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Advice Needed: 3-year or 4-year bachelor degree. Which to choose?

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  • Dec 26th, 2011 8:45 pm
[OP]
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Jun 11, 2010
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Advice Needed: 3-year or 4-year bachelor degree. Which to choose?

I'm currently in my 2nd year of a chem degree, and I'm debating whether to continue in my module for the honours degree, or graduate in 3 years with a double-minor (bio/chem) degree instead. I don't want to do graduate work (M.Sc.) but I would possibly like to apply for medical school, teacher's college or possibly law school in the future. I would also like to maybe teach english abroad for a year, and haven even entertained the notion of joining the armed forces as an officer. As you can see, I'm trying to keep my options open right now.

Is there any advantage for me to take a 4th year? If I do, I will have to take a bunch of mandatory credits that I will hate, but if I graduate in 3 years, the degree structure is much more flexible, allowing me to graduate with a much better GPA.

Advice needed.
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[OP]
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Jun 11, 2010
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Also, if I'm applying for science jobs like a lab technician, or field technician, will having only 3 years hurt me? For example, would it put me on par with students who perhaps only had a college diploma?
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Dec 7, 2009
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I think the problem is that most people are ignorant to the fact that there even exists 3 year degrees at the university level. Most people don't read their course calendars and just take for granted that the only degree available is an honours 4yr degree.

In fact, if you take a single Major, or two Minors you can graduate with 15.0 credits. So your question is a very good one, and I think for your purposes, there is no benefit to taking the 4th year, but you have to understand that everyone is brainwashed into thinking that university is 4 years, so you won't find much insight from people who probably went through their entire undergrad without even realizing they could have skipped a lot of the crappier courses and graduated in 3 years with a much higher GPA for entering professional programs.
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Jan 29, 2009
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Keep in mind that some professional programs will not accept 3 years degrees and also a lot of jobs will take someone with a specialization instead of a "general" science degree.

Just my experience.
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It was my understanding that the most stringent professional programs require a degree (medical school) while most others (education, nursing, law, etc) only require between 1-2 years of university credits prior to admission.

I should think that a 3 year degree would meet the standards of all professional degrees. Neonlily, could I bother you to find me an example of a professional program that requires an honours degree as their minimum admission cutoff?
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Dec 19, 2010
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The 3 year degree program was phased out in 2002 at UofT. I suspect it was due to financial reasons since it brings more dough to the school and in return, you get an "Honours" attached to your degree. If I had the option to take a 3 year degree, I would have taken it in a heart beat. Why spend more money and time getting the same qualification.
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Feb 16, 2010
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My 2 cents

Keep in mind this is coming from a business student...

I highly recommend 4 year; even 5

That extra time allows me to space out my courses for maximum GPA potential and WORK EXPERIENCE

I rather take extra time to graduate and stack up my undergrad work experience than graduating quickly with mimimal work experience (I know way too many horror stories of business grads doing this and ending up in a bad, unemployed, situation)

I am also considering taking year or 2 longer to graduate to fit in more undergrad job/hiring opportunities
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HTTP04 wrote: My 2 cents

Keep in mind this is coming from a business student...

I highly recommend 4 year; even 5

That extra time allows me to space out my courses for maximum GPA potential and WORK EXPERIENCE

I rather take extra time to graduate and stack up my undergrad work experience than graduating quickly with mimimal work experience (I know way too many horror stories of business grads doing this and ending up in a bad, unemployed, situation)

I am also considering taking year or 2 longer to graduate to fit in more undergrad job/hiring opportunities

Ahh. Where were you when those fools were talking about graduating "on time" and kept saying that how taking more than 4 years of university will make you "late" for the work force. We could have used another rational voice in that thread.
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Nov 10, 2008
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All graduate programs (in university) require a 4 year degree. You never know, you might decide to apply for post-bachelors professional programs.
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Aug 30, 2011
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Go for the 4 year degree, I say! When applying for professional grad school programs like PT, or professional 'undergrad' programs like law and medicine, those with four year honours degrees definitely have a leg up on those with general three year degrees.
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Take 4 years and finish it in 5 like me. :)

You mentioned some very different paths; med school, law school...yea, take the extra year and gain some direction. Taking an extra year was the BEST thing I ever did.
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YoungDr3amer wrote: All graduate programs (in university) require a 4 year degree. You never know, you might decide to apply for post-bachelors professional programs.

