Is an Accelerated Degree Program Right for Me?

Accelerated degree programs offer flexible options that enable motivated students to graduate in less time and enter the workforce more quickly.

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by Juliann Scholl, Ph.D.

Published on May 5, 2022

Reviewed by Lonnie Woods III

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Is an Accelerated Degree Program Right for Me?
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Many top online schools offer accelerated degree programs for working adults and other students looking to complete their degrees more quickly. These programs allow them to graduate ahead of schedule with a degree that reflects the same rigor as a traditional program.

Traditional bachelor's or master's degree programs can be too costly and time-consuming for many professionals. These programs might not provide the flexibility that some need to pursue their education and enter the workforce promptly.

The accelerated timeline typically means lower tuition rates and fewer additional costs associated with higher education. However, students can generally expect the same amount of coursework and adherence to comparable academic standards, so they should be prepared for a higher workload each week and a year-round course load.

Self-motivated people, especially those who have already accumulated 30-60 college credits, might consider accelerated programs. These degrees might also appeal to students who can earn credits for previous work experience and professionals who want to further their education, switch careers, or expand their job prospects.

What Is an Accelerated Degree Program?

Online accelerated programs are condensed degree programs that allow students to take courses that support their professional goals and scheduling demands. Many offer asynchronous classes, enabling learners to complete their assignments and exams at their own pace within a set period.

Most traditional postsecondary classes last 15-16 weeks. Full-time bachelor's degree students need 4-5 years to complete all required courses. In contrast, accelerated degree programs offer compressed classes that last 5-10 weeks. Students take 1-2 classes at a time. Instead of following a two-semester structure with breaks, students can take accelerated classes throughout the year. This arrangement allows students to earn a four-year degree in 2-3 years.

Traditional and accelerated curricula generally do not differ in content, structure, or academic rigor. While online students typically do not attend on-campus classes, their programs might require them to participate in orientations or seminars in person. Prospective students might look for schools nearby to take advantage of networking opportunities or avoid paying out-of-state tuition.

Many schools offer accelerated degrees in computer science, management, data analytics, liberal arts, communication, cybersecurity, and several interdisciplinary studies. Professionals switching to healthcare careers can apply to accelerated nursing programs or earn other degrees in this field. Degree levels for online accelerated programs range from associate to doctorate degrees.

Pros and Cons of Accelerated Degree Programs

Accelerated courses and degree programs typically work well for people with prior work, military, or volunteer experience. Most successful students have also earned an associate degree or have 30-60 college credits that they can apply toward their accelerated degree.

These programs also suit many individuals who juggle family obligations or need to schedule classes around their work schedules. Students who want to graduate and enter the workforce quickly might find accelerated courses more attractive than individuals who want to take more time to enjoy the traditional college experience.

Students in an accelerated program should be prepared to dedicate more time each week to their studies than in a traditional online program.

Pros

Cons

Why Choose an Accelerated Degree Program?

People who want to enter the workforce quickly might find accelerated degree programs attractive. Many of these individuals already hold jobs, want to change careers, or desire professional advancement. Some professionals might want to complete a degree program they once started or wish to pursue an advanced degree. Other individuals see an accelerated degree as a quick way to change their career path.

Individuals who wish to graduate in a relatively short amount of time should have a clear idea of their major and career goals. Regardless of education and background, students considering an online accelerated degree increase their likelihood of success if they possess a strong work ethic and can motivate themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions About Accelerated Programs

How do I find an accelerated degree program?

Many resources exist to help prospective students find top-notch accelerated degree programs. Individuals can search college or university websites to find accelerated courses or bachelor's or master's degrees. Also, an online search for the top schools that offer accelerated classes can yield several options.

Students should look for programs in institutions with the appropriate accreditation, which verifies that they meet and exceed academic requirements and standards for rigor.

Are accelerated degrees as valuable as traditional degrees?

Accelerated degrees from accredited institutions generally hold the same prestige and credibility as degrees from traditional schools. Although few employers ask whether job candidates received their degree online, individuals should not feel compelled to hide that they graduated from an accelerated program.

Given that earning such a degree often implies ambition and a strong work ethic on the student's part, a prospective employer might view accelerated programs in a positive light.

How much do accelerated degree programs cost?

Bachelor's degree students pay $300-600 per credit hour for most accelerated courses. Tuition will likely be higher at a private school or if enrollees pay out-of-state rates. Overall, the cost of an online accelerated degree might be less than a traditional one because students would not pay for housing or parking. However, they might pay more in assessment or technology fees.

Students should consider the true cost of an online program to determine how miscellaneous expenses and forgone income will impact the affordability of their degree.

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.

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