomes than the actual time in the classroom.
BYU–Idaho recently participated in the “College-in-3” consortium of schools that includes the University of Minnesota Rochester and the University of Pennsylvania to explore a variety of ways to rethink traditional approaches to higher education.
BYU–Pathway’s website explains that new students enrolling in fall semester 2023 or after will be in a three-year bachelor’s degree when they continue to their degree program with BYU–Idaho or Ensign College.
Depending on where they are in their program, current or returning students can switch to the new three-year degree structure starting spring semester in April 2024.