Accelerated Bachelors Degree Online – 7 Ways to Finish Your Degree Fast

Accelerated Bachelors Degree Online – 7 Ways to Finish Your Degree Fast

Looking for an Accelerated Bachelors Degree Online?

Here are 7 proven ways to finish your bachelors degree fast.

Lean in close. I’m going to share 7 secrets with you that will help you finish college faster. Don’t worry they aren’t illegal or unethical. But they are very clever and not so well known. They are also not magical. Sorry, I am not your fairy godmother.

These 7 strategies will work no matter what college you choose to attend. You can speed through the time to complete college using just one of these strategies. Or if you are super eager to be done, you can use all 7 strategies and take years off your time in college. It will be fast.

The secret is that it is completely up to you. You design your schedule in order to accelerate your degree.

Accelerated Bachelors Degree Online - 7 Ways to Finish Your Degree Fast

7 Ways to Finish Your Bachelor’s Degree Fast

  1. Accelerated Strategy #1 – Select one major, no minor
  2. Accelerated Strategy #2 – Get credit for your military training
  3. Accelerated Strategy #3 – Enroll in accelerated online classes
  4. Accelerated Strategy #4 – Stay continuously enrolled with the max course load
  5. Accelerated Strategy #5 – Submit a credit for prior learning portfolio
  6. Accelerated Strategy #6 – External Learning Opportunities
  7. Accelerated Strategy #7 – Credit by Exam

Bonus: Do-it-Yourself Accelerated Bachelor’s Schedule

Accelerated Strategy #1 – Select one major, no minor

What? You say. This makes no sense. Don’t you need a minor?

No, you don’t. By selecting only one major and no minor you are able to keep your options open because you don’t have as many specific course requirements in your degree plan. By declaring a minor you are more restricted in what you can take and this will slow you down. Like lead shoes.

Focusing on just one major allows you to use more Credit by Exam and Credit for Prior Learning credits to fill your electives.

Let’s say you are working in a nice office job. You are also working on completing a degree with a Major in Business Administration (you’re such a hard worker!). You don’t choose a major because you know that you are more likely to get Credit for Prior Learning credits (from your office job) that you can apply to your elective credits. It would be really hard to try and get Credit for Prior Learning credits if you chose sociology as your minor.

Accelerated Strategy #2 – Get credit for your military training

If you served in the military you have got to use your experience for credit. It just makes sense. The other reason is that this strategy is pretty easy.

The Department of Defense along with the American Council on Education (ACE) will review your military training and experience and recommend the appropriate college credits you could receive. You will then be issued a document called the Joint Services Transcript.

How you get this process started is:

  1. Log into the Joint Services Transcript website
  2. Click on “Official Transcript Request”
  3. Select your school
  4. Choose to have the transcript delivered electronically or via U.S. Postal Service


It really is that simple. You already put in the hard work by serving in the military!

Accelerated Strategy #3 – Enroll in accelerated online classes

It is always faster to do things online, right? Well this is true for classes. You can complete an accelerated online class in 8 weeks. Or less. Some colleges will offer 5 or 6 week long classes. Compare this to a typical 13 week long in-person class.

Enrolling for an online class is the same as enrolling for any other class. It is just online. So simpler and you can stay in your pajamas.

Here’s how it works to enroll at Southern New Hampshire University. Just to give you an idea of how basic it is.

  1. Go to the school website
  2. Click on the “Online degrees” button
  3. Find the degree and then the class you want.
  4. Click on “Admissions” and then “Apply Now”
  5. Select “Online degrees” because remember that is our secret to being speedy?
  6. Fill out the online application form.
  7. Hit submit
  8. You win!


The process really is streamlined and simple. It takes me longer to order a pizza because I have to figure out how to do half no olives.

Accelerated Strategy #4 – Stay continuously enrolled with the maximum course load

So now you are in. You are enrolled for online classes. Don’t stop now! This is where you can really get the momentum going. Each school has a 6-9 hour credit hour maximum course load.

