Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees

Accelerated Bachelor's Degree

Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees

Earn your degree faster with an accelerated bachelor degree!

What Is an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Program?

Many people wonder what the fastest way to get a bachelor’s degree is. An accelerated bachelor’s program allows students to earn a college degree faster. They are available in many majors from business to criminal justice and IT.

How Do Accelerated Programs Work?

When you enroll in an accelerated bachelor’s degree program, the schedule may be tight. Classes are usually shorter and compressed into 5, 8 or 10-week sessions too. So, by ramping up your pace, you might complete your bachelor’s degree in as little as 1 year.

In contrast, traditional college classes run during semesters. There are usually two semesters – Spring and Fall. So, classes take about 16 weeks to complete. Given that a bachelor’s degree entails at least 120 credits, the average time to earn one this way is 4 years.

Who might benefit from an accelerated degree program?

  • Persons who earned an associate degree and have transfer credits
  • You started your bachelor’s degree a while ago but never finished
  • Busy adults with not a lot of time to spare
  • Members of the military
  • Law Enforcement professionals
  • Aspiring nurses

Pros of Accelerated Degree Programs

People who choose an accelerated bachelor’s degree may enjoy many benefits. By enrolling in one of these programs, you might:

Earn your degree faster

If time is of the essence, earning a degree faster means having the credential in hand quicker too. This may be a huge plus if your dream job entails a college degree. You’ll earn your degree sooner which may mean landing that job faster too.

Enhance your resume now

Adding your anticipated time to graduation may boost your resume. Employers often appreciate the motivation it takes to finish a degree. As such, it may improve your marketability to some employers before you finish.

Start your college degree when you want

Accelerated degree classes may be available all year. Many colleges process applications on a rolling basis. So, you don’t have to wait for a traditional semester start date.

Earn credit for prior learning

Many accelerated programs allow you to test out of courses. Or move through coursework you are familiar with. This allows you to focus on learning new material and studying at your pace.

Make the most out of your time

Many accelerated programs omit breaks. If you are someone who prefers to keep the momentum going, this may be the ticket. You’ll be able to stay in the groove instead of stopping and risking the temptation to quit.

Set your own pace

Accelerated online bachelor’s programs often let you set your own schedule. Many working adults and parents like this feature. With no set times to log in, you are able to tailor studies to your lifestyle.

Study on the move

Online accelerated degree programs are flexible. A computer and viable internet allow you to take your degree with you. Whether you deploy, have a job, kids or simply live far from your college.

Accelerated is often adult friendly

Many adults do not want to return to college because they feel older and out of place. But accelerated online programs often make for an easier transition. You may still get to network and take part in discussions, but it is usually through web chat and the like.

Save money

Students who earn an accelerated degree online may be able to save costs. For one, each year you are in school adds tuition. Since you are in school for a shorter period, you end up paying less in the long run. No student housing or travel costs to school either.

Cons of Accelerated Degree Programs

While there are benefits, there are challenges to accelerating your degree too.

It takes self motivation

It is going to be much harder if you are not a self motivated learner.  Remember you set your pace. So, your ability to discipline yourself is crucial.

Shorter programs are intense

Some accelerated bachelor’s degree programs pack 120 credits into a shorter time frame. This may mean studying with a full course load and without breaks. If you work full time, consider how much time you have to devote to your degree.

Expect fast paced

Some people learn best when they can process and absorb material. Or have breathers like summer break. You may need to give those things up in an accelerated program.

There’s no face to face

Most accelerated programs are online so you may not set foot on campus. If you are someone who feels motivated by others, you may miss the in person interaction.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree?

If you are wondering whether you can earn a bachelor’s degree in two years, yes it may be possible. Often, one needs from 12 to 18 months to complete an accelerated bachelor’s degree program.

But how long your degree takes depends on a few things. Like how many transfer credits you have. What kind of program you enroll in. And whether you’re pursuing two degrees at once. We’ll unpack a few ways to graduate in a quicker time frame below.

More Schools You May Be Interested In

Second Degree Bachelor’s Programs

One example is an accelerated nursing program. These are usually for students who already have a bachelor’s degree but not in nursing. Such ‘second degree’ nursing programs may allow students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 11 to 18 months. Apart from science courses, you usually have clinical instruction in labs and supervised nursing.

Associate to Bachelor’s Degree Completion

Many students pursuing an accelerated online degree already have an associate degree. If you earned it from an accredited college, all or some of these credits usually transfer over.

The way an associate to bachelor completion program works varies too. But you often get credit for all your general education courses. Now have fewer to do, you may finish in two years.

