Alexandra Nicolas

The “four-year degree” time line is feeling a stretch, as more and more students are finding their basic bachelors degree can take anywhere from four to six years to complete.

“The days of the full-time student completing 124 credits in four years are pretty much over,” said Kelly Larson, director of Forensics.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that 6.6 percent of incoming freshman in the fall of 2006 expected to require extra time to complete their degrees, however of the entering class of 2000, 55.9 percent took between four and six years to complete their degrees.

“I’m halfway through and I’m still clueless,” said Cassie Eckron, sophomore undecided major. “I planned for four years, now that that’s out the window I’m kind of screwed.”

Though the average Missouri Southern degree requires 124+ credit hours, scheduled to be completed in four years, 124 hours does not include internships, minors, double majors or most specialized and pre-professional degrees. However, not all students are faced with extra years in the undergraduate classroom. Carolyn White, senior biology major plans to graduate this May after her scheduled four years with “no problem.” White took 20 credit hours a semester for her freshman and sophomore years, what she calls common for pre-professional biology students.

“We are pre-professional and we know that we have an extra four years on top of that,” she said. “Also our medical schools, chiropractic schools and PT schools are going to be very vigorous so we’re trying to prepare for that.”

However Southern offers many degrees, such as music education, that borderline requires a five-year plan. Music education degrees require anywhere from 154 to 172 credit hours.

“With so many added on education courses in addition to the specialty of music . . . the music courses alone are as much as many degrees with out the education part,” said Bud Clark, assistant professor of music and department head of music. “It’s just unbelievable how many hours the students have to take.”

Clark said it is possible to earn the music education degree in four years, but summer classes are a required.

“We’ve tried, in the past, to streamline this and we’ve narrowed it down, but we feel for a well rounded musical education these are requirements,” he said.

Students also face outside interferences in the timing of education, such as family obligation, work and the rising cost of education.

“That is one problem unique to our commuter campus,” Larson said, “as the cost of education goes up, students have to spread it out over a longer time period.”

Despite the growing timetable on the once four-year degree, students now are perusing even more education than in the past. Of the incoming class of 2006, the majority of 42 percent plan to go to receive their masters after the completion of their bachelors, in how ever many years.