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Accelerated bachelor’s degrees have become an increasingly popular way for students to earn this in-demand and rewarding degree in as little time as possible. But given the volume of options, finding the program that’s right for you can be a challenging process. That’s why created this list of picks for the best online schools offering accelerated bachelor’s degrees in 2023.

To create this list, our research team compared and evaluated dozens of schools on the basis of cost, program availability, retention and graduation rates, rankings, and more. We also interviewed college admissions advisor Blanca Villagomez, a program counselor and coordinator at UC-Irvine and independent college admissions counselor Dana Marvin for their insights into what students need to know about accelerated online bachelor’s degrees and the steps students should take when selecting a program. Finally, we answered students’ most frequently asked questions about the costs, value, and duration of accelerated bachelor’s degrees.

What You Should Know About Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees

For students prioritizing the quick completion of their degree, an accelerated bachelor’s degree may seem like the ideal solution. In many cases, it is. But there are some key points to keep in mind about how accelerated bachelor’s degrees work and how to find a quality program.

Pacing and workload

In order to earn a bachelor’s degree, students must complete a minimum of 120 college credits. Traditional bachelor’s programs are typically designed to be completed in four years of full-time study, with students completing a minimum of 30 credits per academic year.

Accelerated bachelor’s programs are a fast-track to earning a bachelor’s, Villagomez says, compressing those 120 credits into a shortened time frame through a variety of methods. This can include accepting a higher number of previously earned credits, faster-paced classes, more classes per term, and fewer breaks in the academic calendar.

However, Villagomez offers some words of caution for students considering an accelerated degree.

“There are no shortcuts with this route,” she says. “Students are expected to complete the same amount of work as they would in a traditional program in a shorter time frame. They require a higher investment of time and energy every week. Therefore, I usually only recommend them to individuals with strong time management skills, dedication, and discipline.”

Degree completion programs

Many programs that advertise themselves as accelerated are actually degree completion programs, which are designed for students who have already earned some college credits. By accepting up to half of the required credits for a bachelor’s degree, these types of programs allow students to finish their bachelor’s in as little as two years or less.

Each school sets its own policies for degree completion programs, but generally speaking, to be eligible, students need a minimum of 30 college credits. However, some programs accept as many as 90 credits or ¾ of a bachelor’s degree.

Class schedules

Because of their fast-paced nature, accelerated programs typically rely on asynchronous classes. There are no scheduled class meetings with this delivery format. Instead, students can access pre-recorded lectures, videos, and reading assignments anytime, allowing them to complete their schoolwork on the schedule that’s most convenient for them.

While the flexibility of asynchronous classes make learning more accessible, students must be comfortable learning autonomously and have strong self-motivation, time management, and discipline skills in order to be successful.


Regardless of whether you’re attending an online or brick-and-mortar school, it’s important to verify the accreditation status of any institution you’re considering attending.

There are two types of accreditation for U.S. colleges and universities, regional and national. Both are designed to assess the quality of education at institutions, although regional accredited schools are held to more rigorous standards.

One key difference is that regionally accredited institutions typically only accept credits from other regionally accredited schools. Nationally accredited institutions will generally accept credits from nationally and regionally accredited schools. This is important to keep in mind if you’re considering transferring or pursuing graduate study after earning your bachelor’s.

A school’s accreditation status can also impact your eligibility for financial aid, professional credentials, and employment opportunities.

You can usually find more information about a school’s accreditation status by visiting their website or speaking to an admissions counselor. You can also search for a school in the U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation database.

Non-profit and for-profit status

Students should also be aware of whether the schools they’re considering are non-profit or for-profit. This status can impact the quality of a school’s programs, how the institution spends its money, and your financial aid eligibility and future employment opportunities.

As the name implies, for-profit schools are designed to earn money, which may mean that providing quality education may take a backseat to boosting revenue. For-profit schools can spend their revenue however they want, which can result in underinvestment in students and resources.

Meanwhile, non-profit institutions are required to reinvest their revenue into the school, in the form of faculty and staff salaries, infrastructure, student services, and other resources. All public and many private two- and four-year colleges in the U.S. are non-profits.

All of the schools on our list are non-profits. If you’re considering a for-profit school, be sure to carefully research their business practices, graduation rates, and outcomes for graduates.

Eligibility and restrictions

While online learning has removed geographic barriers to earning a degree, there are some limitations on who can attend which schools and programs. In the U.S., institutions must be authorized by individual states to grant degrees to students living in those states. Without this authorization, non-resident students are ineligible to enroll in the institution. Currently, over 2300 institutions throughout 49 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), ensuring their distance education programs are authorized to operate and grant degrees in multiple states.

