Earning an Accelerated Bachelor's Degree Online

Accelerated online bachelor's degree programs allow students to graduate faster than they would in a traditional four-year program. Fast college degrees may take just two or three years to complete, or even 18 months for students who enroll with previous college credit. Accelerated programs often require students to take a full course load each semester, so online learners must dedicate significant time to studying. However, some accelerated formats allow students to work through one course at a time, which can lessen the workload. This guide covers important information about pursuing an accelerated bachelor's degree online.

Earning an 18-Month Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree: A Timeline

Before Enrollment: Research

  • Figure out which school offers your preferred area of study in an accelerated format.
  • Calculate the total cost of attendance and research financial aid opportunities.
  • Identify admissions requirements and whether you can meet them. For instance, many accelerated online psychology degrees require incoming students to hold an associate degree or the equivalent number of credits.
  • Determine the technology requirements for remote learning, such as software and hardware requirements.
  • Find out if the program features any in-person requirements. If it does, ensure you can meet those requirements.
  • Enrollment: Apply

  • Complete the application.
  • Include all required documents, such as transcripts, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and proof of English proficiency.
  • Pay all fees before the deadline.
  • Apply for and arrange financial aid, such as private student loans, scholarships, and grants.
  • Attendance: Year 1

    Depending on the school, programs may be divided into quarters, semesters, or trimesters. During the first year of an accelerated bachelor’s degree program, students take core major courses and general education classes, such as science and writing.



    Attendance: Year 2

    In the second year of an accelerated program, students begin to take more advanced and specialized courses. Students may also complete internships or practicums, if required.

    Graduation: Second or third year

    After approximately 18 months to three years, students have met all the requirements for their bachelor’s degree and can apply for graduation. If they haven't secured employment yet, students may continue their job search during this time.

     

    Example Curriculum: Accelerated Bachelor's in Cybersecurity

    Below is an example curriculum for a student earning an accelerated bachelor's degree online in cybersecurity. This sample provides a general idea of the pacing and subjects of an accelerated program, but curricula vary by school.

    Quarters 1-2 or
    Semester 1

    Foundations of Information Technology
    Foundations of Cybersecurity
    Statistics

    Quarters 3-4 or
    Semester 2

    Introduction to Networks
    Routing and Switching Essentials
    Microsoft Windows Server Installation & Configuration

    Quarters 5-6 or
    Semester 3

    Ethical Hacking
    Advanced Penetration Testing
    Information Technology Capstone

    Accelerated Online Bachelor’s vs. Online Bachelor’s Timeline

    This guide outlines how long it takes to earn a bachelor's degree online, starting with high school preparation through the last year of college.

    What's the Fastest Online Bachelor's Degree to Get?

    Certain demographics may seek accelerated online bachelor's degree programs to fast track their education and careers. Below are program suggestions for three of these demographic groups: members of the military, people interested in healthcare, and professionals seeking high-salary jobs. Interested individuals should also visit this guide, which offers information about online degrees for working adults.

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's Programs For Military Members

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Criminal Justice
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      Completion Time

      This degree focuses on criminal behavior and law enforcement. The completion time for this program depends on the university. However, with transfer credits, students may finish the degree in two years. Some schools allow veterans to use their military service as experiential credits, which can count for certain general education and foundational courses.

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      Example Courses
      • The American Legal System: This course covers the U.S. court system, citizens' constitutional rights, and policies that influence the law.
      • Victimology: Students learn about psychological and sociological conditions of victimization, as well as the relationship between victims and offenders.
      • Criminal Justice Ethics: Virtually everything within the criminal justice field relates to ethics, so schools often dedicate an entire course to the topic.
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      Program Requirements

      Applicants usually need a high school diploma or GED to apply to this program. Once enrolled, instructors generally require students to participate in class projects. Sometimes the curriculum requires a practicum as well.

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity
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      Completion Time

      Cybersecurity bachelor's programs teach learners how to protect companies and individuals from technological breaches and theft. Students enrolled in the accelerated version of this program may complete the degree in 2-3 years. They can accelerate their degree further by bringing in transfer credits or taking extra courses each semester.

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      Example Courses
      • Foundations of Cybersecurity: Students take this course, which introduces them to cybersecurity concepts, at the beginning of the program.
      • Introduction to Networks: This course covers network operating systems, wireless transmission, and network security.
      • Ethical Hacking: Learners review how to identify weaknesses in security systems in order to prevent network hacks.
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      Program Requirements

      Cybersecurity programs usually require prospective students to possess a high school diploma or GED to apply. Accelerated programs sometimes require transfer credits. Sometimes students choose a concentration or certificate along with the cybersecurity degree. They also typically must complete a capstone course.

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Business Administration
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      Completion Time

      This program often gives students credit for professional business experience and military experience. Schools often run courses in seven- and 10-week formats, so students can focus on one course at a time.

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      Example Courses
      • Accounting: This course teaches accounting concepts like liabilities, investments, and content and analysis of income statements.
      • Finance: This course introduces students to basic financial theory and financial planning.
      • Marketing Management: Students learn about the connection between consumers and the marketplace.
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      Program Requirements

      Sometimes universities only admit students with business experience into an accelerated business program. However, students can typically apply with a high school diploma or GED and no work experience. Colleges frequently require a capstone project at the end of the program, during which students create a real or imagined business plan.