Use your superpowers and always take the max number of credits you can. Then do it again every 8 weeks. The steps are simple:

  1. Enroll for 2-3 online classes every 8 weeks
  2. Repeat


This is the strategy that will get you to the finish line. Use this.

Accelerated Strategy #5 – Submit a credit for prior learning portfolio

This is not actually a secret. But it should be because it is awesome You can get college credits just for the experiences and knowledge you already have.

Yes. Credit for being alive. Usually called Credit for Prior Learning. Most universities and colleges will have policies in place to help you earn credit for your past work or life experiences

At Stark State College credit is awarded for “demonstrated college level-learning.”

Here’s how you get that credit:

  1. Enroll in a degree program with your school
  2. Put together a portfolio that describes what you have learned. This could include:
  • Life experiences
  • Clubs
  • Volunteering
  • Hobbies
  • Training
  • Recreational pursuits
  • Travel
  1. Describe how your experiences have already covered material you would learn in a class.
  2. Support this with any documents, awards, letters or recommendations that you have received.
  3. Submit your portfolio to your assigned faculty member and have it evaluated.
  4. Earn up to 15-30 credits just for what you have already done.


You have got to share this secret with friends and family members. Getting credit for life experiences will drastically reduce the amount of time (and money!) invested in getting a degree.

Accelerated Strategy #6 – External Learning Opportunities

Did you know that there is another way to earn credit that is (almost) free and can be done at your convenience? You might think I am making this up. But it is completely legit.

We like to call it an external learning opportunity. All that means is that it is a chance to take classes (for free) from a place other than your school.

Saylor Academy (as an example, there are other ACE approved methods) offers 31 courses that can give you up to 91 credit hours. With no tuition.

You can take the courses online, whenever you want. They are available 24/7. You also work at your own speed.

The perfect way to fill in some extra time. Instead of re-watching Friends episodes you could be earning college credits on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Check with your school that you will get credit for completing a course with Saylor Direct Credit program. Even if it is free you don’t want to waste your time.
  2. Choose your courses (yes, as many as you want)
  3. Learn a lot of important stuff (like mechanics, psychology, sociology, computer science, chemistry) by completing the course associated with the exam
  4. Take the practice exam
  5. Schedule your proctored (supervised by a certain person usually a college faculty member) exam, they cost $25-40 per exam.
  6. Take that exam! Be so happy and so proud you passed.
  7. Request to have your transcript sent to your school

This option offers some beautiful advantages that CLEP and Credit by Exam don’t. You get all the materials you need, you don’t have to self study. Did I mention the class is free? How often do you get free classes in college?

You can also take the exam when you are fully prepared. When you know you will do well.Also it doesn’t cost much to take the exam. There is no reason not to try this strategy!

Accelerated Strategy #7 – Credit by Exam

The seventh secret of quick online degrees is Credit by Exam. With this strategy, young Padawan, you may pass quickly through college.

Credit by Exam allows you to earn credit for classes that you didn’t take. Sounds fishy. But it isn’t.

Each university and college will have a maximum number of Credit by Exam tests you can take. Whatever that number is (whether 18-30 credit hours) MAXIMIZE it! You will save large amounts of time and money.

Check out these options for Credit by Exam and how much they cost per exam. Each exam will earn you 3-16 credit hours

College Level Examination Program (CLEP) $80
Dantes Subject Standarized Test (DSST) $80
Thomas Edison States Credit (TECEP) $75
New York University (NYU) Language Exams $450
Excelsior College Exams (ECE) $110

The process is basic:

  1. Choose an exam on a topic that you already have knowledge of or can learn quickly.
  2. Choose one of the Credit by Exam options above.
  3. Register for the exam online and pay your fee.
  4. Choose a study guide recommended by the site administering the exam.
  5. Schedule a time to take the exam at either a test center, college or (for TECEP) online.
  6. Study! Study! Study! Make sure you know your stuff.
  7. Take your exam.
  8. Rejoice at your credits earned quickly and (relatively) pain free.


Using Credit by Exam is one of the strongest and most powerful strategies to knock off credit hours without sitting through classes and completing assignments. You just write as many exams as you can and tally up the credit hours.

