How Long Will I Have to Go to School for My Bachelor Degree?

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Tra­di­tion­al­ly, a bach­e­lor’s degree is designed to be com­plet­ed in four years, divid­ed into eight semesters.
  • Some pro­grams offer faster com­ple­tion options, allow­ing stu­dents to grad­u­ate in less than four years by tak­ing more cred­its per semes­ter or through sum­mer courses.
  • Cir­cum­stances such as chang­ing majors or trans­fer­ring schools may extend the time need­ed beyond four years.

When you are com­mit­ted to get­ting an edu­ca­tion, you know that you are invest­ing time as well as effort and mon­ey. The amount of time you are will­ing to ded­i­cate to estab­lish­ing your edu­ca­tion is absolute­ly some­thing that should be con­sid­ered before embark­ing upon any kind of degree pro­gram. If, like many peo­ple, you have decid­ed to get your bach­e­lor’s degree, you must think about how much time is going to go into it. Because every stu­dent is dif­fer­ent, and because life cir­cum­stances are always chang­ing, the amount of time you require might be more or less than what is com­mon for others.

For the fastest online bach­e­lor degree pro­grams, see our rank­ing here.

Plan To Invest Four Years

For the most part, a bach­e­lor’s degree is called a four year degree. Just like US high school sys­tems, each year is des­ig­nat­ed in order as fresh­man, sopho­more, junior and senior. Like high school, the cor­rect des­ig­na­tion has to do with the num­ber of cred­its earned as well as the year of school you have gone through. For exam­ple, if some­one has gone through 2 years of school, but their earned cred­its are short, they might be con­sid­ered a fresh­man rather than a sophomore.

To attain your degree, you will need to com­plete a cer­tain amount of course­work which is mea­sured in cred­its or hours. These terms denote dif­fer­ent things at dif­fer­ent col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, but essen­tial­ly, you will be informed of how many cred­its or hours that you need to grad­u­ate. Sim­ply think of them as units of study.

Most bach­e­lor’s degree pro­grams assume that you will require four years, or eight semes­ters, to com­plete your degree. How­ev­er, the actu­al amount of time that you take to fin­ish the degree can vary accord­ing to a num­ber of dif­fer­ent situations.

For exam­ple, most uni­ver­si­ties put a lim­it on the num­ber of cred­its that you can take per year, espe­cial­ly if you are a fresh­man. A uni­ver­si­ty might state that the max­i­mum num­ber of hours of course work that you can take in a giv­en semes­ter is 18. Often the same school might make 15 be the stan­dard num­bers of hours that most stu­dents take, while 12 is the bare min­i­mum of required hours. If you are will­ing to take 18 hours per semes­ter, depend­ing on the num­ber of hours that are required for your pro­gram, you may be able to grad­u­ate as much as a semes­ter or even a year ear­ly. This will mean that your bach­e­lor’s pro­gram required three years instead of four, or even two years.

Reasons A Four Year Degree Could Take More Time

On the oth­er hand, there are many rea­sons why you might need an extra year. Some peo­ple have dif­fi­cul­ties with a heavy course load. To main­tain their life and their phys­i­cal and men­tal health, it is far bet­ter for them to take the min­i­mum num­ber of hours and to sim­ply stretch their edu­ca­tion to account for this.

On top of that, life sim­ply hap­pens! Stu­dents are as prone to life dis­rup­tions as every­one else, and because of this, a semes­ter might need to be spent out­side of the aca­d­e­m­ic set­ting, or the stu­dent may have had to with­draw from class due to health or per­son­al rea­sons. This can also stretch the length of a bach­e­lor’s degree. Addi­tion­al­ly, switch­ing pro­grams can also add some time to your bach­e­lor’s pro­gram as you need to take oth­er gen­er­al edu­ca­tion courses.

Trans­fer­ring schools can make a bach­e­lor’s degree take longer than the typ­i­cal four years. If you end up mak­ing a move from one school to anoth­er, some of the cred­its that you had pre­vi­ous­ly tak­en might not count. Sim­i­lar­ly, you may find that the new school has dif­fer­ent require­ments than your old one did. You may spend some time reestab­lish­ing your­self at the new school before pro­gress­ing with your education.

The ques­tion of how long you can take with your bach­e­lor’s degree is a spe­cif­ic one that can only be han­dled by your col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty. If you have a lengthy break dur­ing your pur­suit of a degree, you may return to find that your cred­its have expired. For exam­ple, many schools will not accept sci­ence cred­its that are between 5 and 7 years out of date. The only way to know for sure if your cred­its are still good is to ask and to make arrange­ments with an admis­sions coun­selor. When you are plan­ning your bach­e­lor’s degree, take a few moments to con­sid­er your invest­ment in time as well as money!

Can I Get a Bachelor’s Degree Faster Than 4 Years?

There are many ways you can use the high­er edu­ca­tion sys­tem to your ben­e­fit, of course. For instance, many degree com­ple­tion pro­grams allow you to use work expe­ri­ence for col­lege cred­it. That means you can get some col­lege cours­es excused. Oth­ers will allow you to use cer­tifi­cate pro­grams to earn more cred­its. Com­mu­ni­ty col­lege cred­its may trans­fer as well.

The num­ber of years you spent in sec­ondary school (sec­ondary edu­ca­tion means your high school diplo­ma), your mid­dle school GPA, ele­men­tary school — regard­less of what they told you about your “per­ma­nent record,” none of that mat­ters to your col­lege edu­ca­tion. The lev­el of edu­ca­tion you come in with may mat­ter to enroll­ment, but once you’re in, full-time or part-time, bach­e­lor of arts or bach­e­lor of sci­ence, col­lege stu­dents are work­ing toward a cre­den­tial that will mat­ter in the real world. Col­lege grad­u­ates get paid more, have more suc­cess on the job mar­ket, and advance faster.


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