No.. they most certainly do not. Most Master's programs do, but professional programs do not. The OP specifically said he doesn't want to pursue a Master's.
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I stand corrected.
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Dec 24, 2007
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For medical schools you'll certainly need at least 3 years of university study if you wish to stay in Ontario. Some schools specifically require a 4-year degree as a minimum requirement (e.g. UWO: http://www.westerncalendar.uwo.ca/2011/pg534.html)

For other professions such as physiotherapy, some schools require you to do an additional year if you elected to graduate with a 3-year degree, essentially requiring you to do 4 years in total (this requirement is not enforced on those with 4-year degrees as they, well, already have 4 years under their belts). Example: McMaster's PT program http://www.srs-mcmaster.ca/Admissionsnb ... fault.aspx

Doing a 3-year degree certainly will not end your dreams of graduate or professional school, but do keep in mind that your options are more limited than those with 4 years. With such intense competition already for these coveted spots, you must consider your reasons for decreasing the competitiveness of your admissions profile. So, please, I urge you to do a bit more research into the programs before making your decision.

As for Syne, I would encourage you to please do a little bit more research before dispensing advice to unsuspecting seekers. It's one thing to give advice with good intentions, it's another to randomly dole out whatever you think is true and ask others to prove otherwise.
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Syne wrote: It was my understanding that the most stringent professional programs require a degree (medical school) while most others (education, nursing, law, etc) only require between 1-2 years of university credits prior to admission.

I should think that a 3 year degree would meet the standards of all professional degrees. Neonlily, could I bother you to find me an example of a professional program that requires an honours degree as their minimum admission cutoff?

Hm, well I'm from Manitoba. The Physician's Assistant Program requires a 4 year degree there as well as the Education program. So perhaps things are different there but that is why I took a 4 year. Also, 4 year programs are not regarded as honours at U of M. I have a 4 year B.Sc in Microbiology and it is not an honours.
Newbie
Nov 27, 2011
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KITCHENER
For someone who will not go for masters, it is worth looking for a job with 3 yrs degree. Having a good job, the rest of the credits for 4yr degree could be finished at a later time, may be even part-time. If no suitable job is available, just contuinue with the 4th yr - Happy Studying :)
Newbie
Aug 13, 2008
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Take 4 years and enjoy your student life....

Plus

4 years will add more value over 3 years, which will come handy when applying for professional programs. .
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Dec 24, 2007
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DrXenon wrote: The European standard for undergraduate degrees is 3 years; there is no reason for it to be 4 in North America, except for the money it brings in to the universities. There is significant governmental pressure on the universities here to adopt a 3 year degree; the economic cost of keeping young people out of the workforce for an extra (useless) year is quite significant.

If you can get a good job with a 3-year degree, you should do that, because a year after you graduate nobody is going to care whether you have a 3- or 4-year degree.

But isn't that because they have Year 13/Upper Sixth = our old OAC? If so, the graduating class would still be around 22 years of age.

In HK (which was modelled after the UK), they've recently reformed the education to get rid of Year 13 and increase the number of undergraduate years from 3 to 4. Thereby shifting that "transitional" year from secondary school to university. I feel that is essentially what we did here in Ontario with the elimination of OAC and the elimination of the 3-year option at some universities (e.g UofT as mentioned in this thread).
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DrXenon wrote: The European standard for undergraduate degrees is 3 years; there is no reason for it to be 4 in North America, except for the money it brings in to the universities. There is significant governmental pressure on the universities here to adopt a 3 year degree; the economic cost of keeping young people out of the workforce for an extra (useless) year is quite significant.
I think the 'work force' will survive with one less round of educated and unemployable graduates.
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Member
May 3, 2008
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Greater Toronto Area
As others have suggested, a four year degree leaves all of your options intact in case you have a change of heart down the road. This reason alone is fairly compelling. What you also get with the four year degree is the ability to really sink your teeth into your subject of choice (e.g. you write a thesis, take upper-level honours courses not available to a person with a 3 year degree, etc). And I think that’s the best part about university (being able to dive head first into a particular area of study), no matter what subject you select!

Anyhow, my vote is for four years.

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