Accelerated degree programs offer students a path to complete their studies in a faster than usual time frame. They are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels, and may include online coursework.
Quick Degree Programs
Students seeking to earn degrees faster than the traditional time frame can consider enrolling in accelerated degree programs. There are several types of accelerated degree programs available, including options for those who already have an associate's degree and are looking to earn a bachelor's degree, and for those wanting to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree at the same time. These degree programs often have admissions requirements, course formats and completion times that differ from their traditional counterparts. Some schools offer additional ways for students to decrease the time required to earn their degree, such as offering credit for prior learning, credit by exam or credit for military experience.
Accelerated Associate's Degree
Traditional associate's degree programs generally take two years to complete and are typically offered by community colleges and vocational schools. These programs allow students to earn associate's degrees in about 18 months. While program formats vary, some options are designed for working adults and allow students to attend class one night a week and complete the rest of their coursework online. Students may take one compressed course at a time, often for 5-6 weeks.
Accelerated Bachelor's Degree
Accelerated bachelor's degree programs are often designed for students who have already completed an associate's degree or have about 60 credits of college credit. Usually, applicants will have completed their general education courses before enrolling and are able to concentrate on courses in their major area. This degree path is also an option for those who already have a bachelor's degree but are looking for a second degree in order to change their career path.
Some degrees can be completed in as little as 18 months, while others take two full years (including summers); traditional bachelor's degree programs take four years. Classes may be compressed and the number of classes may be fewer than traditional programs. Accelerated programs are available in on-campus, hybrid and fully online formats. Besides saving time, students who choose this degree path may be able to save money by completing their general education courses at a less expensive 2-year college.
Accelerated Master's Degree
Dual bachelor's/master's degree programs allow students to earn both degrees in about five years, rather than the traditional six. Students in these programs typically start taking graduate-level courses in their fourth year, which count as credits towards both degrees.
Accelerated master's degree programs often have separate admissions processes, since students need to be admitted to both the bachelor's and graduate programs. Students often apply to the graduate program during their junior or senior year, and the master's degree programs may require students to meet minimum GPA requirements, submit an essay or meet other academic performance requirements.
Master of Business Administration programs are available in many formats, including the traditional 2-year programs, 1-year accelerated programs and executive MBA programs for working professionals. Students who choose the accelerated program can complete the program in one year of full-time or two years of part-time study. Often offered in a cohort-format, students may take one class at a time for about six weeks or three classes per semester. Depending on the school, classes are often offered during the evening, on weekends or online. Accelerated programs may not require internships or field experiences (like the traditional programs).
Applicants to accelerated MBA programs are required to meet certain admissions requirements. They vary by school, but some possibilities include the following:
- Bachelor's degree
- 3-5 years of work experience
- Completion of prerequisite business courses
- GMAT scores
Online Learning Information
As discussed previously, accelerated degree programs may require offer some of the coursework online. In these programs, course material may be covered through online readings and video lectures. While the material is presented in an online format, the academic material presented is similar or even identical to material presented in a traditional program, so students in an accelerated program receive the same quality education. In a program with an online feature, students may communicate with instructors and other students through online platforms, such as:
- Message boards
- Video chatting
- Instant messaging
- Online forums
For online learning, students need to have access to a computer with specific hardware and software. Specialized technological requirements vary by topic of study, but in general, online students need to have a computer with following features:
- A recent Windows, Mac or Linux operating system
- High-speed internet access
- A certain amount of memory
- Office software
- Antivirus software
- Web camera
- Headphones and speakers
- CD/DVD drive
When considering an accelerated degree program, prospective students need to know about the curriculum and admissions requirements corresponding to the degree level and program of their choice. It can also be helpful to know how online learning works, since it may be an essential aspect of some accelerated learning programs.