Is an Accelerated Degree Worth It?

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Accel­er­at­ed degrees take about half the time of tra­di­tion­al pro­grams and can cost sig­nif­i­cant­ly less.
  • These pro­grams have a more con­densed cur­ricu­lum, which means a heav­ier work­load in a short­er period.
  • Grad­u­at­ing faster allows you to enter the work­force soon­er, which can be ben­e­fi­cial for gain­ing expe­ri­ence and income.
  • While accel­er­at­ed degrees are gen­er­al­ly well-regard­ed by employ­ers, the key is choos­ing a rep­utable, accred­it­ed pro­gram.

Accel­er­at­ed degree pro­grams have grown in pop­u­lar­i­ty over the past cou­ple of years, with many peo­ple pre­fer­ring this for­mat over the tra­di­tion­al style. That said, while both con­ven­tion­al and accel­er­at­ed pro­grams end with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, the learn­ing type is different.

But are all accel­er­at­ed degrees worth it? How respect­ed are these cer­ti­fi­ca­tions by employ­ers when you are look­ing for a job? In this arti­cle, you will find out more about that mat­ter and deter­mine whether or not accel­er­at­ed degrees are worth it for your purpose.


What Is an Accelerated Degree?

As the name sug­gests, accel­er­at­ed pro­grams allow you to get your hands on a diplo­ma faster. Whether you are look­ing for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, these pro­grams take around half the time to com­plete since the accel­er­at­ed degree work­load is more con­densed. You may be get­ting few­er vaca­tions with these pro­grams (i.e., class­es can take place dur­ing sum­mer), but the diplo­ma is released quickly.

Benefits of Accelerated Education

A fast-track bachelor’s degree or master’s pro­gram comes with var­i­ous advan­tages, includ­ing the following:

1. Time Efficiency

Accel­er­at­ed pro­grams offer access to the most time-effi­cient degrees, as they take around half the time of a tra­di­tion­al pro­gram to get your degree. That’s because your class­es are more inten­sive, focus­ing on the learn­ing curve and the most rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion for your field. Since class­es also take place dur­ing sum­mer and when tra­di­tion­al stu­dents get their vaca­tion, you’ll be able to get your degree quickly.

2. Cost Effectiveness

One of the most sig­nif­i­cant advan­tages of such pro­grams is the mon­ey you will save by opt­ing for them. The cost of accel­er­at­ed degrees is gen­er­al­ly 50% of what you would have to pay for the tra­di­tion­al pro­gram, as class­es are cut in half. Since the course­work is all con­densed, you won’t have to pay as much on tuition, with the aver­age pro­gram cost­ing around $10,000-$20,000 per year. Plus, since most class­es are online or in hybrid for­mat, you will not have to pay as much for cam­pus life.

3. Early Workforce Entry

One of the biggest advan­tages of accel­er­at­ed pro­grams is that you can enter the work­force much faster than by fol­low­ing the tra­di­tion­al path. This can be help­ful for you, as employ­ers are look­ing for expe­ri­ence rather than degrees. If your goal is to get a spe­cif­ic role by the time you reach a cer­tain age, then an accel­er­at­ed degree can help you get there much faster.


Accelerated Degree Challenges

Accel­er­at­ed pro­grams are quite advan­ta­geous for those who want to get their hands on a degree much faster, but there are some chal­lenges to con­sid­er. The most com­mon are the following:

1. Higher Workload

The course­work of accel­er­at­ed degrees is often more inten­sive. Going through the cur­ricu­lum at an accel­er­at­ed rate does not mean you will study less. It means that you will have to cov­er the same mate­ri­als but at a faster rate. Some stu­dents can find it chal­leng­ing to keep up with, espe­cial­ly if they have oth­er com­mit­ments such as a fam­i­ly or a job.

2. Less Extracurricular Time

While accel­er­at­ed degrees offer plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties such as intern­ships or part-time jobs, they might not be as giv­ing when it comes to time. The intense course­work can leave lit­tle time to engage in these activ­i­ties, as you will spend most days study­ing. Unless you choose online accel­er­at­ed degrees with flex­i­ble sched­ules, then you might find it dif­fi­cult to get skillsets through extracur­ric­u­lar activities.

3. Potential for Stress and Burnout

Burnout is quite com­mon in tra­di­tion­al pro­grams and can become even more severe dur­ing accel­er­at­ed pro­grams. Some stu­dents might find the pace rather stress­ful, espe­cial­ly when they have to deal with tight dead­lines. If these stu­dents also try to bal­ance a job with these class­es, their stress lev­els can increase, lead­ing to men­tal exhaustion.

Comparing Accelerated vs. Traditional Degrees

Despite a few sim­i­lar­i­ties, accel­er­at­ed and tra­di­tion­al degrees have their dif­fer­ences, espe­cial­ly in terms of:

· Duration

A tra­di­tion­al bachelor’s degree pro­gram lasts around four years, where­as the typ­i­cal master’s diplo­ma can be obtained in two. This can make it rather com­pli­cat­ed for some­one need­ing a diplo­ma fast (e.g., seek­ing a pro­mo­tion). Accel­er­at­ed bachelor’s degrees take about two to three years, after which you can get your diplo­ma. On the oth­er hand, accel­er­at­ed master’s pro­grams can be com­plet­ed in one year or less.

