Three-Year Degree Programs

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Are You Eligible for a Three-Year Degree program?Degrees

Amanda Ekstein '14“The idea of doing academic work over the summer really appealed to me—I like moving faster. Plus, completing my degree in three years allows me to save on my tuition costs. After completing the three-year degree program, I want to go to graduate school or take a gap year. Either way I’ll have an edge over my peers and will have something distinctive about me.”
—Amanda Ekstein ’14, Andover, NJ. International Business and Culture Major, 3-Year Degree Program; First-Year Study Abroad Experience London

For more information on Arcadia’s three-year programs, contact Arcadia’s Office of Enrollment Management at 1-877-ARCADIA (1-877-272-2342) or e-mail

About the Three-Year Degree Programs

  • Three years, two optional summers
  • Study abroad
  • Get there faster—grad school, job market
  • One optional summer of service learning abroad or away
  • One optional summer internship abroad or away
  • All of Arcadia’s distinctive global perspective
  • Faster path to grad school at reduced college costs

The three-year degree format provides an accelerated degree program path for students who are able and willing to complete their degree programs within a shorter time. The three-year degree format lightens the financial burden on students and parents who are seeking ways to reduce college costs.

Students in this program will have high academic ability and will engage with faculty members and/or administrators in special activities and events. Students are from four different areas: Psychology, International Studies, Business, and Communications. As such, the activities and events planned are integrative in nature, cutting across areas of study. And, finally, students are encouraged to study away at least twice during their three years at Arcadia, most likely during the summers. In these ways, this program reflects the three facets of the Arcadia Promise: Students receive personalized attention, are presented with integrative learning experiences, and participate in cross-cultural learning experiences with global perspective.

What’s different about the three-year degree program?

Two summers of study abroad and service: The two optional summer experiences are distinctively Arcadia. A service project away the first year and a major-related internship away the second summer take advantage of Arcadia’s status as a leader in study abroad and international education.

GPA Requirements: Once enrolled in the program, a student needs to maintain a minimum GPA of a 3.00 overall to remain in good standing within the program and be allowed to take a course overload without petitioning for an exception to academic policy.

Saving Time: Students earning a three-year degree can enter the job market or attend graduate school a year earlier.

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Honors

Each student will meet with an adviser after enrolling to design his or her individual academic plan. The adviser will review how Advanced Placement credits, International Baccalaureate credits, and/or other college-level credits may apply to the program requirements.

Advanced Placement Credit

Students who have earned scores of 3 or higher on Advanced Placement examinations of the College Board will be awarded credit toward the bachelor’s degree for courses comparable to those offered at Arcadia University. Students also can earn advanced credit through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or Excelsior College Examinations (formerly known as ACT PEP and Regents Examinations).

International Baccalaureate

Arcadia University reviews and evaluates International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level courses on an individual basis. Normally, University course credit is granted for scores of 5 or higher in courses that are applicable to the degree program. Full IB diploma holders also are evaluated on an individual basis. No credit is given for subsidiary-level courses.

Honors Program

Incoming freshmen are evaluated for possible acceptance into the Honors Program based upon the strength of their admissions applications. The criteria for the Honors Program and the three-year degree programs are the same.

Katelin McNally ’14“I had already fallen in love with Arcadia before I decided to do the three-year degree program. The opportunity to spend my first semester in Stirling, Scotland, through the First-Year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE) really appealed to me, and I was excited to study in a different culture.
“When I learned about Arcadia’s three-year degree program, I knew it was the perfect fit for me, but I wasn’t sure if I’d still be able to do FYSAE. When I discovered that I could do both I was ecstatic. Not only do I get to study abroad, but I’ll also be able to start my master’s degree earlier. The summer internship component also will allow me to spend more time overseas, and I plan to intern in South Africa or Italy.”
—Katelin McNally ’14, Conshohocken, PA. Psychology Major, 3-Year Degree Program; First-Year Study Abroad Experience Stirling 

Summer Experiences

Students may do two summer experiences as part of the program. Each is 8 credits and counts toward the credits required for graduation.

Summer One:

During the first summer, students can participate in a service-learning project in a community different from the one in which they were reared. There is a is a vast range of possibilities including: working with an NGO (non-governmental organization) in another country that is providing medical or educational services, volunteering at a clinic or school enrichment program in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia, or working with an environmental group on issues of pollution and sustainability. In their reflections on their experiences, students focus on issues related to their majors. For example, a Communications major volunteering in a school enrichment program in North Philadelphia would address issues relevant to the field of communications such as how could the program management let the public at large know about the good work they are doing.

Summer Two:

In the second summer, students can participate in an internship experience away from the Arcadia campus. Like the first summer experience, there is a reflection component in which students are asked to examine how the work they are doing in this experience is related to their major. Possible sites include a Psychology research laboratory for a Psychology major, working with an NGO (non-governmental organization) in another country for international studies major, or working with a media organization in the Philadelphia.

These experiences will be set up individually by each student working with his or her departmental and three-year program advisers. They will consult with staff from The College of Global Studies and with the Director of Global Connections in order to take advantage of the numerous settings and programs already in place, both within the United States and abroad.

Given the broad range of interests and majors of the students involved, it is likely that most students will be in a unique setting. However, this does not preclude two or more students from being at the same site.

In order to continue working as a group, students and the director of the three-year degree program will communicate through a social networking website such as Ning during the summer months. This will allow all involved to know what others are doing, as well as providing an opportunity for the students to reflect on what they are experiencing and to tie it back to their studies at Arcadia.

Co-Curricular Activities

Given the intensity of the three-year program and the range of majors and interests of the students, a set of co-curricular activities is planned each year to both help build a community of scholars among the students and to provide some opportunities for entertainment and amusement. Topics are chosen as themes for an academic year that can be addressed from the perspective of each of the majors involved. For example, the theme for one year might be the role of sports in society. This topic has relevance for Psychology, Business Administration, Communications, and International Studies. Activities would include going to a Phillies baseball game, watching films that focus on these issues and inviting someone from the vast professional and university sports communities in Philadelphia to address the group. Students, faculty, and administrators join together to plan the activities for each year.

Admission to Three-Year Degree Programs

Due to the pressure and intensity of fitting all requirements into three years, this program is intended for students with high academic ability. Admissions criteria are the same as for the Honors Program. Entering freshmen who score 1870 or better on the SAT or 28 or better on the ACT and are ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class (if their school ranks students) will be considered for admission into these programs. 

Course Requirements

Except for the two optional summer experiences listed above, the course requirements for each of the majors are the same as for the four-year program in that major. For specific course requirements, see the individual program description.


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