Other restrictions may apply to a student’s specific area of study. For example, teachers in the U.S. must be certified by the state in which they wish to teach. Depending on the state, students might be required to earn their degree in the state in which they want to get certified. Keep professional plans in mind when exploring your program options, and if you’re unsure of your eligibility for a particular school or program, speak to an admissions counselor for clarification.

Our Research

This list features some of the best online schools with accelerated bachelor’s degrees across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online schools with accelerated bachelor’s degrees to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

Online Schools with Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Programs That Might Interest You

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

The Top 50 Online Schools with Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees

Best Schools with Accelerated Bachelor's Degrees 2023

Campbellsville University

City University of Seattle

Utica University

SDSU Global Campus

University of Colorado Boulder

Brescia University

Aurora University

University of Arkansas Fort Smith

Cleveland State University

Biola University

Southern New Hampshire University

Bellevue University

Eastern Kentucky University

Champlain College

Albertus Magnus College

Lindenwood University

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Online Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How much does an online accelerated bachelor’s degree cost?

You may assume that a shorter bachelor’s degree program means a cheaper bachelor’s degree program, but that’s not always necessarily true. Several variables impact the cost of an online bachelor’s degree, some of which are in your control.

Tuition is the main cost associated with an online bachelor’s degree

Schools typically charge tuition as a flat per-term fee based on full-time enrollment or per credit basis. Tuition policies vary by school, but most charge the same tuition regardless of whether students attend class online, in person, or both.

Tuition prices are set by institutions and are based on their own set of factors, including:

  • Public versus private status — Tuition prices are typically lower at public universities than at private universities, based on their funding models. Public universities receive state and federal funding to help keep tuition prices affordable. Meanwhile, tuition is typically the institution’s key revenue source at private institutions.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that for the 2020-21 academic year, the average annual tuition and fees at public institutions in the U.S. was $9,735 for in-state students and $27,091 for out-of-state students. At private schools, the average tuition was $32,825.
  • Student residency status — As you can see, what you pay at a public university might also differ based on where you live. In-state students typically pay lower tuition than out-of-state students at public schools. In light of the increase in online programs, however, it’s becoming more common for schools to charge all students the same tuition rates, regardless of their residency.
  • Enrollment status — Most undergraduate programs charge tuition per term based on a full-time course load. If students take extra credits per term, which may be necessary for an accelerated program, they might have to pay additional credit fees. Meanwhile, if students enroll part-time, their per-term tuition might decrease. However, the program’s overall cost will remain similar, as all students must complete the same number of credits to earn a bachelor’s.
  • Student military status — Many schools offer discounted tuition rates for those who serve or have served in the military, and their spouses or children.

Additional costs to consider

Students in online accelerated bachelor’s programs should be aware of other costs they may incur when pursuing their degree, including:

  • Technology — Students in online degree programs must have reliable, good-quality hardware and software. This includes a desktop or laptop computer, microphone, webcam, and high-speed Internet. Depending on the specific major, you may also need certain software or hardware to learn or complete assignments.
  • Fees — Schools often charge online students additional fees for technology infrastructure, technical support, online student services, and more.
  • Textbooks —Whether they’re hard-copy or digital, textbooks and other instructional materials can add to the annual cost of attending college.
  • Travel costs — If there are any in-person requirements for your program, whether they take place on campus or in a different location, you should factor associated travel costs into your budget. This can include gas, parking, public transportation, overnight accommodations, and more.

Ways you can save money with an online accelerated bachelor’s degree

On the other hand, there are costs often associated with traditional in-person programs that won’t impact online students.

  • Joining the workforce sooner – One of the major selling points of an accelerated online bachelor’s degree program is that students can graduate and find employment quicker. The fewer terms a student is in school, the fewer terms they’ll be paying tuition and fees.
  • Room and board — This is another significant expense for traditional students. NCES reports that the average room and board for the 2020-21 academic year was $11,963 at public universities and $13,488 at private universities. As an online student, you won’t have to live on (or anywhere near) campus, giving you much more control over your living expenses, including housing, food, and utilities. This can mean living in an area with a lower cost of living than where the school is located.
  • Learning remotely versus commuting — Not having to travel on a consistent basis to a specific location for classes means less money spent on gas, parking, car maintenance, or public transit.
  • Flexibility —An accelerated online bachelor’s degree program may make it easier for students to maintain employment while in school. Earning a steady paycheck can help offset the cost of attending college.

Understanding a school’s tuition and payment options is a key part of the research process. You can usually find basic tuition and financial aid information on a school’s website, but don’t hesitate to contact financial aid counselors directly if you have any questions or concerns about how you’ll pay for your degree.

