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Col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties offer online degree com­ple­tion pro­grams to allow stu­dents who already have some amount of cred­its from pre­vi­ous upper-edu­ca­tion cours­es, and are look­ing to go back to school to com­plete their degree. There­fore, the amount of time it will take to com­plete your degree will depend on the amount of cred­its you are trans­fer­ring in. Many schools allow up to 90 cred­its to trans­fer, mean­ing that you would be able to fin­ish up your Bachelor’s degree in one year or less.

Most online degree com­ple­tion pro­grams are designed to sup­port stu­dents who work full-time job by uti­liz­ing the sched­ule flex­i­bil­i­ty of online class­es to com­plete their degree. Increas­ing your aca­d­e­m­ic cre­den­tials can often lead to pro­mo­tion in your cur­rent career field, allow­ing your invest­ment into an online degree com­ple­tion pro­gram to be paid back quickly.

For ref­er­ence to some of the fastest online Bach­e­lor Degree pro­grams, check out our list of the 30 Fastest Online Bachelor’s Degrees. Let’s take a look at some of the best strate­gies that can help you fin­ish your online degree com­ple­tion pro­gram in as lit­tle time as possible.

Transfer Credits

If you are look­ing for a degree com­ple­tion pro­gram, that means that you have already earned some amount of cred­its that will count towards your degree. Maybe you went to com­mu­ni­ty col­lege after high school and earned some cred­it hours. In order to com­plete your degree in the least amount of time, you will want to trans­fer as many of those col­lege cred­its as possible.

Most schools require you to com­plete some amount of their cours­es to be eli­gi­ble for their diplo­ma, but the min­i­mum require­ments dif­fer by school. Some schools only allow Bach­e­lor degree stu­dents to trans­fer 60 cred­its from oth­er insti­tu­tions, but there are a hand­ful of schools that allow you to trans­fer more than that. Schools like Fish­er Col­lege, Indi­ana Wes­leyan, and Beck­er Col­lege allow their stu­dents to trans­fer up to 90 cred­its towards their Bachelor’s.

There are also schools, like Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty, that will award you cred­its for pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ence, work expe­ri­ence, or intern­ships, so you should be sure to exhaust all of your options for trans­fer­ring the max­i­mum amount of cred­its into your online col­lege degree com­ple­tion program.

You may also place out of cours­es with CLEP exams or Advanced Place­ment (AP) class­es in high school.

Find Accelerated Courses

The typ­i­cal col­lege semes­ter takes 15 weeks to com­plete, though there are many schools which offer accel­er­at­ed online cours­es (also called fast track) that can be com­plet­ed in a short­er amount of time. Your course load will be low­er, but accel­er­at­ed degree pro­grams stack up col­lege cours­es in 6–8 week blocks so learn­ers take less time. Enroll­ment can often start mul­ti­ple times a year, and a full-time stu­dent can fin­ish in a lit­tle as a year (though part-time will take longer). While some accel­er­at­ed cours­es are in-per­son, online edu­ca­tion is more common.

Schools like Lamar Uni­ver­si­ty, Park Uni­ver­si­ty, and Char­ter Oak State Col­lege offer accel­er­at­ed online class­es that can be com­plet­ed in eight weeks. Some schools, like Upper Iowa Uni­ver­si­ty, offer Self-Paced degree pro­grams that allow stu­dents to com­plete their course­work as fast or slow as it suits them. Fin­ish­ing quick­ly also means less in finan­cial aid.

For more infor­ma­tion on whether or not an accel­er­at­ed online degree is right for you, check out our arti­cle that goes into detail about Accel­er­at­ed Bachelor’s Degree Pro­grams: The Advan­tages and Dis­ad­van­tages.

Take a Heavier Credit Load

The typ­i­cal cred­it load for a sin­gle semes­ter in a Bach­e­lor degree pro­gram is 15 cred­its, and most schools will allow you to take 18 cred­its. Many schools allow stu­dents to take more than the 18 cred­it lim­it if they have spe­cial per­mis­sion from their aca­d­e­m­ic advi­sor. In addi­tion, many schools offer accel­er­at­ed sum­mer cours­es that allow stu­dents to fin­ish the cred­its they need for a fast graduation.

A four-year degree, like a tra­di­tion­al bach­e­lor of arts or bach­e­lor of sci­ence, is the stan­dard of high­er edu­ca­tion. The Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics (BLS) shows that col­lege grad­u­ates make more than work­ers with only a high school diplo­ma. Your career path will be clear­er, and your earn­ing poten­tial will be higher.


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