How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Fast
Wondering how to get a bachelor’s degree fast?
You’re working. You’re paying your bills. You need to know how to get a bachelor’s degree fast.
Life doesn’t always give you time to go back to school for a degree.
You might be aware of a possible promotion coming up in 2 years that requires you to have a bachelor’s degree. You know you could advance in your career if you just had your bachelor’s degree but you have bills to pay and quitting your job for 4 years is not an option.
We got you covered! You can get your bachelor’s degree fast. You can also pay less for it. Interested? We can give you a roadmap and a plan. You will just need to do the work.
How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Fast – A Step-by-Step Guide
With online degrees, you have more options — how fast you get your bachelor’s degree is really up to you (and the college you choose).
To help you pick the right schools and programs, we’ve created a guide to give you the info you need to make the best choice for you and your family’s future.
- How can I get my bachelor’s degree fast?
- Colleges that help you get your degree faster
- Competency-Based Bachelor’s Degrees
- Accelerated Online Classes – 5 weeks, 6 weeks, or 8 weeks?
- Which is faster? Competency-Based Programs or Accelerated Online Classes?
- Life experience credit – Get credit for your life & work experience
- Credit by Examination – The fastest way to get college credits
- How fast can I get my bachelors degree?
How can I get my bachelor’s degree fast?
The first step is to pick a college that has generous credit policies for non-traditional credit — think credit for life experience, credit by exam, credit for military training, and similar policies that help you speed through your degree fast.
We’re not talking about just one specific college. If you have your heart set on a certain college you can get a fast bachelor’s degree from them, too.
But some colleges are just better suited for getting your bachelor’s degree fast.
The college you choose will determine exactly how fast you can complete your degree. It’s up to you!
Colleges that help you get your bachelor’s degree faster
I’ll give you 3 examples to see how they compare. They might look the same at first glance, but they all have certain characteristics that set them apart. Look carefully at your college’s policies to make sure you get the best fit.
#1 Colorado Technical University
Colorado Tech has a program called CTU Fast Track that offers you a series of exams allowing you to demonstrate your knowledge in the courses you need. If you pass these exams, you earn college credit for what you already know.
Online bachelor degrees offered:
- Business Administration
- Computer Science
- Criminal Justice
- Cyber Security
- Healthcare Management
- Information Systems Management
- Information Technology
- Project Management
Request more info about CTU Fast Track from Colorado Tech.
You also have the option of submitting an Experiential Learning Portfolio for credit.
#2 Western Governors University
Western Governors University has a number of assessments that they offer to give you credit for the skills and competencies you already have.
Online bachelor degrees offered:
- Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
- Data Management/Data Analytics
- Education (multiple concentrations)
- Health Information Management
- Information Technology
- Software Development
- Nursing (RN to BSN)
Request more info about Competency Based Degrees from WGU.
The competency based program uses assessments to award credit. These can be in the form of exams, research papers, assignments, projects or essays.
#3 Rasmussen College
Rasmussen College has a program called Flex Choice that allows you to complete your degree through a blend of traditional in class courses, competency based education, and self-directed assessments.
Competency based education are modules that you complete at your own pace and are graded by a faculty member. The self directed assessments are $99 and taken on your own online.
Online bachelor’s degrees offered:
- Computer Science
- Criminal Justice
- Data Analytics
- Graphic Design – Animation and Motion Graphics
- Graphic Design – Web and Interactive Design
- Health and Wellness
- Healthcare Management
- Human Resources
- Human Services
- Information Security
- Information Technology Management
- Nursing (Accelerated BSN)
- Supply Chain and Logistics
Request more info about Flex Choice from Rasmussen College.
You can see that each college has policies in place for getting your degree faster. But they are all different. It always pays to check with YOUR school to see what their policy is. You don’t want to end up spending more time in class than you necessary. Check what your school offers, what their policies are and you are on your way to a good fit.
Competency-Based Bachelor’s Degrees
Have you ever said “I’ve learned more working than I would have ever learned in college classes”?
You’re on to something.
Competency-based degrees will give you academic credit for subjects that you already know well.
You can quickly earn your bachelor’s degree using your competency for credit.
Instead of sitting through hours of classes and paying thousands of dollars to learn materials you already mastered, you pay a flat rate for a fixed amount of time. During that time you take exams in as many courses as you can to earn college credit.
I’m not messing with you!
This is for real. Check it out…
Western Governors University
Western Governors University charges a flat tuition rate for a 6 month term. During that time, you can take at least 4 courses, but if you are focused and determined you can take even more classes.
