Guide to Accelerated Online College Degrees

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to find your fit?

Getting a college degree usually takes several years. With an accelerated online college degree, students complete coursework sooner. Choosing an accelerated pace can help students reach their goals faster. An accelerated format can also save students money and help them enter the workforce sooner.

A traditional bachelor's degree takes at least four years to earn. Accelerated bachelor's degrees can take as little as one year, depending on the student's transfer credits. But an accelerated format may not work for every student. Our guide walks through everything prospective students need to know about earning an online accelerated degree.

Accelerated Degree vs. Traditional Degree

Accelerated Bachelor's Degree

  • Students may need an associate degree to apply.
  • Classes can start at various times in the year.
  • Students take classes all year, including summer.
  • Students can graduate in 12-18 months.

Traditional Bachelor's Degree

  • Students can apply right out of high school.
  • Classes start in fall, spring, or summer.
  • Students take classes during fall and spring semesters.
  • Students take 4-5 years to graduate.

What Is an Online Accelerated Program?

An online accelerated college degree offers the same classes as a traditional program in a shorter format. Students go through the program at a faster pace. Programs use an accelerated schedule with shorter terms or offer classes year-round instead of just fall and spring.

Undergrads can earn an accelerated bachelor's degree in as little as one year with transfer credits. Some schools also offer accelerated graduate degrees.

Why Choose an Accelerated Degree Program?

An accelerated online degree works for students who want to finish their degree quickly. These programs offer a faster path to a college degree, especially for learners with previous college credits. An accelerated program can also save students money.

Before doing an online accelerated degree, applicants should think about if they can make enough time for it. Working professionals and busy students may struggle to keep up with the fast pace and heavy course load.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

How Do Accelerated Online Degree Programs Work?

Accelerated programs use different formats. The most common format breaks the traditional semester into two terms. Students then take 1-2 classes per term. Unlike a traditional program, spanning fall and spring semesters, most accelerated programs run year-round, including summer classes.

For an accelerated bachelor's program, students complete the same graduation requirements they would in a traditional program. But instead of getting a degree in 4-6 years, they get it in 1-2 years, depending on transfer credits.

What to Consider When Choosing an Accelerated Online Degree Program

Before doing an accelerated online college degree, research the questions below. These topics will help students find the right program for their own situation.

true Q. What Are the Credit Requirements?

Prospective students should understand a degree's credit requirements and the amount of time needed to complete the credits. A bachelor's degree usually requires 120 credits. Some accelerated programs require an associate degree for admission. These programs function as a degree completion program. Students should also consider asking what happens if they do not pass a class.

true Q. What Makes the Program Accelerated?

Some accelerated programs use a shorter five- to eight-week term. Other programs offer six or more terms during the year, so students take more classes. Prospective students should ask what makes the program accelerated. Each program sets its own format and schedule.

true Q. How Much Will it Really Cost?

Accelerated programs can save students money. But applicants should understand the total cost before enrolling. Besides tuition, students pay for research fees, textbooks, and other expenses. The cost of an accelerated degree might differ from traditional degrees offered at the same school. Learners should ask the school for the program's total cost.

true Q. Are There Any In-Person Requirements?

Some online programs include in-person requirements. They can include on-campus residencies, internships, or practica in the student's local area, or in-person labs. Find out about in-person requirements before applying. These requirements could add to the degree's cost. For example, on-campus residencies increase costs because of travel and housing costs.

Benefits of Online Accelerated Degrees

An accelerated online college degree offers several benefits besides a faster route to a degree. Below find some of the reasons students choose an online accelerated degree.

Many accelerated programs use a set curriculum. This may not appeal to students interested in customizing their degree with electives. However, a set curriculum offers a clearly defined academic pathway for majors. Some programs offer a career-focused curriculum that builds the skills needed for a specific job after graduation. Many accelerated programs admit a small cohort of students. These students move through the program together, taking classes at the same pace. They also graduate at the same time. A smaller cohort lets students network with each other. Learners also receive focused attention from instructors. An online accelerated college degree can cost less than a traditional degree. In some programs, learners pay a flat tuition rate per term. That helps students taking more classes save money. Students in an accelerated program may also receive credit for previous experience, lowering degree costs. Accelerated programs move through the material quickly. Students rely on self-direction and organizational skills to stay on top of coursework. The schedule provides an extremely focused approach to coursework. The format works for students who like to focus on fewer classes at a time. In many accelerated programs, learners take 1-2 classes at a time versus 3-5 classes in a traditional term. Earning a degree quickly saves students time and money. Accelerated programs let students enter the workforce sooner, save on tuition, and complete job requirements faster. For many students who choose an accelerated program, graduating sooner ranks among the most important benefits.

How to Accelerate Your Online Program

Even students not pursuing an online accelerated degree can take steps to get their degree quickly. This section covers ways to accelerate your online program.

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

See articles by Genevieve

Latest Posts

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Do this for you

Explore your possibilities- find schools with programs you’re interested in and clear a path for your future.