Top Fastest Online Degrees and Accredited Programs

Want to earn your degree in less time? Discover the fastest online programs for your undergraduate or graduate degree.
By
portrait of Meg Embry
Meg Embry
Read Full Bio

Writer

Meg Embry is a writer at BestColleges covering all things career and education related. An award-winning journalist and editor, she has lived and worked in Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States....
and
portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Read Full Bio

Writer

An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D., has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a writer and consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern...
Updated on January 10, 2024
Edited by
portrait of Tyler Epps
Tyler Epps
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Tyler Epps is an editor for BestColleges. He writes and edits content about higher education, specializing in degree planning and college rankings. He is passionate about helping students prepare for college and navigate their educational journey. He...
Reviewed by
portrait of Norma Feriz-Gordon
Norma Feriz-Gordon
Read Full Bio

Reviewer & Writer

Norma Feriz-Gordon is a state-certified, bilingual, professional school counselor who works with students in grades 9-12 and their families. Norma has worked across hundreds of schools to improve school culture, address matriculation milestones, and ...
Learn more about our editorial process

www.bestcolleges.com 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.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

Time is money. That's why accelerated college programs — which take half the time of a traditional degree — are so valuable.

Not everyone can afford to spend four years in school. That's okay: We've found these super fast online college programs that will only take you 2-3 years to complete.

Forget the college marathon: Sprint to the finish line, instead.

Featured Online Bachelor's Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Top Online Degrees and Programs You Can Get Quickly

Choose a program from one of the 10 subject areas below that feels like the best fit for your interests and career goals. You can't really go wrong — each of these majors will provide you with the marketable, career-ready training you need to move forward with confidence.

1. Art and Design Programs

A fast online art or design degree is a great way to quickly monetize your creative skills (like animation, photography, or graphic design). Graphic designers made a median wage of $57,990 as of May 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Animators make a median annual salary of $98,950 (BLS, May 2022).

These programs can help you turn your passion into a career.

Featured Art and Design Programs

2. Business and Management Programs

Business programs are popular for a reason: They give you the broad business education you need to compete for high-demand, high-paying jobs across industries.

You'll have job opportunities in human resources, marketing, sales, and consulting. The median annual salary for all business occupations is $76,850 (BLS, May 2022).

Depending on your specialization, you can earn much more. For example, if you choose to specialize in finance, you can pursue an analyst role. Financial analysts earn a median annual salary of $96,220 (BLS, May 2022).

Featured Business and Management Programs

3. Computer Science and Information Technology Programs

An accelerated computer science degree is a fast way for tech-savvy students to secure jobs in the tech industry. Comp sci prepares you to work as a software engineer, web developer, or data scientist.

Speed through a fast information technology program and break into a promising new tech career. With an IT degree, you can become a software developer, information security analyst, or IT manager. Computer and IT occupations pay a median salary of $100,530 (BLS, May 2022).

Featured Computer Science and Technology Programs

4. Counseling and Human Services Programs

If you want to help others, consider one of these speedy counseling programs. You can jump into a rewarding counseling career as a youth counselor, addiction counselor, or case worker, who all earn a median salary of $49,710 (BLS, May 2022).

One of the biggest challenges for people going into helping careers is the cost/return ratio. College is expensive, and community and social services professionals make a median salary of $49,380 per year (BLS, May 2022). Counseling careers require additional education, but an accelerated human services program can help get to grad school and you launch your career faster.

Featured Counseling and Human Services Programs

Prepare to become a law enforcement officer, detective, mediator, or probation officer with a quick online degree in criminal justice. Across sectors, detectives and criminal investigators earn a median annual salary of $86,280 (BLS, May 2022).

A legal studies program provides the training you need to support lawyers and help manage disputes between parties. Some legal studies careers include paralegal, legal assistant, and arbitrator. Paralegals and legal assistants make a median salary of $59,200 (BLS, May 2022).

