Examples Of Online Degree Completion Programs

Programs that follow a more traditional structure would likely involve taking two or three classes per 8-week session.

Updated August 29, 2022

Examples Of Online Degree Completion Programs

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Best Online Degree-Completion Programs

An online degree-completion program provides a flexible pathway for students to finish a bachelor's degree. These programs benefit learners who began college but did not graduate due to time, money, or commitment concerns. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people with a bachelor's degree make an average of $1,305 per week. People with some college experience but no degree earn $877 on average per week.

This guide explores example online degree-completion programs and explains how they work. It also covers what steps students need to take to complete their degrees.

Online Bachelor's Degree-Completion Programs Available

There are a variety of programs available for completing a bachelor's degree online. While this guide offers many program examples and descriptions, students should request program-specific information from schools directly.

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Best Online Programs

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

Boston University

Boston University offers a fully online bachelor's degree-completion program in interdisciplinary studies with a liberal arts curriculum that explores topics in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and math. Students can finish the program in as few as 30 months. The program requires learners to have at least 52-64 transfer credits to enroll. Once accepted, students in the program take upwards of 76 credits in a highly diverse course of study. Example classes include nature and the divine in myth, literature and art, and food stuff: a taste of biology.

California State University

As a part of the California State University (CSU) system, Cal State Online offers various bachelor's degree-completion programs across many disciplinary majors. Examples include BA in information technology, and BA in leadership and management degrees. Some of these programs, such as the BA in leadership, offers students with work and leadership experience the opportunity to earn nontraditional credits based on their knowledge and skills.

Ohio University

The online degree completion program at Ohio University is designed for students who have earned an associate degree or about 60 credit hours. Online bachelor's completion degrees offered include programs in criminal justice, psychology, applied management, and human services.

Penn State

The Penn State degree-completion program, launched in 2016, is offered through the Penn State World Campus online program. The degree conferred upon completion is a bachelor of science degree in integrated social sciences. This means that students who already have credits in anthropology, communication arts and sciences, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology can transfer these credits to Penn State and complete their degree online. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate, which includes 30 credits in social sciences. Learners can transfer up to 90 credits.

Pace University

Based out of Pace University of New York state, The iPace online degree-completion program offers several online bachelor's degrees. Available majors include business studies, nursing, professional communication studies, and professional technology studies. Coursework can be completed in 2-3 years, with concentrations available in both the business and technology programs. Pace also features a transfer credit program that allows students to transfer up to 68 credits from two-year institutions or 75-90 credits from four-year schools.

Thomas Edison State University

Established in 1972 in New Jersey, this public university offers degree-completion programs tailored to the needs of adult learners. There are more than 100 areas of study available, or students can develop their own course of study. TESU students can transfer up to 80 credits from an accredited community college or up to 120 credits from a four-year college or university that holds accreditation. Qualifying students can also earn credits by exams such as the DANTES or CLEP. TESU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Massachusetts

Through its UMassOnline program, the University of Massachusetts offers degree-completion programs designed for students who've already completed some degree requirements. Degrees available include the BA in English, the BA in psychology, the BS in business administration, and the RN-to-BSN degree. There are over 30 programs available in a variety of disciplines and areas. U Mass is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina's Palmetto College offers online bachelor's degree-completion programs for students who have at least 45 credit hours. Programs include BS in business administration—accounting, BA in elementary education, BA in in health informatics, BS in human services, and a BA in liberal studies. The school offers over 10 programs. Courses are taught by professors who teach within the USC system.

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Top Online Programs

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

Online Degree-Completion Program Formats

Formats for online degree-completion programs vary. Most schools design their programs to accelerate students' progress to graduation.

Online programs that follow a traditional structure often involve taking two or three classes per 8-week session. Students attend weekly live lectures online and complete weekly assignments.

Alternative programs may offer more flexibility by offering credit by exam policies. These policies allow learners to test out of classes to receive college credit for subjects they already know.

How to Transfer Credits to an Online Degree-Completion Program

Each school features its own policy and procedure for transferring credits. Students should research each prospective schools' transfer credit policy to ensure they transfer in as many credits as possible.

