The University of South Carolina is offering students majoring in some subjects the chance to shave a year off the typical four-year schedule that it takes to earn a degree, president Harris Pastides said Thursday.
Students can take home a bachelor’s degrees in 45 majors in three years, instead of four, and get both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 22 majors in five years, rather than six. Some qualified students also can trim a year off the time it takes to earn a medical degree.
The moves are part of USC’s ongoing initiative to allow students to graduate on their own schedules.
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“(W)hat would you do with an extra, unobligated year of your life?” Pastides asked during his annual State of the University speech on the Horseshoe. “Now, imagine that it’s an extra year of your youth. I think you get the picture.”
USC expanded its summer semester last year, adding more courses to accommodate students who want to speed through school. The Legislature also agreed this year to let students use scholarship money from the state lottery to help pay for summer classes.
The university also added lab times in January and May to help students complete science-related courses.
The accelerated three-year majors include economics, mechanical engineering, public health, chemistry and management.
“Life is not made up of semesters,” Pastides said. “Jobs aren’t. The military isn’t. Marriage isn’t. Nothing else in life is.”
The moves also could bolster USC’s bottom line.
For example, USC gets more use out of its academic buildings and dorms as additional students take summer classes. Those added summer students also generate more money for the school. And raising more revenue has been a priority for USC, which is looking to make up for shrinking state contributions to higher education in the wake of the Great Recession.
Another new revenue source this year comes from non-credit online courses that USC is offering to students overseas, Pastides said in his address.
USC has launched classes in South America on international business, business, engineering, public health and education. The school also plans to expand its courses into Asia and Africa.
The school is collaborating with the private Academic Partnerships on the courses. USC offers instruction, while the Dallas-based company handles translation, marketing and registration.
After a spate of crimes since students returned to campus in August, Pastides also offered assurances during his speech that campus safety is “among my highest priorities.”
He said the school is hiring more police officers, adding cameras and call boxes, and developing a smartphone application that will allow people to contact university police “at the touch of a finger.”
“You have my word that we will remain concerned and vigilant about any incident on or near campus,” he said.