Pathways to a Degree in Three

"Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet and educator

Pathways to a Degree in Three Years

A first-year student who has already earned substantial credit for college-level course work (30 semester hours or more) may be able to complete some degree programs in three years. Students in this group typically have applicable credit for Ohio State course work through one or more of the following sources:

  • Credit by examination resulting from successful scores on Advanced Placement (AP) or College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams;
  • Credit by examination resulting from scores on foreign-language placement exams in French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish;
  • Credit for college or university course work completed in concurrent enrollment during high school, including course work completed through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program (PSEOP), the International Baccalaureate (IB), or other recognized dual-enrollment programs;
  • Credit obtained at community colleges or technical schools, subject to articulation guidelines;
  • Credit obtained through recognized online programs;
  • Conversion of military training and coursework, subject to articulation guidelines.
  • Completing required course work during short sessions or summer programs may also shorten time to degree.

A large number of incoming credits, however, does not in itself guarantee a shorter path to a degree!

The curricular requirements of many programs are linked to the requirements and standards of professional accreditation. How (and whether) a student's credits apply to degree requirements will determine the student's time to degree. Although credits from the sources listed above will transfer to Ohio State, those credits may not help to fulfill the particular requirements for a specific degree. For example, though a student may earn a substantial number of credits in a foreign language by satisfactory completion of the language placement test (and though satisfactory testing and the resulting credits in a foreign language certainly represent an admirable level of academic achievement), those credits will not significantly advance progress toward a degree if 1) the student's program does not require foreign language proficiency and 2) the program does not require elective course work.

And because of sequenced courses (and course prerequisites) and the requirements for disciplinary accreditation, certain programs cannot be completed in three years. For example, programs in the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, and the Department of Design all have requirements that won't allow completion in three years, even with significant incoming credit hours.

Effective long-range academic planning and careful consultation with academic advisors are essential!

A student aiming to complete a three-year degree will need to know early what major/degree he or she wants to complete and must take appropriate course work, even while in high school. Most students on this three-year track will not be able to explore educational alternatives or change their minds about courses, programs, or majors, and will need to take advantage of available curricular efficiencies. A student on a three-year track should also consider the impacts of that goal on co-curricular activities and opportunities for academic enrichment, including study abroad, internships, membership in student clubs or student government, service learning, honors work, participation in research, etc., as well as eligibility for admission to graduate programs.

Sample three years to degree plans:

The following sample curricular programs (PDF format) illustrate how the application of prior credit of the kinds described above can lead to completing a baccalaureate degree in three-years. These are examples of possible programs, based on particular combinations of completed credits, to be used as a guide to the kind of planning required. A student entering with different credits will follow a different curricular path.