Best Accelerated Online Associate Degree Programs of 2022

Explore the best accelerated online degree programs of 2022. Earn a degree in less time in majors like business and nursing.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on April 15, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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An accelerated associate degree covers the same content as a traditional online associate degree in a shorter period of time. Schools reduce study times in several ways, including offering associate to bachelor's degree pathway programs, condensed semester schedules, and heavier course loads. Some accelerated programs reduce the number of required general education or elective courses to save students time.

Students may choose accelerated online associate degrees for many reasons. By accelerating their training, learners may be able to save money on tuition. They can also enter the workforce faster or complete their bachelor's degree in less time overall.

While many online community colleges have introduced accelerated degree programs, prospective students should ensure the faster pace works for them before committing. To complete these programs, learners may need flexible and open schedules, dedication, and self-motivation.

Here, we look more closely at accelerated online associate degrees and what they may entail.

What Can I Expect From an Accelerated Online Associate Degree Program?

Every accelerated associate degree program has its own unique format. Some programs condense the training by awarding combining associate and bachelor's degrees. Others allow learners to take more courses each semester or year.

Learners may also complete their training more quickly with self-paced courses or through transfer credits.

Prospective students can find accelerated online associate degrees in most subjects and tracks, including AA, AS, and AAS degrees. While these programs can lead graduates into the same fields and positions, they may differ in focus and approach.

For example, AA degrees emphasize humanities and interdisciplinary training, AS degrees emphasize science and analytical training, and AAS degrees emphasize practical training.

While both online and on-campus programs can be accelerated, online programs may offer more variety and flexibility. Online learning allows for asynchronous and self-paced courses, which can give students more ways to fast-track their studies.

Pros

  • Graduate and start working or continue your education more quickly
  • Complete your associate degree as part of a pathway program into a bachelor's degree
  • Save money on tuition or spend less time earning a reduced income

Cons

  • Requires an open schedule to accommodate the more intensive training
  • Fast-tracked training can be more challenging for students to complete
  • Less time to spend on extracurricular activities and the college experience

Popular Online Accelerated Associate Degree Programs

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

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Accelerated Online Associate Degree Program?

The admission requirements can vary significantly between accelerated online associate degrees. Typically, the programs require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED diploma for entry.

More competitive or challenging programs may also require applicants to possess a minimum GPA. Schools may also want candidates to have certain prerequisites from previous training to ensure they are equipped for success.

Every school has its own requirements, but the standard college application often includes college entrance exam scores, three letters of recommendation, and a college application essay.

Students also need to submit official transcripts, which can lead to transfer credits. Schools may also award college credit for life and work experience.

What Can I Do With an Accelerated Online Associate Degree?

Compared to high school graduates with no college education, graduates with accelerated associate degrees have better employment outcomes and earn higher wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), associate degree-holders earned over $150 more in median weekly wages than high school graduates and had a lower unemployment rate in 2020.

Some of the highest-paying associate degrees include air traffic controlling, radiation therapy, nuclear technician, and dental hygiene, as per the BLS. Other high-paying fields include healthcare administration and business disciplines.

An accelerated associate degree does not hurt a graduate's job prospects. In fact, employers may see greater value in candidates who completed a more challenging and intensive program.

How Do I Choose an Accelerated Online Associate Program?

Cost

When evaluating program costs, students should consider comparing online and on-campus programs, in-state and out-of-state programs, and private and public school costs. They may also look at the true program cost, which factors in the income a student loses during their studies. Accelerated online associate degree students often stop working temporarily, but they can quickly join the workforce.

Program Format

The program format has a big impact on a student's educational experience. Prospective students should weigh the pros and cons of synchronous vs. asynchronous programs and full-time vs. part-time studies. Accelerated online associate degrees may require students to have flexible schedules and a strong work ethic.

Location

Prospective students should think about location regardless of whether they choose an online or on-campus program. While most applicants factor in location for on-campus programs, online learners should not overlook where their program takes place. Many online programs feature residency requirements that learners need to complete in order to graduate.

