How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Fast

Want to get your degree fast? Learn the quickest ways to get a bachelor's degree using accelerated formats, summer courses, and transfer credits.
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Bachelor's degrees typically take four years to earn, though many students take even longer to graduate. But what if you want to get your degree in fewer than four years?

Whether you are switching careers or have financial or personal limitations that require you to finish school fast, you can reduce your time to a degree using the strategies listed below.

By taking advantage of accelerated programs, summer courses, dual-enrollment programs, transfer credits, and custom degree plans, you may be able to complete your degree and join the workforce in just 2-3 years.

Featured Online Bachelor's Degree Programs

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

Choose an Accelerated Program

One of the quickest ways to get a bachelor's degree is to enroll in an accelerated program. These programs are designed to take three years or less to complete.

Accelerated programs often involve transferring credits from previous coursework or Advanced Placement classes, as well as summer coursework and a full, rigorous course load throughout the year. Classes may also be condensed into shorter timeframes than the typical academic quarter or semester.

Utilize Transfer Credits

Completing an associate degree or transferring college credits completed at another school can also significantly speed up the time it takes to earn a bachelor's degree.

Schools often have established credit transfer systems and streamlined options for associate-holders so you can jump right into the courses required for your major, skipping many general education courses and prerequisites. Even transferring just a few courses worth of credits can make a difference in how quickly you graduate.

Take Summer Courses

You may be used to having the summer off as a student, but if you're open to hitting the books instead of hitting the beach when the weather turns warm, you may be able to shorten your college timeline considerably.

Summer courses are usually condensed into fewer weeks than courses in the fall or spring, but these courses may still offer the same number of credits as a longer class. The intensive pace may not be for everyone, but if you hope to get your bachelor's degree fast, look into this option at your school.

Take Advantage of Dual-Enrollment Programs

If you're reading this and still in high school, you may be in luck — one effective way to get a bachelor's degree fast is to participate in a dual-enrollment program. These programs allow high schoolers to earn credit for high school completion and college credits at the same time.

Students may take classes at their high school or at a nearby community college, college, or university that partners with their school. If students are diligent about taking as many dual-enrollment courses as possible, they may have enough credits by the time they finish high school to start college as sophomores or juniors.

Create a Custom Degree Plan

Most bachelor's programs have a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to prerequisites and required courses needed to complete the major. However, custom degree plans are tailored to your specific goals and interests.

If your school offers this option, you may be able to shorten the time it takes to earn your bachelor's degree by strategically selecting your courses and making sure they are aligned with your custom degree requirements.

You may also be able to earn college credits through prior learning assessments and can shape your degree plan around these credits.

Fastest Bachelor's Degree Programs

The fastest bachelor's degree programs are designed to be accelerated. Online accelerated programs are often the fastest option. Students can take advantage of asynchronous and self-paced course formats to help them move through the coursework efficiently.

Most of the tips to earn your degree quickly listed above apply to just about any field — liberal arts, engineering, science, computer science, accounting, business, marketing, nursing, social work, healthcare... you name it.

When deciding how to quickly earn your degree, consider your schedule and goals before choosing a pathway. Whether you take summer courses, take advantage of dual enrollment, or create a custom degree plan, compressing a four-year degree into two or three isn't a walk in the park.

Frequently Asked Questions About Quick Online Bachelor's Degrees

Are online degree programs faster?

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Online degree programs can be faster than in-person programs but aren't always. Accelerated online programs are designed to be completed faster than the typical four-year degree pathway, usually in three years or fewer.

Some online programs may use a self-paced, competency-based approach, which can be completed quickly depending on your ability, background, and how much time you're able to devote to the program.

Can you earn a bachelor's degree in two years?

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Some accelerated bachelor's programs may be completed in two years. You may also be able to earn a bachelor's degree in two years if you already have an associate degree or have earned a significant amount of college credits through a dual-enrollment program, prior learning assessments, or previous college coursework.

What is the shortest college degree?

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The shortest college degree is typically an associate degree, which takes about two years on average to complete. Some college-level certificate programs may take just a few months to complete. Accelerated bachelor's programs are often designed as three-year programs.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed March 7, 2024. 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.

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