At a minimum, learners often need to submit a transcript of their coursework from accredited institutions they have attended. Some programs will pair degree-seekers up with an academic adviser to review which of their credits would apply toward their course of study. Other programs provide students with an articulation agreement or transfer credit guide. Learners can use these resources to perform their own credit reviews.

Many schools award transfer credit for demonstrated proficiency on assessments such as Advanced Placement (AP) or College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. Some programs also provide more opportunities to obtain credit through work experience, military training, and professional certifications.

Financial Aid for Degree Completion

For federal student loan assistance eligibility, students must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen enrolled in an accredited institution. There are many federal loans available to students to cover tuition or related costs, both for borrowers who demonstrate financial need and those who do not.

Degree-seekers start the financial aid process by submitting the FAFSA. Based on FAFSA results, prospective schools send students a financial aid award letter. This letter lists federal student loans that learners are eligible to receive. A school's financial aid office can tell learners how to accept all or a part of the loans.

Before students receive their loan funds, they must complete entrance counseling. This counseling ensures that learners understand the loan process and their repayment obligations.

Learn more about financial aid for online colleges.

Costs of a Degree-Completion Program

The cost of a degree-completion program depends on each school's fee structure. Below, we list a few different ways schools may charge students in online degree-completion programs.

  1. Charge a flat per-credit rate for all students regardless of their resident status or program
  2. Charge online students the same as those with in-state resident status who attend an on-campus program, but with an additional technology fee for each credit
  3. Charge a flat-rate tuition to encourage the completion of more coursework per term

Costs can range anywhere from around $300-$600 per credit and higher. Some schools can add significant fees while others maintain flat rates.

Given all of this variability, students should compare the fee structures of several programs of interest and calculate the total estimated cost of their degree before choosing a school.

Tips and Tricks For Choosing a Degree

Make your purpose and priorities clear. Returning to school can be daunting for many reasons. Below, we list questions to ask yourself before researching schools.:

  1. Are you considering a degree to enhance your career or to prepare for the career you want?
  2. Do you have the time and the space to do your coursework online, or would it make more sense to finish at a local college campus?
  3. Is affordability important?

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.

Best Online Programs

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

Accelerated Degree-Completion Programs

Below is a quick reference guide on the pros and cons an accelerated degree-completion program presents.

Why accelerated?

Accelerated degree-completion programs offer a number of core strengths:

Completion time: Students in accelerated programs have the potential (based on transfer credit) to earn a degree in as little as 1-3 years.

Combined degrees: Some programs combine a bachelor's and a master's degree in one continuous course of study. This format allows students to earn both degrees in less time.

Flexibility: Accelerated programs offer classroom-based courses more frequently throughout the year or completely online.

Who are accelerated degrees good for? What student attributes are important?

Accelerated degree-completion programs are best suited to students who have already acquired college credits, and who are comfortable working quickly with more responsibility.

Students who enroll in an accelerated program should be organized, self-driven, and able to balance school with work demands and family commitments.

How do they work? What makes these programs faster?

Accelerated programs primarily rely on transfer credit to facilitate a faster rate of completion.

For bachelor's degrees, schools often require students to have taken at least 60 credits of coursework to enroll. Other schools require an associate degree.

Some master's degree-completion programs require at least two years of full-time relevant work experience and a bachelor's degree.

Unlike traditional programs that follow a semester calendar, accelerated programs offer classes either throughout the year or online. This format gives students more access to materials, assignments, and assessments.

Students move through their courses of study faster than their peers. Instead of a typical 16-week term, accelerated programs use 6-, 8-, or 10-week terms, during which students take two or three courses at a time.

In competency-based programs, students can make fast progress by taking direct assessments, which allow students to receive credit for what they already know.

What are the drawbacks to an accelerated online degree program?

An accelerated degree-completion program may not suit students who are just starting a degree. These learners may not meet the eligibility requirements to enroll.

Students with little free time may find accelerated programs challenging. In addition, learners who struggle with organization or self-directed learning may want to pursue a traditional program.

Additional Resources

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