How long does it take to earn an online accelerated bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree requires completion of a minimum of 120 college credits. This is true whether students attend class in-person or online, in a traditional or accelerated format. Most traditional bachelor’s programs are designed to be completed with four years of full-time study. As the name implies, accelerated bachelor’s programs are shorter, but the specific duration of a program depends on a few factors.

One key factor is whether you’ve already earned credits towards a bachelor’s degree or if you’re starting from scratch. Students who previously enrolled in a bachelor’s program or already have an associate’s degree may be eligible for certain accelerated degree completion programs. These types of programs help students finish their degree as quickly as possible by accepting a maximum number of previously earned credits. Students typically finish degree completion programs in 1-2 years.

Students with no previously earned credits can enroll in an accelerated bachelor’s program that compresses the traditional four-year curriculum into a shorter time frame. These are rigorous programs that rely on requirements like faster-paced classes, maximum credit loads, year-round classes, and competency-based evaluations.

“Since each bachelor’s program is structured differently, ultimately the actual length of completing a degree depends on the school, the major, and the number of classes you take at a time,” Villagomez says.

If you’re unsure about how long it will take you to complete a specific accelerated bachelor’s degree, Villagomez recommends speaking to an admissions counselor or academic advisor.

How do I apply to an online accelerated bachelor’s degree program?

Applying to a bachelor’s degree program is typically straightforward, although each school sets its own requirements, procedures, and deadlines. It’s important to research the admissions processes for the schools you’re applying to and clarify any questions you have before starting your application.

Applying for an accelerated bachelor’s degree usually starts with submitting an application. Many schools now use the Common Application, while others have their own proprietary applications.

Completing an application for an accelerated bachelor’s degree program will also likely include submitting some or all of the following:

  • Official high school transcripts
  • Official college transcripts (if you’ve previously completed college courses)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Essays

You may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores, although increasingly, schools are moving towards test-optional or test-blind admissions processes. Specific programs may require further evaluations, like interviews, auditions, or aptitude tests.

Accelerated bachelor’s programs often have multiple start terms throughout the academic year, so it’s important to be mindful of deadlines and start dates.

Is earning an accelerated bachelor’s degree worth it?

“Earning an accelerated bachelor’s degree can be beneficial to students or working professionals who need to advance their careers on a fast-track approach,” Villagomez says.

While each individual student has their own reasons for seeking a bachelor’s degree, there are some documented benefits of earning a diploma.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn a median weekly salary of $1334. That’s $371 more per week than those with associate’s degrees ($963) and $525 more than those with only a high school diploma.

Having a bachelor’s degree can also help safeguard against unemployment. In 2021, the unemployment rate for individuals with bachelor’s degrees was 3.5%, while 6.2% of Americans with only a high school diploma were unemployed.

More jobs also require a bachelor’s degree as the minimum level of education. The BLS predicts that the average job growth for careers that require a bachelor’s degree through 2031 will be about 10%, which is much faster than average.

While all these facts make earning an accelerated bachelor’s degree seem like a no-brainer, there are other things to consider.

“Determining the worth of an accelerated online bachelor’s degree also requires a personal assessment of your needs, goals, and life circumstances,” Villagomez says. “These programs are far more rigorous [than traditional bachelor’s programs], so spend ample time conducting thorough research and evaluating the pros and cons to make an informed decision.”

Villagomez also recommends speaking with a career counselor or academic advisor to help determine if this type of program is the best fit.

How to Choose the Right Online Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Program

Below are the five key steps in selecting an online accelerated bachelor’s degree. Please note that many of these steps overlap, and some are ongoing throughout your higher education journey.

Step 1: Make sure the field of study you choose is right for you

Knowing what you want to study and whether that career path is a good fit for you will help set you up for success as you conduct your research.

“Students should be proactive in their career exploration and stay open-minded about the different ways they can receive exposure to new knowledge,” Villagomez says. “Students are often surprised when they learn that exploration is an ongoing process that takes time and intentionality.”

To help gain clarity on what type of major and career might suit you best, Villagomez recommends participating in internships or job shadowing for insight into particular industries. Joining clubs or organizations can help you dig deeper into existing interests or help spark new passions. She also recommends connecting with individuals who have the types of jobs or careers you aspire to and talking with them to learn more about their education, motivations, and advice.

Step 2: Research schools and programs

If you’re ready and able to commit to the demands of an online accelerated bachelor’s degree, there’s no shortage of programs to choose from. This can quickly become overwhelming, says Villagomez. She reminds students to stay organized and consult with a career counselor or academic advisor for help during the search process, especially since there are many factors to consider when exploring programs.

One major consideration is the school’s reputation. “During your research, look into the graduation and post-graduation employment rates of the program,” Villagomez says. “With this information, you can decide if the program has a strong reputation for helping students complete the program and succeed post-graduation.”