Credit for Prior Learning

Some students may also speed up their time to graduation by using credits from other sources. Transferring credits from a program you may have already started is one. Another is by testing out of classes through AP programs and CLEP exams.

Credit for Military Experience

Military friendly colleges often have generous transfer credit policies for military and Veteran students. These offer credit for military experience. Usually based on ACE recommendations on the Joint Service Transcript (JST). Using these credits may shorten the path to a college degree. Plus, if you deploy, online courses may be easier to access.

Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative (AU-ABC) 
There’s another option for enlisted airman. This is to enroll in an Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative (AU-ABC).

An AU-ABC is for those who have an associate degree from the Community College of the Air Force. The program links CCAF grads to accredited civilian school with online bachelor’s degrees.

There are 59 colleges that partner with the Air Force and about 217 programs to choose from. One is American Intercontinental University. When you pursue an AIU-ABC Business degree at AIU, they accept CCAF credits right away. This has the potential to save you 50% in time and tuition.

AU-ABC programs allow CCAF grads to earn their bachelor’s degree in no more than 60 credit hours. This makes it a quicker path to graduation. Plus, one may use benefits to offset tuition costs. 

3+1 Accelerated Degrees

Another quick path to a bachelor’s degree is a ‘3 Plus 1’ program. These roll a 4-year bachelor’s degree in with a master’s degree. Usually it means condensing a bachelor’s program into 3 years. Then beginning your master’s degree in your third year.

One example of this kind of program is a 3 + 1 BS in accounting and MS in accounting. The final year helps fill the gap of credit hours one needs to fulfill CPA licensure requirements.

Law Enforcement Advanced Standing Bachelor’s Programs

Some colleges (American Intercontinental University is one) offer Law Enforcement Advanced Standing Programs. These provide transfer credits to law enforcement professionals.

Usually, it helps to speed up the time it takes to earn a criminal justice degree. Students need to have completed on a state approved law enforcement academy. Or a related training program.

Steps that May Add Time 

Another factor that impacts length is the type of program you are in. Some programs are hands-on, even when you study online.

One example is a bachelor’s degree in education. These programs often include some practice teaching under supervision. This part is critical to obtaining a state license. So, while prior learning credits may transfer, there may be no quick way to do your practicum.

How Quickly You Learn

If you have fewer credits to do but need to study part time, you may graduate ahead of four years. But, not as fast as if you enrolled full time. Figuring out how much time you can devote may give you a clear understanding of how long it can take to graduate.

How Much Does an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

At last check, the average cost of earning a bachelor’s degree at an in state public 4 year college is $19,488. Pursuing a college degree out of state costs an average of $24,854.

Another factor that impacts cost is how many credits you can transfer in. When paying per credit, the fewer credits you need to complete, the fewer you pay for. In some colleges with robust policies you might save up to 75% of your tuition.

Competency Based Learning

A wide range of colleges offer online degrees with a competency based learning option. These empower you to take the most efficient path to complete your studies.

Instead of paying a cost per credit, some colleges offer a term based tuition model. Here, you usually play a flat rate for the term. So, the more courses you are able to complete in that billing cycle, the greater your potential to cut costs.

Is an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Right for You? 

Remember that earning your degree on your terms means you need to figure out what your terms are. If you want to graduate ‘ahead of the class’, think about what a realistic speed is. Then choose an accelerated bachelor’s degree program that weighs:

  • Your career goals 
  • Amount of time each course takes and how many you have to complete 
  • How long you can devote to studying each week 
  • Prior learning, military experience, transfer credits 

Whatever level of commitment you are ready for, pursuing a college degree may pay off. For one, a bachelor’s degree is the entry point to many careers. Plus, having one may also increase lifetime earnings.

To give you an idea, one study compared people with a bachelor’s degree vs. an associate degree. They found bachelor’s degree holders earn an average of $1,348 per month. That’s a pretty big difference to strive for, however fast you can do it.

Accelerated Bachelor's Degree

10 Schools with Accelerated Online Programs

Many online colleges (and traditional ones too) offer accelerated bachelor’s degree programs. You can also look for these speedier options by other names. Like fast track bachelor’s degree programs and bachelor’s completion programs. These programs allow you to earn a college degree within in the shortest time possible.

1Western Governors University
Visit WGU

Most students complete their bachelor’s degree from WGU in much less time than four years and some even finish in 12 months or less.

How do they do it?

Competency based learning. Instead of completing courses when a semester ends, you complete a course when you can show that you’ve mastered the material. This can help shave months or even years off of your degree program.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Business, Teaching, IT, Health and Nursing

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad $6,670
Grad: $7,500

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards 
Avg. Amt. $2,635
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $3,103


Council for Business Schools and Programs

2 Capella University
Visit Capella

Capella University has one of the fastest paths to a bachelor’s degree. You can complete four years worth of courses in about two years. The top 10% of FlexPath students finish within a year.