Accelerated Bachelors Degree — Do-It-Yourself Schedule

Pre-College
Accelerated Bachelors Degree Strategy

College Credits Earned

Choose one major (no minor)

N/A

Military training credit

21

 

First Year of College
Start Date End Date Accelerated Bachelors Degree Strategy

College Credits Earned

August October Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

August October Credit for Prior Learning Portfolio

18

October December Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

January January External Learning (BUS203 Principles of Marketing, Saylor.org)

3

January Feb Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

Feb April Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

First Year Total

45 hours

 

Summer Between First & Second Year of College
Start Date End Date Accelerated Bachelors Degree Strategy

College Credits Earned

May May Credit by Exam: CLEP (Analyzing and Interpreting Literature)

6

May June Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

June June Credit by Exam: CLEP (Natural Sciences)

6

June August Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

July July Credit by Exam: CLEP (English Literature)

6

Summer Total

30 hours

 

Second Year of College
Start Date End Date Accelerated Bachelors Degree Strategy

College Credits Earned

August October Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

October December Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

January Feb Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

Feb April Accelerated classes (max course load)

6

Second Year Total

24 hours

Total Credit Hours

120 hours

 

Most universities will allow a maximum of 6 credit hours every 8 weeks. But they don’t realize you have superpowers of dedication, focus and hard work. Colleges like Arizona State University will allow you to take 9 credit hours in 8 weeks.

Using this to your advantage you can shave an additional six months off the time to complete college. That sounds like a super good deal to me!

Accelerated Bachelors Degrees vs. Traditional Degrees

If sitting in class for the next four years of your life to complete a bachelor’s degree sounds daunting, expensive, and time-consuming, accelerated bachelors degree programs could be just what the doctor ordered.

Students just like you who have jobs, families, and other responsibilities are pursuing bachelor’s degrees through accelerated programs online from the comfort of their homes and communities.

An accelerated bachelor’s degree is no different in merit and value than a traditional bachelor’s degree. In fact, it may even be more valuable to you since you’ll be saving time and money.

Benefits of an Accelerated Bachelors Degree

Depending on what you’re looking for in an accelerated degree, some or all of these benefits might sound attractive to you.

When I was searching for a program and pursuing my degree online, these benefits were invaluable to my experience as an accelerated online student. They made pursuing an accelerated bachelors degree possible when attending my local university in person just wasn’t.

Get College Credit Without Taking Classes

Yes. You read that correctly!

A very little known fact among students is this: You can earn college credit for what you already know. In most university circles, this is called Credit for Prior Learning. It comes in a variety of formats which I cover in more detail later in the article.

Taking Classes from Home

Accelerated Bachelor's Degree Online Students

According to the Babson Survey Research Group, over 7 million students in higher education took at least one online course last year.

Online courses and fully online programs (like accelerated bachelor’s degree programs) are extremely popular. One of the primary reasons for this popularity is that students can take these courses from the comfort of their own homes. This way, students are less likely to skip class and course instruction, because they can even stay in their pajamas if they want to in order to attend online classes. Or, if you have small children crawling up your leg like I did when I completed my degree online, or a job that requires you to work odd hours, you can pause and resume class lectures when you want. This was probably the most beneficial feature of an online accelerated program for me, because it allowed me to continue to enjoy my normal life while also pursuing my degree.

Another added bonus is at home, you can feel comfortable taking quizzes, exams, and other assessments in a setting that is peaceful and calming, even if you have to wait until midnight to get that peace and quiet!

Bachelor's Degree Student Walking on College CampusSaving Money On Your Courses

What prevents many people from completing a bachelor’s degree are the exorbitant costs. Four year colleges and universities charge expensive fees for students who attend classes on campus. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that 60 percent of college students borrow money annually to help pay for tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. The average loan of all age groups is nearly $25,000.

Accelerated bachelor’s degrees are often much more cost efficient than attending a four year program. In my research, I found that accelerated programs were not only affordable, but that I didn’t even need to acquire any loan debt to pay for them. I saved money for my program and paid a little each month; many programs offer monthly payment plans instead of sticking you with a large semester or term bill.

