3 and 4 Year Completion Pathways


Have you ever thought about trying to complete your degree in under four years?  Wondering about the advantages and disadvantages?

This page is intended to act as a resource for students considering these questions, and to highlight specific pathways that can result in accelerated degree completion for some of the most popular majors at UCSB.

When is an accelerated degree plan appropriate?

Three-year degree plans are not for everyone; they involve some benefits, but also some sacrifices, especially with respect to extracurricular activities and the scope of study possible within a compressed graduation schedule.  At the same time, graduating early can reduce financial burdens to a degree, and allow students to pursue postgraduate opportunities more quickly.  Consider the following table which outlines some of the advantages and disadvantages that come with pursuing a standard four year plan vs. an accelerated plan:

4 Year Degree Plan 3 Year+ Degree Plan 3 Year Degree Plan
  • Earn a 4-year degree on a standard timeline (12 regular quarters)
  • Standard financial obligations
  • Single or double major and minor options
  • Extensive curricular and co-curricular enrichment activities
  • Requires minimal AP/summer session/community college credit
  • Earn a 4-year degree in fewer than 4 years (10 or 11 regular quarters)
  • Reduced financial obligations
  • Single major, potential for minor
  • Strategically selected curricular and co-curricular enrichment activities, some tailored for non-credit in post-degree completion quarters
  • Requires some AP/summer session/community college credit
  •  Earn a 4-year degree in 3 years (9 regular quarters)
  • Significantly reduced financial obligations
  • Single major unchanged from first year
  • Strategically selected curricular and co-curricular enrichment activities
  • Requires extensive AP/summer session/community college credit

Remember that although students who graduate early usually pay a smaller price tag for their degree, there are variety of other factors in play that affect the long-term financial impact of graduating under a traditional schedule as opposed to an accelerated schedule. For example, tuition and living expenses incurred during summer sessions, reduced time to prepare for career goals and to explore research or extracurricular activities, reduced time to participate in internships while at school, etc.

In considering the above factors, remember to consult Career Services to think about your long term career goals, and how to manage your time at UCSB to best position yourself to reach those goals. You can also review information from Financial Aid and Summer Sessions to learn about the cost of attendance at UCSB, as well as financial aid options available during the academic year and during summer sessions. 

Example 3 and 4 Year Pathways

To provide an idea of what it really looks like to pursue an early graduation schedule, our office has worked with departments to create a set of example plans for several of UCSB's popular majors.  These pathways are intended only as examples to be used for comparative purposes, not prescriptions to be followed closely. Wherever possible the plans include generalities and not specific courses, since course offering schedules shift every year depending on individual department resources and faculty availability.

The pathways also assume students enter into UCSB as first years with no prior applicable credit. Individual student schedules will vary significantly based on prior credit received, individual academic plans and schedules, and other factors.

As a result, it is highly recommended that students considering an accelerated pathway work closely with both college and department advisors in evaluating the feasibility of such a plan for their specific circumstances, potential course schedules, and other considerations.

Anthropology, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

Communications, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

Economics, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

English, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

Film and Media Studies, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

Global Studies, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

History, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

Political Science, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

Psychology, B.A. (2015-16)

Note: the Psychology BA has been discontinued as of 2016-17.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway

Sociology, B.A.

4-Year Pathway 3-Year Pathway