     

    Accelerated Online Healthcare and Medical Bachelor's Programs

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration
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      Completion Time

      A healthcare administration degree prepares students to work in leadership positions at healthcare institutions. Accelerated healthcare administration programs often offer shorter but more intense terms, so students can study at a faster pace. Alternatively, students can bring in transfer credits or enroll in extra credits each semester.

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      Example Courses
      • Healthcare Economics: This course examines economic theory and resource allocation regarding the U.S. healthcare system.
      • Human Resources in Healthcare: Learners study topics like compensation and benefits, personnel planning, and employee training at healthcare institutions.
      • Healthcare Finance: Course material covers concepts such as working capital management and cost flow analysis as they relate to healthcare institutions.
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      Program Requirements

      Prospective students can apply with a high school diploma or GED. Sometimes, admission requires a minimum GPA. Schools usually require students to complete a capstone course before they graduate. This capstone experience often involves independent research.

    Accelerated Online RN-to-BSN
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      Completion Time

      RN-to-BSN programs allow registered nurses to quickly earn their bachelor's in nursing. Schools typically give credit for education and professional experience. Students can often complete the program in 12, 18, or 24 months.

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      Example Courses
      • Health Informatics: This course teaches nurses how to handle electronic healthcare records while following HIPAA confidentiality regulations.
      • Community Health Nursing: Students learn about health promotion and disease prevention in their local communities.
      • Genetics in Nursing and Healthcare: Course material covers genetic disorders, gene therapy techniques, and the ethics surrounding genetics in healthcare.
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      Program Requirements

      Students must complete an associate degree in nursing before they can apply to RN-to-BSN programs. They should also possess RN licensure, and schools often prefer applicants with work experience. Before graduating, RN-to-BSN students typically need to complete a capstone course or professional practicum.

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Public Health and Nutrition
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      Completion Time

      Public health and nutrition graduates prepare for work as nutritionists, health advocates, and other health workers. Students may graduate from an accelerated public health and nutrition program in two or three years. Sometimes, nutrition programs allow students to follow an accelerated bachelor's-to-master's format, which allows them to earn both degrees in five years.

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      Example Courses
      • Public Health Epidemiology: This course examines diseases in communities, as well as how public health professionals can use data to stop diseases from spreading.
      • Concepts in Nutrition: This course covers the fundamentals of nutrition and how different nutrients create a healthy human metabolism.
      • Nutrition Communication: Students learn how to effectively educate patients, including communicating difficult nutritional concepts so that patients can easily understand them.
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      Program Requirements

      Prospective students need a high school diploma or GED. The curriculum usually includes a comprehensive capstone course or a field experience. A capstone requires students to apply their knowledge to real-world experiences, while a practical experience might include an internship or service learning project. Distance learners can complete this requirement in their own communities.


     

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's Programs for High Salary Careers

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Accounting
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      Completion Time

      People who want to work as certified public accountants often pursue a bachelor's degree in accounting. Accountants earn a mean salary of over $70,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). With short but intense terms and enough transfer credits, students can complete an accelerated program in accounting in 2-3.5 years.

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      Example Courses
      • Principles of Accounting: This course covers basic accounting concepts such as expenses, assets, income, and balance sheets.
      • Auditing: Students learn how to evaluate financial statements to ensure they're in line with laws and regulations.
      • Taxation: Learners study taxation policies at the local, state, and federal levels. They learn about accounting methods to ensure clients comply with income law.
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      Program Requirements

      Students can apply with a high school diploma or GED. Some schools require students to enter the program with a certain number of transfer credits and a minimum GPA. Toward the end of the program, students usually need to take a capstone course.

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Computer Science
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      Completion Time

      Computer science graduates can find several high-paying careers. Options include computer programmers, who earn a mean salary of $82,480, or computer and information systems managers, who enjoy a mean salary of over $142,000. Accelerated programs often seek candidates with previous knowledge of computer programming, which can count as transfer credit. Students may graduate in 2-3 years.

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      Example Courses
      • Programming Fundamentals: Students learn about different programming languages and structured data types.
      • Introduction to Networks: The course covers the architecture, functions, and structure of the internet and other computer networks.
      • Operating Systems: Learners study security systems, memory management, and concurrent process control in various operating systems.
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      Program Requirements

      Applicants need at least a high school diploma or GED. Sometimes, programs require students to understand basic programming or computer science concepts to pursue the degree in an accelerated format. At the end of the program, distance learners usually need to complete a capstone project that integrates their knowledge and skills from the program.

    Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Engineering
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      Completion Time

      Professionals can earn over $100,000 in various engineering roles, according to BLS data. Accelerated programs allow students to graduate in 2.5-3.5 years. Some schools offer short but intense terms, while others let learners enroll in a heavy course load each semester. Some colleges require students to enroll year-round, including the summer, to complete an accelerated program.

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      Example Courses
      • Circuit Theory: Electronic engineering students examine electric circuits. The course covers topics like transformed networks and natural frequencies.
      • Microprocessor Organization: Learners in this class study system design, hardware interfacing, memory organization, and microcontroller organization.
      • Engineering and Ethics: Students discuss contemporary ethical theories, concerns, and dilemmas within the engineering profession.
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      Program Requirements

      Applicants need a high school diploma or GED in addition to standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT. Engineering curricula vary depending on the type of engineering that students study. However, most programs include a final project or comprehensive capstone course.

    Other Popular Accelerated Degree Subjects

    Explore More Accelerated Degree Levels