Three Years FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

teacher and 3 studentsWhat are the benefits of a three-year or accelerated degree program?

The primary benefit of an accelerated degree is that it saves you time and money. Graduating early reduces the costs of tuition, student loans, and other college-related expenses and allows you to begin to achieve your career or graduate school goals ahead of schedule. Whatever your reason for considering an accelerated graduation path, it is important to understand how it's possible, what's involved, and whether this opportunity is right for you.

girl in classHow much can I potentially save by graduating early?

At Messiah, graduating one year early can save you as much as $37,000; graduating even one semester early can save you nearly $20,000-all while giving you a head start on your career or graduate school.

How do I know if my major provides opportunity for early graduation?

There are certain majors that lend themselves more readily to graduating early-majors in the humanities, business, and the social sciences for instance. Equally, there are majors that are not conducive to accelerated graduation due to their rigorous clinical, lab, practicum, or student teaching requirements-for example majors such as nursing, engineering, and education programs designed for teacher certification. To determine if your course of study has potential for an accelerated path, you may contact Jim Sotherden, College Registrar (717.691.6074 or  JSotherd@messiah.edu) or Erin Boyd-Soisson, Director of Academic Advising (717.766.2511, ext. 2254 or EBoyd@messiah.edu).

guy in classWill I need to formally declare my intent to graduate early (similar to the way that I'll need to declare a major or minor)?

While Messiah provides a variety of opportunities for early graduation in numerous majors, it is not a formalized degree program or track that you need to declare. However, it is essential to speak with your academic advisor as soon as possible so that you can assess if your early graduation goal is an option for your major and, if so, to develop a personal academic "game plan" to achieve it.

Will Messiah College guarantee that I can graduate early?

By offering resources such as this website and academic advisors who can help you with your accelerated degree goals, Messiah seeks to help you take advantage of opportunities that currently exist within many academic majors for early graduation. However, the College does not guarantee or ensure that all students who wish to graduate early can do so. This depends on students' individual major, the amount of advance planning they've done, when specific courses are offered, etc. You can help ensure your opportunity to graduate early by working as soon as possible with your academic advisor to determine if this is an option for your major and to develop a plan that will help you meet your goal.

Who should I work with to develop an individual academic "game plan" for graduating early?

When you begin your classes at Messiah College, you will be assigned an academic advisor who will help you process and plan your personal academic goals and pathway during your Messiah experience. However, if you have questions or would like to discuss the opportunity of an accelerated degree before you enroll at Messiah, you may contact Jim Sotherden, College Registrar (717.691.6074 or JSotherd@messiah.edu) or Erin Boyd-Soisson, Director of Academic Advising (717.766.2511, ext. 2254 or EBoyd@messiah.edu).


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Can I graduate early even if I didn't enter Messiah with alternative credit from high school (i.e., AP, CLEP, etc.)?

Entering Messiah College with alternative credit from AP, CLEP exams, and other equivalencies certainly maximizes your opportunity for early graduation (see summary examples). However, depending on your major, how soon you want to graduate, and your willingness to accumulate credit through summer courses, you may still have an opportunity for an accelerated degree. You'll need to work with your academic advisor as soon as possible to assess your specific options.

How do I know what course/credit equivalencies Messiah will give me for my alternative credit?

Messiah College allows students to count up to 32 semester hours of alternative credit toward graduation. To better understand the alternative credit equivalencies that Messiah will recognize, visit the Registrar's Office web site.

Will I need to take summer courses to earn a three-year or accelerated degree?

Not necessarily. Depending on how many alternative credits you accumulated prior to enrolling at Messiah, how early you wish to graduate, the requirements of your specific major, and what type of course load you carry during the standard academic year, it may not be necessary to take summer courses to meet your goal.

Can I be enrolled in the College Honors Program and graduate early?

Depending on your major, it is possible to be in the College Honors Program and pursue the opportunity to graduate early. However, it is important for you to work with your academic advisor soon as possible to develop your academic plan.

Can I still be involved in extracurricular activities and graduate early?

The balance between academic goals and extracurricular activities is very dependent on your individual gifts, abilities, and interests. It is possible for students to graduate early while being involved in extracurricular activities. However, it's important to work with your advisor to build an academic game plan that realistically balances your commitments outside the classroom as well.

How will pursuing early graduation impact my opportunities to study abroad?

This will vary depending on the major you're pursuing. Some majors lend themselves more easily to integrating a study abroad experience with an accelerated degree plan than others. Your academic advisor can help you explore what it is possible with your specific academic goals.

If I graduate early when would I receive my diploma?

Your degree and academic transcript will be certified shortly after the end of the semester in which you complete all of your degree requirements. You will be invited to participate in the annual May Commencement ceremony that most closely follows the completion of your last semester. If you complete your degree in the fall semester, you should receive your diploma in January or February. If you complete your degree during the spring semester, you will receive your diploma in the weeks following the May Commencement ceremony.