An accelerated degree program may be a viable choice for students who wish to earn a college degree without spending long years in the classroom. These programs, often offered online, can lead to a diploma in as little as a year.

Traditionally, students spend four years earning a bachelor’s degree or two years for an associate’s degree. Master’s degrees vary but generally take about two years as well. An accelerated degree program can cut that time by as much as fifty percent, saving time and money.

Accelerated degree programs are not for everyone. They can require a higher level of motivation and dedication than a more traditional program, and classes need a greater commitment of time and energy over the short term.

An accelerated degree program is worth considering for those wishing to enter the workforce as quickly as possible. They are a good option for career-changers and adult learners looking for flexible and cost-effective educational opportunities and who have a clear idea of what they wish to study. Read on to find out more about the types of accelerated degree programs and how they work.

The Different Types of Accelerated Degree Programs

Accelerated degree programs can be found in a broad range of academic subjects and come in several varieties. Choosing the right option for your situation is important in ensuring you have the best educational experience possible.

In-person vs. online

In-person accelerated programs share similarities with traditional degree-granting programs: you attend classes on campus and may live on campus. You can interact with your peers and professors and enjoy the ambiance of a college campus in session. However, your classes will probably follow a different schedule from traditional schedules. Your classes may be accelerated: meeting each time for a greater number of hours spread over a shorter period of time. While a regular semester is often 15-16 weeks, your class period may be only 5-7 weeks long. You may also attend classes year-round, including the summer.

Anywhere that has an internet connection can be used to complete an online accelerated degree course, whether it is your home office or a local coffee shop. You’ll meet either synchronously (at a predetermined time) or asynchronously (whenever it is convenient for you). These models allow for much more flexibility than in-person programs. As is true of the in-person programs, online accelerated degree programs are likely to meet more frequently and during the summer months. Although you should be able to connect with peers and professors through the program’s computer interface, you won’t see these people in person. However, there may be in-person introductory sessions you’ll need to attend or in-person internships.

Hybrid programs feature both types of classes: online and in person. Students in a hybrid program have all the benefits of in-person learning but can also take advantage of online courses for some of their classwork. Oftentimes, programs or courses that have lab components or fieldwork requirements are offered in hybrid format so students can get the necessary hands-on experience in their areas of study. Because of the in-person component, they will need to attend a college or university near their home.

Single degree vs. dual degree

Single-degree programs are just what they sound like: a course of studies that leads to a single degree, such as a bachelor of science. Although there may be electives in other fields, much of the coursework will be related to your chosen degree program.

Some accelerated programs offer the opportunity to earn dual degrees: two degrees in related subjects. This might be two bachelor’s degrees, a combined bachelor/master’s degree, or some other combination.

Common dual degree programs include a foreign language degree combined with international studies, criminal justice, and psychology or an MBA combined with a law degree. Dual degrees are also common in healthcare fields, including, most commonly, RN to BSN programs. Choosing a dual degree combination can help lead to a satisfying and lucrative position.

Keep in mind that a dual degree isn’t the same as a double major. With the latter, you earn a single degree with two specializations. A dual degree, meanwhile, leads to two separate degrees.

Accelerated Degree Program Requirements

Requirements for accelerated degree programs vary depending on the program and the school. For a bachelor’s or master’s level accelerated program, you may need to have a minimum GPA from any associate-level studies — this will generally be 3.0 or higher, but each school is different. If your grades don’t meet the minimum requirements set by the program, you may need to re-take the course. As accelerated programs pack a semester’s worth of content in a shortened timeline, colleges want to ensure their incoming students will be able to handle the academics.

You may also need to show that you’ve taken specific courses related to your field of study, and there may be a required number of transfer credits.

When you apply for your accelerated degree, you will be given a list of requirements that must be submitted, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, or personal essays. In all likelihood, the requirements will be similar to those for non-accelerated programs.

How Much Do Accelerated Degree Programs Cost?

It’s possible to save money with accelerated degree programs since you will be attending college or university for less time than students in regular programs. This means you could potentially save on housing fees if you choose to live on campus; if the program is online, you will also save on transportation costs.

With some undergraduate-to-graduate level programs, schools charge a lower undergraduate rate for some or all of the graduate-level courses, which would otherwise be more costly. If the college charges by the term rather than by the credit hour, you will also see savings, since you will attend for fewer terms than regular students.

Tuition fees vary greatly depending on the school. State colleges and universities are usually less costly than private schools. However, state schools often have different tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, so your location may affect your tuition. In addition to tuition fees, note that you will also have costs for textbooks, lab fees, or other campus fees.

Of course, you can save significantly by accessing grants, scholarships, and loans for which you are eligible. Promptly submitting your FAFSA is the best way to get that process started. Generally, you should be eligible for any financial aid for which regular students apply, such as the federal Pell Grant, federal student loans, and state-provided grant programs. Your chosen school’s financial aid office is an excellent resource for finding school-specific funding.

Is an Accelerated Degree Program the Right Choice for You?

Accelerated degree programs have definite benefits. They can save money and time, offer flexible scheduling options, and allow you to enter the job force more quickly and with more skills than you would otherwise have. They can be a good choice for adults returning to school or those who want to change their careers.

Accelerated programs are best for students with a high level of motivation. They feature heavier workloads and take up a significant amount of time when classes are in session. Depending on the program, you may not be able to take a break during the summer months. But they are worth considering if you want to earn your degree in as little time as possible, with the possibility of saving money in the process. Whether you take classes in person or online, working toward a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, it pays to consider an accelerated degree program to jump-start your career.

Interested in a degree instead?

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