Accreditation

According to BestColleges' online college accreditation guide, all prospective students should check to ensure the institutions they're interested in are accredited. While programmatic accreditation depends on the discipline and may not be required, all schools should have institutional accreditation. Without it, students may have trouble accessing federal financial aid, transferring credits, and gaining employment.

Student Support

When choosing a school and program, candidates should look at the student services provided to get an idea of what to expect. Specific online student services may include career services, academic support, and wellness programs. Prospective students might also consider the available mentorship programs or internships and practicums.

2022 Best Accredited Accelerated Online Associate Degree Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

West Kentucky Community and Technical College

School Information
Location Paducah, Kentucky
Graduation Rate 53%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $179
Out of State | $627

Credits to Graduate
60-68

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

WKCTC's hybrid fast track business program combines in-person bi-weekly and online courses. The two-year program embeds five certificates in subjects like advanced business administration, supervisory management, and public leadership, and culminates in an AAS in business. 

Students complete the fast track AAS as a cohort. Classes meet in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays and online for required summer sessions. The hybrid program includes both a traditional and online internship during the final summer semester.

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#2

Washtenaw Community College

School Information
Location Ann Arbor, Michigan
Graduation Rate 20%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $108-$119
Out of State | $127-$127

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

WCC's accelerated associate degree program in business prepares graduates to boost their management careers or transfer to four-year institutions. WCC boasts articulation agreements with more than 25 prestigious colleges and universities. The program suits students with at least some work experience.

Students can graduate from this accelerated associate degree program in just 17 months. The curriculum is dispersed over six-week terms instead of traditional 15-week semesters. Course topics include business communications, principles of accounting, and business law.

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#3

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

School Information
Location Clarkston, Georgia
Graduation Rate 51%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $100
Out of State | $200

Credits to Graduate
64

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Georgia Piedmont Tech offers an accelerated online associate degree in business management. The program comprises four semesters, beginning and ending in the summer. Students can also pursue an accelerated interdisciplinary studies degree with a management specialization.

The online AAS program includes the same curriculum as Georgia Piedmont Tech's standard business management degree, but in a cohort-led, accelerated format. Students explore topics like leadership, financial accounting, and HR management, culminating in a team project. 

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#4

Cleveland Community College

School Information
Location Shelby, North Carolina
Graduation Rate 39%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $171
Out of State | $705

Credits to Graduate
60-63

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

CCC offers an accelerated online associate degree program in a business concentration. Students complete courses as part of a cohort group. The accelerated AAS follows a year-round course schedule, enabling students to graduate in 16 months. 

CCC offers a fall or summer start for the hybrid business program. The curriculum includes a service-learning component through cooperative education and independent study projects. The AAS program also embeds a business and management technical certificate.

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#5

Saint Louis Community College

School Information
Location Bridgeton, Missouri
Graduation Rate 16%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $171
Out of State | $233

Credits to Graduate
37

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

STLCC offers an accelerated online general transfer studies program, providing a pathway to completing an AA degree. Students can choose from a variety of majors and subjects, completing three eight-week classes per semester in their preferred interest area.

Students can graduate from STLCC's accelerated online program in just 18 months, ready to seek entry-level employment or transfer to a four-year university. Learners enjoy support through a dedicated online advisor, online orientation, and virtual tutoring options.

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#6

Western Piedmont Community College

School Information
Location Morganton, North Carolina
Graduation Rate 43%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $76
Out of State | $268

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

WPCC's acceleration academy offers pathway programs leading to an AA degree. Students can complete two classes at a time during each eight-week term, graduating in 21 months. WPCC offers in-person and online classes in introductory college subjects like computers, government, and literature. 

WPCC holds classes year-round in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Students enjoy comprehensive support services including personal counseling, disability assistance, and career services.

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#7

Milwaukee Area Technical College

School Information
Location Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Graduation Rate 16%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | Varies by course load
Out of State | Varies by course load

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

MATC offers multiple online accelerated associate degrees, a general AA, and majors in IT network specialist, marketing, and liberal arts and sciences. Accelerated programs include online, in-person, and hybrid enrollment options. Full-time students can graduate in just one year.

