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How Do Quick Degree Programs Work?

There are several program options for students looking to earn a degree quicker than the normal time. Read on to learn about your options to earn an accelerated degree, including program options, admission requirements and completion times.

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What Are Accelerated Degrees?

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 who want 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. Read on to learn about how these accelerated degree programs work.

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 15 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. Besides having a high school diploma or equivalent, some programs may require applicants to have a few years of work experience, be 23 or older or to demonstrate their commitment before enrolling.

Accelerated Bachelor's Degree

Sometimes known as degree completion or bridge programs, 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. Applicants have often 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 16 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.

Accelerated MBA

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 are required to have an undergraduate degree. Additional requirements vary by school but may include having 3-5 years of work experience, completing business prerequisite courses and providing GMAT scores.

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