Featured Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Programs

6. Education and Teaching Programs

Become a teacher quickly with a bachelor's degree in education online. These programs prepare you to work in education jobs as a public or private school teacher, curriculum specialist, or community outreach specialist. For some of these careers, you may need to earn your master's degree or teaching credential after graduation.

The median pay for elementary school teachers is $61,620 per year (BLS, May 2022). For high school teachers, the median pay is $62,360 per year (BLS, May 2022).

Featured Education and Teaching Programs

7. Healthcare and Health Sciences Programs

A healthcare administration program sets you up for leadership roles in healthcare organizations. Some jobs you can get with this degree include human resources manager, consultant, and medical records specialist. The latter earns a median annual salary of $47,180 (BLS, May 2022).

An online health sciences program covers a broad variety of healthcare topics. Depending on your goals, it can qualify you for jobs like health educator, health services technician, or health services manager. Medical health and services managers earn a median salary of $104,830 per year (BLS, May 2022).

Featured Healthcare and Health Sciences Programs

8. Nursing Programs

An accelerated bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) can advance your career — and if you're already a nurse, you can earn the degree even faster with an RN-BSN accelerated program.

With a BSN, you can work as a registered nurse in whatever specialized practice area you love the most. Examples include pediatrics, critical care, psychiatry, and surgery. Registered nurses make a median annual salary of $81,220 (BLS, May 2022).

Other common accelerated nursing programs include:

  • Accelerated Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Programs
  • Accelerated Associate in Nursing (ADN) Programs
  • Accelerated Master's in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Featured Nursing Programs

9. Psychology Programs

If you've always been fascinated by the inner workings of other people, you might be interested in one of these fast psychology programs.

You can leverage that fascination into many entry-level psychology careers or go on to graduate school and then clinical work. Clinical psychologists — who need a graduate degree — make a median annual salary of $90,130 (BLS, May 2022).

Featured Psychology Programs

10. Social Sciences and Humanities Programs

From English to economics, the social sciences and humanities are popular majors. An accelerated social sciences program can prepare you for careers in education, business, social services, and other fields that require strong analytical and communication skills.

With a social sciences degree, for example, you can become a high school teacher, fundraiser, technical writer, or geographer. High school teachers earn a median pay of $62,360 per year (BLS, May 2022), while fundraisers make $61,190 (BLS, May 2022). Some of these professions, like high school teachers, may require additional education.

Featured Social Sciences and Humanities Programs

What Is an Online Accelerated Program?

An accelerated program can help you graduate faster. But what’s the difference between accelerated and traditional programs?

While an accelerated program takes less time, you’ll cover the same amount of material as a traditional program. That means you’ll have a heavier workload. And if you’re paying per credit, the cost might not differ. However, you’ll qualify for the same financial aid options if you attend an accredited institution.

Online Accelerated Programs by Degree Level

Accelerated programs are great for working adults. What degrees offer accelerated programs online? You can fast-track your degree at the associate or bachelor’s level. And even master’s and doctoral programs offer accelerated tracks.

Accelerated Associate Programs

Chevron Down

Most associate programs take two years. With an accelerated program, you’ll finish faster — and some of the fastest associate degrees can take less than a year.

Popular accelerated programs include allied health degrees like dental hygiene or radiologic technology. Or finish your bachelor’s general education requirements in an accelerated program to save time and money while pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Accelerated Bachelor's Programs

Chevron Down

Instead of spending four years earning a bachelor’s degree, you can potentially finish in half the time with the fastest bachelor’s programs.

Healthcare programs offer many accelerated bachelor’s programs in fields like nursing and healthcare administration. Or you can major in STEM, the social sciences, education, or business in a fast-track format.

Accelerated Master's Programs

Chevron Down

While most master’s programs take two years, accelerated master’s programs take as little as one year to complete. That means you’ll finish your graduate degree and enter the workforce in less time.