· Cost

Tuition is one of the high­est con­cerns when it comes to get­ting a degree. Most uni­ver­si­ties charge an aver­age tuition of around $40,000 per year, and the cost can go even high­er if you opt for an Ivy League school. This does not include the fees you would have to pay for lodg­ing dur­ing your four years of uni­ver­si­ty. Since accel­er­at­ed pro­grams have a short­er time span, you would spend around $20,000 per year, poten­tial­ly sav­ing on accom­mo­da­tion as well.

· Learning Environment

Tra­di­tion­al bachelor’s degree pro­grams offer a mix of sem­i­nars, lec­tures, and per­haps extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties that stu­dents can engage in. Most lessons take place with­in a class­room, where stu­dents can eas­i­ly get hands-on expe­ri­ence of what is taught. On the oth­er hand, adult learn­ers’ accel­er­at­ed pro­grams have a faster pace and are usu­al­ly offered online or in a hybrid for­mat. While the con­densed cur­ricu­lum leaves less time for extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties, it is often rec­om­mend­ed for those who want to study from a distance.

· Potential Outcomes

With an accel­er­at­ed pro­gram, you get slight­ly more flex­i­ble for­mats that allow you to keep your day job or get your degree faster. This can lead to high­er earn­ing poten­tial, espe­cial­ly when you are look­ing for career oppor­tu­ni­ties with accel­er­at­ed degrees. Con­verse­ly, tra­di­tion­al degrees offer a high­er poten­tial for intern­ships and net­work­ing because you will stay on campus.

· Education Quality

For the most part, there are few­er dif­fer­ences between the pro­grams when it comes to qual­i­ty. The only con­di­tion is to choose a course and insti­tu­tion accred­it­ed by a rep­utable body. The fac­ul­ty exper­tise is also rel­e­vant, which means you should pay close atten­tion to accel­er­at­ed degree suc­cess sto­ries. The rest mere­ly depends on the student’s abil­i­ty to go through this fast-paced style.

Who Should Consider an Accelerated Degree?

Accel­er­at­ed degrees are very use­ful and can be obtained quite fast, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea. For the most part, high­ly moti­vat­ed stu­dents who can han­dle a fast-paced envi­ron­ment will like­ly thrive in this kind of pro­gram. This learn­ing method might also fit your needs if you have a clear career goal (i.e., enter­ing the work­force fast or get­ting promoted).

Adult learn­ers and work­ing pro­fes­sion­als should keep in mind that time man­age­ment is of the essence. If you have a job along­side your stud­ies, you should look for pro­grams that have flex­i­ble sched­ules (evening and week­end hours, online class­es, etc.). You should also take advan­tage of poten­tial sup­port ser­vices offered by the pro­gram, such as tutor­ing, aca­d­e­m­ic advis­ing, and career counseling.

Career Implications of an Accelerated Degree

For the most part, the employer’s per­cep­tion of accel­er­at­ed degrees is a good one. Nowa­days, most com­pa­nies are look­ing for expe­ri­ence and skills, so the diplo­ma is just a formality.

How­ev­er, the over­all opin­ion depends on the qual­i­ty of the edu­ca­tion you get. If the degree was received after enrolling in an accred­it­ed bachelor’s pro­gram, then you have a high chance of career advance­ment. If the accel­er­at­ed degree offered career pre­pared­ness, it could also make the employ­er see you in a bet­ter light. 

Financial Considerations

The finan­cial part should also be con­sid­ered when enrolling in accel­er­at­ed pro­grams. See what the tuition is and then estab­lish a pay­ment plan to be able to attend the classes.

Tuition vs. Earnings

When con­sid­er­ing the type of pro­gram you are going for, you need to ana­lyze the cost of tuition and weigh it against the salary you get once you grad­u­ate. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant, espe­cial­ly if you get a stu­dent loan to pay for your stud­ies. The income you receive needs to be able to cov­er your loans. The advan­tage of accel­er­at­ed pro­grams is that they usu­al­ly cost less and allow you to enter the work­force faster. Thus, you can clear your debt sooner.

Financial Aid Availability

Most uni­ver­si­ties, big or small, offer finan­cial aid, whether a schol­ar­ship for excel­lence or a grant for being in a spe­cif­ic cat­e­go­ry of peo­ple. Accel­er­at­ed pro­grams can pro­vide the same thing, espe­cial­ly if they are part of a rep­utable uni­ver­si­ty. So, before mak­ing your choice, you should look into the finan­cial aid options that they pro­vide so that you can off­set your debt.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, an accel­er­at­ed degree can be just as use­ful for your pur­pos­es as a tra­di­tion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Not to men­tion that it also comes with some extra advan­tages. You just need to choose a pro­gram that aligns with your career and ensure it has been accred­it­ed by reli­able insti­tu­tions. Once you grad­u­ate from an accel­er­at­ed course, the diplo­ma you receive should be able to open plen­ty of doors and boost your career.


The Guardian