What Is An Accelerated Degree Program?

Lara Vukelich picture
Lara Vukelich
Updated June 23, 2021

Unsure of the benefits of earning a college degree? People with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $400 more per week than people with a high school diploma, and an advanced degree can open up even more career possibilities. 

These factors certainly make high education appealing — but do you really have the time to pursue a degree ? If you choose an accelerated schedule, achieving a degree may be closer within reach than you thought. 

Many potential students believe the only way to earn a degree is by attending school full-time for four years. But modern accelerated degree programs can cut the time it takes to earn a degree in half. If you are serious about attending college but don’t have four years to get it done, you may want to become familiar with the differences between a standard degree program and an accelerated degree program. Read on to understand accelerated programs and institutions so that you can make the right decision.

Accelerated Degree Program Vs. Standard Degree Program

The amount of time it takes to earn your degree is based on the type of degree you are pursuing. If you are pursuing an associate’s degree from a traditional school, you would expect to commit two years to the program full-time. With a school offering the accelerated alternative, you may be able to complete the program in 18 months. If you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you can take one year off of the traditional four years and earn your degree in three years. Many schools also offer accelerated master’s degree programs that can be completed in 12 to 18 months with a bachelor’s degree.

The primary difference between a traditional program and a fast track option is how quickly the curriculum is covered. Most of these programs are still accredited, so you will have peace of mind in knowing that the program meets the standards of reputable accrediting bodies. While admissions can be competitive with any type of school program, because the coursework is so intensive on the fast track, your prior academic performance may be more important when you apply for an accelerated degree program.

Various Types of Accelerated Degree Programs

As you start to research accredited programs, you should distinguish between single degree and dual-degree options. If you want to earn a degree in a specific field, the single degree program may be right for you. This type of program typically condenses the time it takes to finish each course so that students earn more credits each year. 

Single degree programs also typically offer shorter breaks in between each course, and many offer flexible scheduling on the weekends or at night. Some single degree options even offer online courses for added convenience.

A dual degree is another option if your goal is to earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree. The work you complete toward your first degree will also go toward the prerequisites that you must have under your belt to earn a master’s degree in the field as well. 
Concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are an option if you want a master’s in five years, or if you want a doctoral degree, earning a master’s degree en route is an alternative.

Programs That Offer Accelerated Degree Paths

Associate’s degree in general studies

Getting an associate’s degree in general studies prepares you to undertake an undergraduate degree later on. You can get ready for your next degree by earning 60 credits in courses ranging from public speaking to biology. Some accelerated associate’s degrees can be completed in as little as 11 months.

Bachelor of arts

A bachelor of arts tends to focus on arts, humanities, or soft science studies. These programs include a bachelor of arts in political science from Boston University and a bachelor of arts in English from Creighton University. You can complete the coursework, often online, in about half the time of a traditional degree. 

Bachelor of science

Bachelor of science programs focus on math and science. Despite their rigorous coursework, you can still generally complete an accelerated version of these degrees. Options include a bachelor of science in mathematics from schools like Arizona State University, Indiana University, and Lamar University. You can also find accelerated programs in engineering, biology, and more. 

Graduate Programs

When a school offers an accelerated bachelor’s degree program, they often add an accelerated master’s degree in the same field. Depending on the program, you may be able to complete both in the time it would typically take to finish an undergraduate degree. 

Whatever program that you choose, be sure that the program is accredited. By holding an accreditation, the program meets the standards of agencies that oversee curriculum, student to teacher ratio, and academic achievement regardless of the program layout. By completing an accelerated program, you can save off of the average cost of attendance and put the degree to work faster. Compare the options, save time, and ultimately save money while you earn your degree.

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