Variety of Accelerated Courses Offered

If you’re limited to your local college or university for course selection, you may never get to take the classes that really interest you or the classes you need for your degree and career path.

Online programs have the capability to offer an impressive selection of courses since logistics like classroom space don’t need to be arranged. So, you can choose a program that has the courses you’re interested in rather than the program that’s accessible via transportation in your home town.

Accelerated Bachelors Degrees Save Time and Give You Flexibility

If there’s anything more important to people than money, it’s time. Transportation to and from a classroom and the rigid schedule that an on-campus education demands can be daunting and stressful for people with busy lives.

As someone with an unpredictable schedule, taking classes online in an accelerated bachelors degree program was the only possibility if I wanted to finish my degree. Classes were convenient to my schedule and I was able to squeeze in an hour here and an hour there of listening to lectures, taking assessments online, and studying.

Of course, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in an accelerated program requires dedication and a sizCollege Professor Shaking Students Handable time commitment (you probably couldn’t do it well while juggling three jobs and five kids on your own) since you’ll be finishing your degree faster than the average college student. However, the flexibility to complete course work when you’re available during the week rather than when someone tells you that you have to is an invaluable benefit of these accelerated programs.

Top Professors and Instructors

The most respected and experienced professors and instructors in their fields are now teaching courses online. Top colleges and universities are putting more and more courses online these days, meaning that you can get a top notch education without ever sitting in a classroom at one of these premiere institutions. Just like those students who did sit in class, you’ll be trained by the best and your resume will reflect that impressive training, making no mention that your degree was earned entirely online.

Quality of Courses

Don’t think that because you’re choosing the online route that you’ll be getting a lesser education. Online courses have been increasing in quality over the years, and many even out perform on-campus courses in terms of student satisfaction and content delivered.

The Babson Survey Research Group surveyed 2,800 colleges and found that 74 percent of professors and instructors rated online courses as equal to or superior to face-to-face classes. In other words, most people find online classes as high or higher in quality as those they have taught in the classroom.

Accelerated Bachelors Degree Online Students in ClassroomNetworking Opportunities

Since you’ll be in class with a diverse group of students of all ages, backgrounds, and work experience from all over the country (and beyond), you’ll have the opportunity to network with these folks. Maybe someone in one of your online classes will introduce you to a potential job opportunity. Since online classes usually draw more diverse students than traditional on-campus programs, the chances of meeting someone who could help shape your future increase.

Financial Aid

Just because you pursue your accelerated degree online doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for financial aid and support. Many online accelerated bachelors degree programs offer financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, or federal funding through loans. The cost, even though it’s often cheaper than attending a college or university in person, shouldn’t deter you from pursuing your dream of completing a bachelor’s degree.

Types of Accelerated Bachelors Degrees

Not all accelerated programs offer students the same paths towards completing a bachelor’s degree. Here’s a brief overview of the different types of programs you may encounter while searching for accelerated bachelors degree programs. They are vastly different and appeal to a wide-range of backgrounds and experience.

Degree Completion Programs

Degree completion programs are beneficial if you already have college credit to apply towards your degree.

Say you didn’t quite finish the last program you were in because life got in the way or you lost your motivation. Some of these programs may require you to be of a certain age (23 is a common age, or, beyond traditional college age) and that you hold a GED or high school diploma. You’ll also have to supply proof that you received credit at another institution (either in the form of a completed or partial associate’s degree, or a partial bachelor’s degree).

There’s no need to start from the beginning if you already have credit hours under your belt from a former institution. Chances are, you can likely transfer most of those credits to your new accelerated program. You may even be able to finish your bachelor’s degree in a year’s time. Now that’s an accelerated degree!

Accelerated Degrees for First-Time Students

Accelerated Bachelor Degree StudentIf you’ve never gone to college before and are looking to start from the beginning, look for programs that label their degrees as accelerated degrees. These will be listed on a school’s website and in any literature about the programs.

These programs and degrees are designed for people who want to forego the traditional college experience and complete their degree in a timely manner (fast!). Most of these programs take about two to three years to complete, but that’s still far less than the four to six years it usually takes students to finish a bachelor’s degree on campus.

