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Accelerated Degree Programs

An accelerated degree is a college degree offered by an accredited university at an accelerated pace. The faster pace is typically achieved through a combination of shorter semesters and earning college credit for military experience, credit by examination, work experience, and previous training.


  • Shorter online classes allow you to earn your college credits quickly
  • Take a full-time course load without over-extending yourself
  • Complete your degree without sacrificing time with your family and without leaving your job

Degrees can be attained online at the Certificate, Associate, Bachelor, Master, and PhD Degree levels for a variety of majors and concentrations. An accelerated degree program works with your schedule, not the other way around.

In addition to shorter classes, most colleges offering fast-track classes also offer monthly (or bi-monthly) start dates. So, you don’t have to wait for January or August to roll around to enroll in classes.

How are accelerated online degrees different from traditional degree programs?

In terms of intensity, accelerated degree programs are very similar to traditional, campus-based degree programs. You will still be learning advanced concepts in your field and will be required to put forth your best effort in order to complete the degree.

The two primary differences between accelerated degrees and traditional degrees is the actual learning environment and the length of the semester. Online students enrolled in accelerated classes will “attend class” by using their home computer rather than sitting in a real classroom. Students also have the opportunity to participate in classroom discussions through online chat or message board, submit writing, and take exams through e-mail and the college’s online education portal.

In terms of semester duration, it varies by university. The most popular accelerated class format is 8-weeks, but many universities offer 5-week or 6-week online classes as well. Since a traditional academic semester on-campus is 16-weeks, it is easy to see why so many students prefer the accelerated class format.

What should I look for in a college?

The best degree programs should either possess regional or national accreditation from an accrediting body that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition, you can often recognize top online schools based on:

  • College’s name and status
  • College’s history
  • College resources, such as library, students services, etc.
  • Faculty credentials
  • Alumni network

When comparing online programs, consider the following factors:

  • Admission requirements
  • Class and teaching style
  • Course content and presentation
  • Program length
  • Class size
  • Student-teacher ratio
  • Tuition and financial aid
  • Residency requirements
  • Transferability of credits


It is very important to make sure that you choose a school that has valid accreditation. Since a degree can take several years to complete, it is vital that the college you select has legitimate, proper accreditation so that your degree will hold some form of clout when you seek out your career and present your resume to future employers.