A $10,000 bachelor’s degree is a realistic goal, writes Publius Audax, a humanities professor at a Texas university, on Pajamas Media. Gov. Rick Perry wants state universities to offer a low-cost path to a degree. Texas should pick 25 of the most important and popular majors and design three-year bachelor’s programs, Audax proposes. Then the curriculum could be streamlined by “eliminating all electives and standardizing all required courses.” The state would need 412 courses to meet requirements in 25 majors.
Select the state’s top scholars and scientists to design the courses, videotaping the best lecturers, purchasing the copyright of the best textbook materials, and designing a suite of web-based learning tools. This would require a significant one-time investment of approximately $500K per course, for a total of $200 million.
. . . Require all state universities to offer all 412 courses to their students at a cost of only $250 per, plus $400 per semester for registration services and IT support. If a student took five courses per semester for three years, the total cost per student of the degree would be $9,900. Each student would be given free access to the state’s library of videotaped lectures, the online textbooks, and the web-based tools. The university would provide online discussion sections and laboratory sections.
For each instructor teaching 150 students, the state university would receive $75,000 in tuition, he calculates, not counting the administrative fee.
The low-cost, low-touch degree would be backed by an exam to demonstrate mastery.
Provide mandatory state-wide standardized tests for each year of each program, providing an accurate measure of student learning. The College Learning Assessment, as well as CLEP and GRE Subject exams, could be used to measure students’ progress in critical thinking, logic, writing skills, and discipline-specific competencies.
Well-prepared, motivated learners could earn a $9,900 degree in three years. The average college student, shaky on math and writing skills and used to hand-holding in high school, isn’t likely to make it without a lot more support. But it would be very interesting to see how many students would rise to the challenge in hopes of saving time and money.