How do they do it?

Capella’s FlexPath. With no set semester or quarter system, you learn on your schedule. Finish a course and move on to the next one without having to wait. Or, take the extra time you need on a new topic.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Business, Education Healthcare Administration, IT, Nursing, Psychology

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad $14,540
Grad: $14,767

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $5,051
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $9,835


Higher Learning Commission

3 Indiana Wesleyan University
Visit IWU

Indiana Wesleyan University’s online bachelor’s degree programs are all in business, management or admin fields. Some students complete these degree programs in as few as 10 months.

How do they do it?

You may be able to shorten your program with a prior learning assessment portfolio. You can also transfer up to 90 credits and earn up to 40 credits from relevant prior learning.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Business, Criminal Justice, Nursing, Social Work

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad $9,743
Grad: $11,083

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $6,321
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $8,961


Higher Learning Commission

4 Liberty University
Visit Liberty

Liberty University has one of the biggest selections of online bachelor degree programs and they offer many different options to help fast track your degree.

How do they do it?

Job training in certain fields can help you earn credits and you can submit an Experience Plus Portfolio for credit as well. Liberty University also lets you transfer up to 75% of your degree program from another school and they also offer online degree completion programs as well.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Science, Healthcare Administration, IT, Sports Management

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $22,747
Grad: $7,980

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $7,509
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $7,656


Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

5 American Intercontinental University
Visit AIU

AIU’s online school has a great menu of bachelor degree programs and their prior learning credit system can really help you cut down on the time it takes to finish your program.

How do they do it?

You can earn credits for training or having work experience that directly relates to the degree you are pursing. You can also transfer up to 75% of your previous college credits. And, AIU offers exams that can be taken, that if passed, can be substituted for lower level courses in your degree program.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Business Admin, Criminal Justice, IT, Education 

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $12,400
Grad: $12,060

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $5,577
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $7,784


Higher Learning Commission

6 Northeastern University
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Northeaster U has many online bachelor degree programs and offers options to complete them faster.

How do they do it?

You can submit exam scores from tests like AP, CLEP, DSST and Excelsior. Northeastern also has 3 online degree college completion programs. And, the school allows you to transfer up to 50% of previous college credit.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Psychology, Physics

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $53,506
Grad: $24,793

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $28,199
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $5,918


New England Commission of Higher Education

7 Colorado Technical University
Visit CTU

Besides their wide selection of online degree programs, CTU offers a unique apprach to prior learning assesment.

How do they do it?

Colorado Technical University’s FastTrack. A series of exams tests your knowledge of key course objectives. This provides an opportunity to earn college credit for what you already know. Apart from earning your degree faster, you might save up to 30% on tuition 

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Accounting Business Admin, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Healthcare Management, IT

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $12,529
Grad: $13,710

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $4,270
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $8,036


Higher Learning Commission

8 Purdue Global University
Visit PG

Students can choose from 175 online programs and flexible learning paths, including competency based ExcelTrack™ programs. 

How do they do it?

Purdue’s ExcelTrack™ program. With no set semester or quarter system, you control the pace, deadlines and course load. Finish a course and move on to the next one without waiting. Or, take the extra time you need on a new topic.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Analytics, Business Admin, Healthcare Admin, Criminal Justice, Cyber security, IT.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $14,358
Grad: $9,768

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $4,464
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $6,195


Higher Learning Commission

9 Concordia University Chicago
Visit School

Concordia University offers accelerated online degree programs that are fast even if you don’t have transfer credits.

How do they do it?

Concordia University’s fast paced degree programs can be completed in as few as 16 months and courses are only five weeks long. But, you will need to have two years of full time work experience in order to qualify for these programs.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Health Care Management, HR Management, Sports and Recreation Management

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $32,880
Grad: $8,910

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $18,999
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $6,914


Higher Learning Commission

10 Colorado State University 
Visit CSU

CSU provides students with various online degree programs but even better, there are many selections of concentrations or specializations.

How do they do it?

To quicken the time it takes to complete your degree program, CSU offers ways for you to receive alternative credits. What this means is that you can take college level exams or submit relevant portfolio experience which they review.

Other Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs

Computer Science, Economics, Human Development and Family Studies, Psychology

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $8,400
Grad: $9,000

Financial Aid

Grants & Awards
Avg. Amt. $3,508
Federal Loans
Avg. Amt. $6,737


Higher Learning Commission

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access.
  • Offering over 200 online degree

Popular Programs

Business Administration, Psychology, Information Technology, Human Services…

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