It is possible to graduate from Wheaton in three or three-and-one-half years. Our curriculum allows motivated students to complete their undergraduate degree in six or seven semesters. You do not need to complete an application to take advantage of this option, but it does require special planning. And, as you near your final year at Wheaton, you will need the approval of the Committee on Academic Standing to graduate early.
There are both benefits and challenges to weigh when you consider whether to finish your degree in less than four years. On the plus side, families appreciate the opportunity to save money, since the student will not be paying for one or two final semesters. It also allows the student to start a job or begin graduate school earlier. On the negative side, students lose a semester or year of experience at Wheaton, which may be coming at a time when they best know how to use the campus. Some experts also suggest that an additional year of maturity benefits students as they approach the next step. Finally, finishing earlier than four years may put pressure on decisions about internships or study abroad.
Finishing your undergraduate career in less than four years requires planning and discipline, as well as close work with your advisor. The three-year option allows less flexibility and calls for a more demanding academic pace. You should be sure that your academic record supports your being able to manage this pace. In general, students who graduate in six or seven semesters must decide on their major early to ensure sufficient time to complete required courses.
The college allows students to earn as many as 5.5 credits per semester without additional charge. At that pace, you can earn the 32 credits needed for graduation in three years’ time. Other options for earning additional credits in an accelerated timeframe include Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, college courses taken during high school, and transfer credit for courses taken at another college or university during the summer. However, not all such credits are guaranteed to transfer, so you will want to consult with Dean Emerson, Associate Dean of Studies and Dean of the First-Year Class as well as with the Registrar, as soon as possible. Dean Emerson can explain how you might pursue this option as well as how to plan your time at Wheaton.