Instead of attending classes and listening to lectures, you will have 24/7 access to all of the materials needed for each course. You cover the competencies outlined and then you complete an online assessment when you are ready. The assessment might be a paper, presentation, case study or exam.
To qualify for Western Governors University competency program, you have to commit to a full time course load. That’s a good thing. It will help keep you on track to graduate faster. Take a minute now to get more info from WGU about their competency based degrees.
Capella University offers a similar path but with a few variations. See? There is always something a little different for each college. At Capella, you can work on a competency based degree via a Guided Path or a Flex Path.
Sweet. More choices.
The Guided Path program has you following a course schedule with assigned deadlines. You pay per course and you have regular check ins with your advisor.
The FlexPath program has you setting the pace for yourself. You pay a flat rate for each 12 week cycle. You can interact 1:1 with a tutor and get personalized help with your plan from a coach.
There are pros and cons to each approach, but they depend on your personality and strengths. If you are a confident self-starter, the FlexPath will give you the chance to set a much faster pace for yourself than the standard Guided Path. Want to know which program is a better fit? Take a minute to connect with Capella to find out.
Competency-based degrees are becoming more common as students like you who already hold a job and have skills and experience in the workforce are needing to add a bachelor’s degree to their resume.
Accelerated Online Classes – 5 weeks, 6 weeks, or 8 weeks?
Accelerated online classes are the other way to knock off classes quickly.
- American Intercontinental University (5 week or 10 week online classes)
- Colorado State University (8 week online classes)
- Rasmussen College (6 week online classes)
- Liberty University (8 week online classes)
The time frame for the classes vary. Select the pace that best fits your schedule.:
Using Liberty University as an example:
As an example of how quickly you can finish college with accelerated online classes, Liberty University allows you to take up to 3 classes per 8 weeks. Plus, they have a January intensive 3-week term.
- Take 3 classes during the Fall-1 term (8-weeks)
- Take 3 classes during the Fall-2 term (8-weeks)
- Take 1 class during the January intensive term (3-weeks)
- Take 3 classes during the Spring-1 term (8-weeks)
- Take 3 classes during the Spring-2 term (8-weeks)
- Take 3 classes during the summer session
Up for the challenge? Take a minute to see if Liberty University is a good match for you.
Taking this courseload at Liberty University, you can complete 16 classes in one year (48 credits). Add that to their generous 30-credit Credit for Prior Learning policy and acceptance of CLEP (and other credit by exam programs), you can finish your degree in near record time — but it will take a lot of effort!
Which is faster? Competency-Based Programs or Accelerated Online Classes
A competency based program gives you credit based on skills and knowledge you already have.
Western Governors University – Competency Based Degrees
Competency-based programs like Western Governors University are set up for you to gain credit without attending classes. At Western Governors University, you complete as many assessments as you can to earn college credit.
Because Western Governors University is so different from a traditional school approach, I’ll walk you through the steps.
- Enroll with the school
- Meet with your Student Mentor to set up a Degree Plan. This is your list of learning resources and assessments you already have and will need to develop.
- You choose your courses to enroll (at least 12 units/credit hours per semester)
- You set your start and end dates for each assessment you are planning to do
- All the materials you will need to study are available on the Student Portal
- Once your Degree Plan is set, you can start your coursework.
- You have an opportunity to do a pre-assessment to determine what you already know. If you get a good mark you can skip right to the final assessment and move onto the next course. Just like that!
- If you find areas you need to work on, you have a chance to study and then take the assessment online.
- You pass the assessment. You are done! Enroll for the next course.
No matter how many assessments you do, you only pay the one flat fee. If you are a real go-getter and keen to be done, you can complete many courses in one term. This can save you a lot of money!
Sound like a good match? Get more info from Western Governors University.
Traditional classes you have to pay per class, usually 3 credit hours. Even if you take 6 classes in a term, you will not save money. You still have to pay for each individual class.
Capella University – Flex Path Competency Based Degrees
Capella has the same end result with a Flex Path format. You pay per the term and you can power through the courses as fast as you can.
The beauty of competency based degrees is you can also include CLEP (College Level Examination Program) credits and Credit for Prior Learning. Even more bang for your buck!
Accelerated online classes come in terms of 5-week, 8-week, and 10-week. 8 weeks is the most common. Using accelerated classes you can take 2 (or sometimes 3) classes each term. The classes will often be set up online and you complete the coursework on your own time but within the framework and deadlines of the class.
There’s a good fit for everybody.
You can get more info about Capella University here.
If you are a strong self-directed learner with existing competencies you could progress the quickest through a self-paced competency based program.
