An accelerated degree program is designed to move students through college curriculum at a faster pace. While there are differences between accelerated programs, most provide flexible options for those who wish to avoid the traditional four-year college structure. Can you fast track a degree, and are accelerated degrees good? Learn how you can finish college faster with these accelerated degree options.
How do accelerated degree programs work?
Accelerated degree programs fast track college education. While traditional college often takes 4-6 years to complete, accelerated degrees cut down that time significantly, shaving off months or even years depending on the program.
Not every program achieves this goal in the same way. Here are some different ways accelerated degree programs work:
- Condensed schedules: Some accelerated degree programs squeeze in more terms per year in order for students to complete courses at a faster pace. Traditional college semesters are 16 weeks and run twice per school year with a summer break. Accelerated programs can cut down term lengths up to half with less break time, meaning students fit in more courses per year.
- Higher course loads: A full-time college course load is typically 4 courses per semester. Accelerated programs may add on additional courses to ensure faster completion.
- Credit by exam: Another way to finish college faster is through credit by exam. While credit by exam cannot be used to get your entire degree, this system does accelerate overall progress by helping students earn college credits by testing out of courses. Through one proficiency test, students can avoid taking an entire college course.
These accelerated degree options don’t have to work independently of each other. For example, credit by exam can be paired with a variety of degree paths, accelerated or not. Students can test out of general education courses to save time and focus on their main area of study.
It’s important to note that not all accredited programs accept credit by exam, so students must verify with their chosen college or university whether this is a viable option before pursuing.
Are accelerated degrees good?
Yes, accelerated degrees are good. While this road to graduation may look different, students receive the same degrees and required education to secure employment. The academics are the same; it’s only the pace that’s different.
A bigger question may be whether or not accelerated degrees are good for you.
Because every accelerated program is different, it’s important to research whether or not the program fits your needs. For example, programs that move at a brisk pace with minimal breaks may be too demanding for your work schedule, meaning you’ll need to find a more realistic speed.
Do your research, exploring:
- Workload and schedule: How many courses does the program require at a time? What are the term lengths and are there breaks in between?
- Online vs. in person: Where do classes meet? Where you learn can make a big difference for your schedule and preferred learning style.
- Synchronous vs. asynchronous learning: Do students learn altogether (synchronous) or do they move through material at their own pace (asynchronous)? You may prefer one style over the other.
- Support systems: How does the program help students beyond the time-saving factor? Can you utilize tutoring, online resources, career counseling, or other services?
How long does it usually take to graduate college?
The traditional college path is built on a four-year structure. Unfortunately, not all students are able to graduate within this time frame.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics:
- 6 years: average graduation length for first-time, full-time college students
- 4.5 years: average graduation length for adult students
Many factors can affect how long it usually takes to graduate college, including:
- Work schedule
- Family obligations
- Budget constraints
- Education workload
- Support systems
- Changing majors/uncertainty in career path
Too often, traditional college programs don’t account for life demands outside the classroom, making it difficult for students to balance their education and personal commitments.
This has created a need for flexible, supportive education solutions that are more realistic for modern students.
Luckily there are now more options than ever before for students to balance education with work/life responsibilities.
How fast can I graduate college?
Can you fast track a degree? The answer is yes! Depending on your field of study and what kind of accelerated program you utilize, you may be able to cut down your college time by half.
How fast you can graduate college depends on a number of factors:
- Degree type: Bachelor’s programs are built on a four-year structure, whereas Master’s programs average two years. Even when taking accelerated options into account, finishing a bachelor’s degree naturally takes longer to complete the required coursework.
- Field of study: Some career paths require multiple degrees in order to do the job, such as being a doctor or lawyer. If you need advanced degrees for your career, it will take longer to finish college.
- Schedule availability: If your schedule allows, taking multiple courses at once will speed up your graduation timeline.
- Budget: Finances play a big role in how many classes you can take a time and whether or not a full-time college course load is affordable.
- Motivation and support: Students need both ambition and support to successfully finish college. Encouragement and personal commitment help keep the finish line in sight even when challenges arise.
- Additional responsibilities: Taking care of your family and personal/mental health also play a big role here. Adding coursework on top of an already busy plate can affect college goals, so it’s important to recognize what is a realistic, manageable path to success.
For most working adults looking to go back to school, making massive schedule, financial, or personal commitment changes is not an option.
There are still ways to accelerate your education goals even if you can’t take on higher course loads or fast-paced schedules.
To graduate college faster, consider these options:
- Test out of general education courses: Bachelor degrees require 1-2 years of general education or prerequisite courses in subjects that may or may not apply to your major. Testing out of subjects that aren’t as applicable to your career not only saves you time, but also saves you money.
- Transfer credits: If you have earned credits from any previous college instruction, be sure to transfer credits to your new program. Retaking previously completed courses will waste time, money, and effort, so work with your chosen college to maximize any available credits.
Accelerated degree programs near me
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