Accelerated Online Classes

Some programs offer classes that are accelerated (typically 8-weeks long), either within a traditional online degree program (meaning you could turn your degree program into an accelerated bachelors degree program on your own by taking multiple classes), or as part of an accelerated program. Some programs offer these accelerated classes within their already accelerated degree programs, making it possible to finish in even less time. Keep reading for more details about these accelerated class formats.

How to Accelerate Your Bachelors Degree Even More

Since most accelerated bachelors degree programs still take years to complete, you can accelerate your degree even more by taking accelerated classes or earning credit for the life and work experience you already have.

Accelerated Courses

Accelerated classes forgo a traditional semester schedule and instead only take around eight weeks to complete (rather than 16 weeks).

Accredited universities offering accelerated 8-week classes online:

College students studying in bachlor degree programThese classes are intense, as you’ll still have to cover the same amount of information as you would in a 16 week class. If you’re ready to put your nose to the grindstone and work diligently toward your degree, accelerated classes can help you finish your degree faster than traditional, 16-week on-campus classes.

Getting College Credit Without Taking Classes

A lot of people don’t know that you can get credit for prior life and work experience that you have under your belt. You can even get credit for simple exams that take little to no time to complete, but can prove your knowledge in a subject area.

CLEP Exams & DSST Exams

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers 33 tests in five subject areas. All tests cost $80 to complete, which is much cheaper than paying for the up to 12 credit hours that you could earn by passing them.

For example, if you pass the CLEP American Literature exam, you can earn as much as six credit hours in just the 90 minutes it took to complete the exam.

DSST also offers similar exams at the same cost to both military personnel and civilians in a variety of subjects. Whether you have knowledge of math, history, English, or a foreign language, chances are you can earn college credit easily and affordably through these testing programs.

If you have experience in the military, law enforcement, or fire and rescue training, you can even receive college credit in an accelerated program. For example, just having served one year in the military could earn you up to eight hours of elective credit. Credit awarded varies widely by college, so be sure to do your research.

Most Popular Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees

If you’re wondering what types of degrees are available in these accelerated formats, the answer is that almost any degree is. The fact is, there are hundreds of accelerated bachelors degrees from which to choose.

If the degree you want isn’t on the list below, no worries. The chances of a program offering it somewhere in an accelerated format are high; you may just have to do some digging. And the best part is, if you find an online program, you won’t have to worry about relocating or commuting a long distance to pursue your degree.

  • Business Administration
  • Psychology
  • Accounting
  • Education / Teaching
  • English
  • Communication
  • Political Science
  • Economics
  • History
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Sociology
  • Healthcare Administration

College and University Accreditation

Before you apply to any program, accelerated or not, always research and confirm accreditation. This section might be the last section in this article, but accreditation is probably the most important consideration for your future career potential when selecting a program. Most employers will make sure that the program you received your degree from is a recognized, accredited program.

  • Student sitting on bench at accelerated college campusNational Accreditation: This is the most basic level of accreditation. Accrediting agencies like the American Psychological Association and the Distance Education and Training Council give accreditation to programs that they feel meet standards in their field. If your field has a general, national accrediting agency, make sure your program has been given accreditation by it.
  • Regional Accreditation: Regional accreditation is often more stringent than national accreditation. If the program you choose has regional accreditation (like by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities), that’s a great sign that the program fulfills all requirements needed to ensure you’ll be professionally trained in your field.

Accelerated bachelors degree programs offer students the benefits of a convenient, affordable online education in a fast-paced format. These programs are suited to those of you who want your degree fast in order to move up in your current field or start a new career path soon.

Conclusion

No magic. No tricks. Just 7 well thought out proven strategies to help you finish college faster.

They aren’t actually secrets either. Just not that well known. These 7 strategies are well recognized and supported by most major universities and colleges. But most students won’t know about them.

Consider yourself one of the lucky ones! You are now sitting on 7 ideas that can blast you through college at warp speed. Choose wisely. Or try them all!

Which strategy would you try first? What is stopping you from using these tips?

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