MATC's IT network specialist and marketing programs feature internship requirements. Courses in the online pathway programs last for seven or eight weeks. Graduates of an accelerated AA at MATC qualify for transfer to a partnering four-year university.

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#8

SUNY Corning Community College

School Information
Location Corning, New York
Graduation Rate 33%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $211
Out of State | $346

Credits to Graduate
N/A

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

SUNY Corning Community College offers accelerated online associate degrees in business administration, human services, and criminal justice. Students must attend one weekly in-person class and online courses to complete the degree. Learners can graduate in 16 months. 

SUNY belongs to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements and maintains articulation agreements with four-year institutions including Upstate Medical University, Binghamton University, and Bellevue University.

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#9

Ogeechee Technical College

School Information
Location Statesboro, Georgia
Graduation Rate 52%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $100
Out of State | $200

Credits to Graduate
60

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

OTC offers accelerated AAS degrees in logistics, criminal justice, and hotel/restaurant/tourism management. Students can choose from online, hybrid, and in-person enrollment options to graduate in four semesters or less.

OTC does not charge additional tuition for courses exceeding 15 credits in a semester. Learners may qualify to earn placement credits for previous work and/or college experience. OTC provides comprehensive support through resources including counseling, tutoring, and career services.

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#10

Moberly Area Community College

School Information
Location Moberly, Missouri
Graduation Rate 33%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $93
Out of State | $233

Credits to Graduate
75

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Missouri State Board of Nursing

MACC offers an accelerated associate degree in nursing, combining online classes with in-person clinical practicum requirements. Graduates qualify to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. The accelerated program spans 12 months.

The annual application deadline is Sept. 1. Applicants must possess a cumulative GPA of at least 2.7 and satisfy general education and nursing prerequisites. Graduates of the accelerated ADN who also pass the licensing exam may matriculate to a BSN program at a partnering four-year institution. 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Accelerated Online Associate Degree Programs

What is an accelerated online degree?

An accelerated online degree provides the same credential as a traditional online associate degree in a shorter period of time. These degrees reduce study times by accommodating heavier course loads, self-paced studies, more transfer credits, and fewer general education credits or electives.

Similar to traditional degrees, accelerated associate degrees lead to entry-level careers in many fields. They also provide an excellent educational foundation for students to build on with more advanced degrees.

Is an accelerated associate degree worth it?

Yes. An accelerated associate degree can be very valuable for many graduates. According to the BLS, associate-level training leads to better job opportunities and higher earnings than a high school diploma alone. Accelerated associate degree programs also have shorter completion times, which can allow graduates to enter the workforce more quickly.

In general, associate degrees can also save transfer students money. Rather than pay the tuition rates at four-year schools for an entire bachelor's degree, learners can earn an associate degree at a less expensive community college and then transfer into a bachelor's program.

Can I get an associate degree online?

Yes. Many schools offer traditional associate degree and accelerated associate degree programs online. In fact, online learning tends to be more flexible when it comes to accelerated associate degree programs. For example, online students have access to asynchronous and self-paced training.

In addition to entirely online associate degrees, students can access hybrid degrees, which combine online and on-campus training. Online students have access to programs both in state and out of state, but they should be aware of any residency requirements that might limit how far out they can search.

Can you get an associate degree in one year?

Yes. Most associate degrees take two years, and most accelerated associate degrees take approximately 18 months to complete. However, some schools offer one-year accelerated associate degree programs.

These courses of study condense training to one year in various ways, such as by allowing learners to take more courses in a semester or fast-track their studies with self-paced training.

Students with a high number of transfer credits can also complete an associate degree in approximately one year. Some pathway programs allow degree-seekers to complete an associate degree in one year if they plan to transfer to a bachelor's degree program.

What is the quickest a student can earn an accelerated associate degree?

In general, the fastest associate degree programs last about one year. However, it is far more common to find 15- to 18-month accelerated associate degree programs.

Schools that accommodate transfer credits for previous training and work experience may allow students to condense their programs in other ways. Before settling on an accelerated associate degree program, prospective students should ensure their school and program has the appropriate institutional and programmatic accreditation.

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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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