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Eight week semesters highlight new ACC program

Earlier this week, Austin Community College announced that it will offer an associate degree in business administration that students can complete entirely through eight week semesters. Additionally, students can complete a two-year program in a little over one year, using the shortened format.

Students will take fewer courses per eight-week term, but can complete a 60-credit program in slightly more than a year, provided they take classes during the summer semester. The eight-week courses feature longer class periods, but allow students to study the material in greater depth. That enables a student to complete a two-course series in just 16 weeks.

ACC has been experimenting with eight week semesters, but the business administration program is among the first to offer students the option of completing a degree program by enrolling in entirely eight-week terms.

According to ACC, students tend to stay more engaged in both the course and the program when they take courses in the shorter term format. ACC’s enrollment data suggests that students complete more credits when they enroll in classes offered eight week semesters.

ACC plans to convert its Northridge Campus to a predominantly eight-week format for all programs taught there. In addition, ACC will provide free tutoring, coaching, advising and other services designed to help students complete a degree. Students can also receive financial aid benefits as long as they enroll in at least 12 credits per semester.

Institutions commonly offer shortened courses during the summer semester, but it is less common for students to be able to complete an entire degree program using eight week semesters.

Eight week semesters can accelerate graduation

Eight week semesters are especially appealing to people who want to (or need to) complete degree programs quickly, or who want to transfer to a four-year university. Shortened semesters also help students avoid terminating a semester early. Disenrolling or dropping classes can require students to return federal financial aid.

Eight week semesters can also accelerate a person’s return to the workforce, which may be of high value to women who may have left to raise children, or who are recovering from a divorce.

Given the result of the accelerated schedule is a degree, which students can earn in slightly more time than it takes to earn a lower value certificate, this could be a constructive way to minimize the time students spend in the classroom while avoiding the creation of more students who have “some college, no degree.”

Who knows? It might even increase the graduation rate.

Photo Credit: scouse smurf , via Flickr