There are many benefits to finishing your bachelor's degree in four years.

Tuition, fees, books and materials, and living expenses add up. If you have to take an extra semester of classes, it will cost you at least $5,212 (based on 2015 tuition and fees rates for resident students). Living expenses cost between $2,850 and $5,400 a semester. So, adding one semester onto your time to degree could cost you and your family more than $10,000. If you are a non-resident student, additional costs will be even higher.


If you take more than 12 credits per semester, you are getting more value for your tuition! Auburn charges undergraduate students the full-time tuition rate when they are enrolled for 12 credit hours. No additional tuition cost is charged for any credits you enroll above 12 hours (although there may be some lab or other fees, depending on the specific courses in which you enroll). So, tuition to enroll for 18 credit hours is the same as the amount Auburn charges for 12 credit hours. (Another way to think of it is that for every two semesters in which you enroll in 18 credit hours, you get 12 hours of tuition free!)


If you are planning to enter the job market after earning your bachelor's degree, staying in college for an additional semester or year costs you money in lost salary. Based on a recent survey conducted by Auburn University, an average graduate from the Harbert College of Business earns a starting salary of $47,381; an average graduate from the College of Sciences and Mathematics earns $37,919. Delaying the start of employment by a semester lowers the speed with which you begin earning an income, and it may reduce your overall lifetime income as well.


Prospective employers and graduate/professional school admissions committees are looking for people who have a strong work ethic, who are willing to put in long hours to achieve their goals, and who are able to succeed under pressure. Having an Auburn record that demonstrates that you were able to successfully complete a 15- to 16-hour course load each semester while being involved on campus and perhaps maintaining a part-time job will show prospective employers and admissions committees that you have what it takes to succeed in the future.

Students often contact me about how to become a competitive applicant for admission to pharmacy school (or other doctoral health professions programs). An essential component of a strong application is a solid academic record. Professional schools want their admitted applicants to demonstrate consistent academic performance as an undergraduate student. Consistent performance can be demonstrated by the completion of a baccalaureate degree within four academic years. In the specific case of Auburn University’s pre-pharmacy curriculum, the Harrison School of Pharmacy looks favorably on those applicants who complete the prerequisite requirements in the three-year allotted timeframe. Pharmacy schools, and other health professions programs, typically require academic course loads of at least 16-18 hours per semester. Students who enter professional schools having consistently taken light loads during their undergraduate years are less prepared for a rigorous professional school curriculum.

- Paul W. Jungnickel, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Harrison School of Pharmacy

Graduating in four years can lead to savings in additional semesters of tuition. Students can end up graduating with less of a financial burden if student loans are a factor. The same can be said for a student paying out-of-pocket regardless of in-state/out-of-state residence. This can be equally important for students on scholarships. Graduating in four years may jump start their professional career more quickly. Within the College of Business, we have professional recruiters visit each semester. It’s a high selling point when students meet recruiters and can have a solid graduation date.

- Christian J. Demyan, Academic Advisor, Harbert College of Business