How Many Years is a Bachelor’s Degree?

credA bachelor’s degree is a post-secondary diploma awarded to students who complete general and major-specific coursework at undergraduate colleges or universities. C ontinuing your education after high school is highly encouraged in today’s job market. Bachelor’s degree programs are consistently linked with better career opportunities, salary potential, and job satisfaction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median weekly earnings for bachelor’s degree holders is $1,137, which is significantly higher than the $678 for high school grads. Baccalaureate-level unemployment is also lower-than-average at 2.8 percent. Committing time to attaining your bachelor’s can pay off wonderfully. Here are the types of bachelor’s program you may choose depending upon the length of time you would like to spend pursuing a degree:

Traditional Bachelor’s Degrees

Traditionally, bachelor’s programs beginning in the freshman year will require completing about 120 credit hours. Full-time learners can hypothetically finish this coursework in eight semesters or four academic years. Despite popular belief, undergraduates don’t always graduate within the allotted four years. Perhaps students change their major, select an overly rigorous field, take off for an internship, or encounter unexpected interruptions. These can extend bachelor’s programs beyond the four-year timeline. A report from Complete College America found that only 36 percent of students complete their bachelor’s in four years. Most universities allow six to eight years for part-time learners to graduate.

Bachelor’s Degree Completion Programs

For individuals already holding an associate degree, bachelor’s degree completion programs are available to shorten your college expedition. This curriculum follows a general 2+2 format with two years at an affordable junior college or trade school before transfer. Universities will accept anywhere from 60 to 75 credits to speed up your bachelor’s degree. Going this route can save you thousands of tuition dollars. Students who complete an associate first often can fulfill general education requirements while discovering their career calling. However, bachelor’s degree completion programs may be problematic. Since some credits might not transfer, you could be left repeating classes and attending beyond the two years.

Accelerated Online Bachelor’s Degrees

More universities are offering accelerated online bachelor’s degrees to place students on the fast track to career success. Depending on its schedule, the accelerated program could be completed in just 18 to 36 months. This becomes possible because students hasten their learning with six-week, eight-week, or 10-week sessions. Rather than follow the traditional semester schedule with summers off, accelerated students attend year-round. Cutting out downtime will likely reduce the cost of attendance. Online classes are accessible 24/7 in interactive virtual classrooms for scheduling flexibility too. Nonetheless, accelerated bachelor’s degrees still require the same number of credits though. Jamming coursework into shorter terms can be overwhelming for some, especially full-time working adults.

Joint Bachelor’s/Master’s Programs

Another learning option for undergraduates is the joint bachelor’s/master’s program. Over five years full-time, joint programs allow students to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s and master’s degree concurrently. These programs are especially popular in engineering, accounting, counseling, and management. High-achieving students can begin taking the master’s-level coursework beginning their senior year. Certain courses overlap to reduce the time normally required to complete a two-year master’s program too. But most universities reserve dual degrees to students with minimum cumulative major GPAs of 3.5. Those who qualify and want to enter fields where a master’s is preferred should consider these degrees.

As you can see, how many years a bachelor’s degree takes can range from two to six or more depending on various factors. Rising college tuition makes it necessary to finish your education quickly. Consider the above accelerated degree programs available. Maintain the heaviest course load possible while still achieving a high GPA. Minimize the number of non-enrollment periods that can break up your schooling. Also, ask your academic advisor about credits offered for work experience, military service, or standardized tests like the CLEP. Following these tips could help you graduate within the desired four years or less!