Researching the program’s faculty and support services will also help you determine its quality. “Due to the fast pace of an accelerated program, it’s important to know how your professors and the school will support your education and help you with any challenges you may face along the way,” Villagomez says. “Find out if they have reputations for being accessible, reliable, and supportive. Support systems vary across institutions, so understanding who you have access to is a proactive way to take care of your future self.”

Along those same lines, “Networking is an essential part of your undergraduate education,” Villagomez says. “Compare which programs offer networking opportunities to connect with professors, peers, and professionals in the field. Taking advantage of these opportunities can help you build community and advance your career post-graduation.

Students should also investigate the program’s curriculum to ensure it aligns with their future career goals. For example, if your field of study requires student teaching, an internship, or clinical residency, confirm that the program’s curriculum accounts for these in-person requirements.

Here are some other questions to ask when researching accelerated online bachelor’s programs:

  • Approximately how many hours per week will you need to dedicate to classes and homework to complete the program on time?
  • For degree completion programs, what is the maximum number of previously earned credits they’ll accept towards your bachelor’s degree?
  • What kind of opportunities are there to connect with classmates and faculty?
  • What is the overall culture of the institution?
  • What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available?

Often this information will be available on the school’s website. You can also request print or digital materials, follow schools and programs on social media, speak to admissions representatives, and attend virtual open houses for more information.

Step 3: Prepare for tests and applications

As you research programs, also take note of their application requirements and deadlines. Many accelerated online bachelor’s programs offer multiple start dates throughout the academic year. It’s best to stay on top of deadlines to ensure you can start the program when you plan to.

If you previously attended another college or colleges, contact those schools and request that they send your official transcripts to the schools you’re applying to. You’ll also want to get in touch with references such as faculty, employers, or colleagues to write letters of recommendation and prepare your application essays.

Standardized tests like the SATs and ACTs are becoming less prevalent in the college admissions process, although they’re still common on a mandatory or optional basis. If you’re planning on taking one or both of these college admissions exams, now is a good time to enroll in an ACT or SAT prep course.

Step 4: Select your program

With all this information in hand, you should be ready to select the program or programs you’ll apply to. Like most other aspects of this process, the right number of schools to apply to is based on your personal needs and preferences. Some students are only interested in one specific program, while others may apply to multiple programs to increase their chances of acceptance. Either way, taking the time to research and prepare should help you choose the online accelerated bachelor’s degree that’s right for you.

Step 5: Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

This is also the point where you’ll want to start crunching some numbers. What’s the tuition at the schools you’re applying to? What kind of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid do they offer? What additional costs, like upgrading technology, should you budget for?

Speak to a financial aid counselor to get a realistic idea of what your bill will be like each term and your options for paying it. If you need loans to help pay for school, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which the U.S. Department of Education uses to determine eligibility for federal student loans, grants, and work-study. Individual schools also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for institution-specific aid.

You can also research scholarships using tools like the Scholly app, FastWeb, and The College Board.

It’s important to be clear on what you can afford and what you’ll pay when selecting your school, according to college counselor Dana Marvin.

“I have conversations every year with students and families about how the best school is always the one that fits the needs of that particular child,” she says. “If attending a pricey college is going to put a family into major debt and require potentially dangerous financial decisions, like taking out a second mortgage, it may mean a hard conversation about choosing a different school.”

Online Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship Database

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$1,000 Excellence in Online Education Scholarships

Award Amount: $1,000

Due Date: October 15 or March 15

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1,000 Dreams Scholarship

Award Amount: $1,000

Due Date: 3/31

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AFCEA STEM Major Scholarship

Award Amount: $2,500

Due Date: May 1, 2023

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Arizona State University Scholarship

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Bemidji State University Scholarships

Award Amount: $1,000 - $2,500

Due Date: February 1, 2023

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Canyon Christian Schools Consortium Scholarship

Award Amount: $750

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Capella University Scholarships

Award Amount: $15,000

Due Date: Varies

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Christian Connector Incorporated Scholarships

Award Amount: $5,000

Due Date: Runs each year from June 1st through May 31st

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Colorado State University - Global Campus Scholarships

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eQuality Scholarship Collaborative

Award Amount: $6,000

Due Date: Varies

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Learn More About Accelerated Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Have additional questions about earning an accelerated online bachelor’s degree? Our research team and undergraduate admissions experts have answers to frequently asked questions, including the pros and cons of accelerated bachelor’s programs, how to finish a bachelor’s degree online, and the cost of an undergraduate education. You can find these resources below, along with additional information about financial aid, standardized test prep, applying to programs, and more.

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