The most popular one-year master’s programs include accelerated MBA and education degrees. Or choose an accelerated program in social work, public health, information technology, nursing, or another field.

Accelerated Doctorate Programs

Chevron Down

Many doctoral programs take five years or more. With an accelerated doctoral program, you can finish in three years or less.

You can earn a doctorate online in business, education, or healthcare. As an online doctoral student, you’ll work with faculty mentors, conduct research, and complete a dissertation. Some programs include in-person requirements in your local area.

5 Other Popular Accelerated Degrees Programs

Many of the most popular accelerated degrees prepare graduates for in-demand careers. You can train for an allied health career or management role with these popular programs.

1. Accelerated MBA Programs

Earning an MBA generally takes two years. However, many of the top business schools offer one-year MBAs. In these programs, you’ll study accounting, marketing, finance, and other areas of business at the graduate level. The fastest online MBA programs will give you the management skills for high-paying careers.

2. Accelerated Dental Hygiene Programs

Dental hygienists report some of the highest allied health salaries. And you can become a dental hygienist with an accelerated program. Whether you’re looking for an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, you can fast-track your education. And you’ll also have the option of online dental hygiene programs.

3. Accelerated Medical Assistant Programs

Medical assistants keep healthcare facilities running smoothly by managing administrative tasks. While an online associate degree in medical assisting typically takes two years, the fastest programs take less time. You can earn an accelerated certificate or associate degree to launch your medical assistant career.

4. Accelerated Radiologic Technology Programs

Radiology techs report a median pay of $67,180 per year with an associate degree (BLS, May 2022). And while traditional programs take two years to complete, you can graduate faster with an accelerated radiologic technology program.

Or you can earn a bachelor’s in radiologic technology online to advance your career opportunities.

5. Accelerated Physician Assistant (PA) Programs

Physician assistants can diagnose and treat patients with a master’s degree. Traditional physician assistant programs can take longer than three years. But with an accelerated option, you can graduate in as little as two years.

That means you’ll enter this high-paying field faster — physician assistants report a median annual salary of $126,010 (BLS, May 2022).

More Featured Online Bachelor's Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Should You Choose an Online Accelerated Program?

Is an accelerated online program right for you? Accelerated programs move fast. And that means you’ll need time in your schedule for school.

When researching accelerated programs, ask about the time commitment. Some online accelerated programs design the curriculum for working students, while others recommend not working while pursuing a degree.

Before enrolling in an accelerated program, consider your learning style and preferences. Accelerated programs typically require self-motivation and commitment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Online Degrees Fast

How much do accelerated online programs typically cost?

Chevron Down

Generally, tuition for accelerated online degree programs ranges from $300-$600 per credit, and most degree programs require a minimum of 120 credits for graduation. Public schools tend to offer less expensive tuition than private schools. In some cases, online students face additional costs like technology fees.

How long do online accelerated programs take to complete?

Chevron Down

Most accelerated online bachelor's programs take 18-24 months to complete. Accelerated programs may require you to take courses during the summer or other breaks to finish on time.

Schools design fast programs to cover the same amount of material as traditional programs in less time. It's an intensive commitment that requires a lot of planning, preparation, and grit.

Can you earn an online degree faster than one year?

Chevron Down

Typically, no. However, some students are able to get through an accelerated program in just 12 months by treating the program like a full-time job, working through the summer, and taking two or more courses at once.

What is an accelerated nursing program?

Chevron Down

An accelerated nursing program helps nurses enter the workforce faster. The fastest nursing programs take as little as one year. For example, registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma can earn a bachelor’s in nursing in as little as one year with an online RN-to-BSN program. You can also find accelerated graduate programs in nursing.

Accelerated nursing programs are among the most popular accelerated programs. With high demand for nurses, these programs help meet the country’s healthcare needs.

Page last reviewed on December 19, 2023.

BestColleges.com 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.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.