If you work better with structure and deadlines than going the route of accelerated classes will be a better fit.
Using Capella University as an example:
|Time to completion||Up to you! You can complete as many assessments as you can in each 12 week term.||Just over 2 years|
|Semester based||No||Yes, 9 week terms|
|Run Like the Wind||Yes, you determine how fast you go||Somewhat yes, you can only go as fast as your classes allow|
|Someone keeping you on track||No, you have to motivate yourself||Yes, you have regular interactions with a professor|
Life experience credit – Get college credit for your work & life experience
Credit for things you already have done? Yes, please.
Each university has its own policies, but these universities award college credit for prior learning:
|Credit for Prior Learning||Exams Accepted for Credit|
|American Intercontinental University||Yes||CLEP, DSST, AP|
|Ashford University||Yes||CLEP, DSST, AP, IB|
|Colorado State University||Yes||CLEP, DSST, AP, IB|
|Colorado Technical University||Yes||CLEP, DSST, AP, Fast Track|
|Herzing University||Yes||CLEP, DSST, AP|
|Liberty University||Yes. Up to 30 hours may be awarded for credit for prior learning, plus credit by exam options. Impressive.||CLEP, DSST, ECE, Institutional Challenge Exams, Technical Training Assessments, University of Cambridge International Exams|
|Ohio Christian University||Yes||CLEP, AP|
|Post University||Yes. Up to 45 credit hours may be awarded using a combo of CLEP, DSST, or credit for prior learning… that’s a LOT!||CLEP, DSST, AP|
|Saint Leo University||Yes||CLEP, DSST, AP, ECE|
Just to give you an example of how the process works:
At Herzing, you are allowed to have up to 25% of your program requirements met by credit for previous experience.
Here’s what you would need to do:
- Enroll in the Professional Portfolio Development class.
- Create a portfolio that documents and demonstrates the knowledge you gained through life, work and community experiences. This should be geared towards a particular course.
- You receive credit for the course if your portfolio shows you have already gained college level learning.
Easy-peasy? I think so.
Credit by Examination – The fastest way to get college credits
Instead of taking the classes what if you just wrote the exams and got credit for it? Sounds like a scam but completely legit. This is known as Credit by Examination.
The two most common are College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST).
- You choose an exam to take and register online, pay your $85 registration fee.
- Study like mad using the study guide.
- Set up an appointment at the test center to take the exam.
- Take the exam.
- Win credits! Without going to class.
Other Credit by Exam options available are:
- Thomas Edison State Credit (TECEP)
- New York University Language Exams
- Excelsior College Exams (ECE)
How fast can I get my bachelors degree?
How fast is fast? The fastest you could get a bachelor’s degree is about 18 months. But the average is usually 2.5 years due to university restrictions.
Regardless of the college you decide to attend, you can use these strategies — some colleges just have more generous policies than others.
So, if you’re wondering how to get a bachelor’s degree fast (in the fastest time possible), select schools with the most generous policies regarding:
- credit for prior learning
- credit by exam
- transfer credits
- military training
- professional licenses
- similar non-traditional credit options
Let me introduce you to two friends.
Phoebe and Rachel are both wanting to get a bachelor’s degree.
Phoebe has no military, work, hobby or life experience to earn her credit. She’s starting from square one. But she’s a smart cookie.
Phoebe applies to Capella University. She studies for a few CLEP exams and earns 18 hours of credit. One semester done!
Phoebe also speaks French fluently so she takes the NYU Language Exam and earns 12 credits. Now she’s ready to hit the classes. Phoebe needs someone to keep her on track so she enrolls in the Guided Path format.
She’s a hard worker and takes 3 classes (9 credits) every quarter. She earns 36 credits every year and finishes in 2.5 years.
Rachel is also wanting to get through school quickly. She’s got an exciting career in fashion and just needs a bachelor’s degree to go that next step.
Luckily, Rachel already has work and life experience under her belt. Rachel writes up a Credit for Prior Learning portfolio at Capella University and earns 15 credits.
She buckles down and takes a few CLEP exams earning another 15 credits. Once she finds out how good she did on the exams she also decides to take a few DSST exams and a TECEP exam. She now has another 15 credits.
She enrolls in the FlexPath program at Capella and completes 4 courses every 12 weeks. In 18 months, she has the 120 credit hours she needs to be done and fly off to France. Or maybe stay in New York.
Going back to school and getting a bachelor’s degree is really a life changing decision. But it can be done quicker than you might think. Now that you know how to get a bachelor’s degree fast, are you ready to start changing your life?