How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online

Many adults think about going back to school. It’s either to finish what they once started or to earn a better degree for greener pastures. However, the majority of them have full-time jobs and other duties and responsibilities. If you’re one of them, you may be worried that getting a bachelor’s degree online may take up a lot of your time.

It takes three to four years to get a bachelor’s degree online for full-time students. However, it takes five to six years to get a bachelor’s degree online if the student is enrolled part-time. Some online schools also offer accelerated bachelor’s degrees, which take a little over a year to complete.

Besides working adults, many fresh high school graduates are interested in attending online colleges and universities. Most of the time, it’s because of the fact that they want to get their hands on a degree faster.

The good news is that bachelor’s degrees are speedier to complete sitting in front of a computer than sitting in a traditional classroom.

What’s more, the time it will take online students to earn a bachelor’s degree will greatly depend on how often they can go online — the more classes you can take per term, the quicker you will graduate.

However, although getting a bachelor’s degree online is perfect for working adults who are always in crunch time, it also comes with some disadvantages.

So, how long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree online?

In order to become a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BS (Bachelor of Science), you need to complete at least 120 credits in most colleges and universities:

120 credits
UMGC dashboard

So, how quickly you get your degree depends on how quickly you complete 120 credits.

However, there are some shortcuts which we will discuss below.

We will also talk about a few other related matters, such as the steps you may take to complete an online bachelor’s degree in the shortest amount of time possible so that you could start applying for a job if you’re fresh from high school or increase your chances of getting that much-desired job promotion.

Before we talk about those things, let’s answer this…

How Long Does Online School Take Per Day?

A standard load is 12 credits, which is equivalent to four classes. As a general rule of thumb, a student will have to spend one hour attending an online class and two more hours doing homework for every credit. So, in other words, one class will take a student about nine hours per week to complete.

Still, it will depend on how many classes you will take per term. Naturally, the more classes you take a term, the longer every online session will be, but the faster you will earn your bachelor’s degree.

One of the nicest things about getting a bachelor’s degree online is that you can earn it at your chosen pace. So, if you are like most working adults, the demographic that online schools appeal to the most, you can take your time getting a bachelor’s degree to keep your work performance from suffering.

However, if you are a fresh high school graduate or just decided to quit your job to focus on getting a degree via the web, you can take more classes to obtain your bachelor’s degree online in no time.

Just make sure that you will be able to handle all the challenges and keep your grades as far as possible from the failing range.

If getting a failing mark is not an option, it’s a good idea to stick to a program that you can finish without putting your everyday schedule in shambles.

And this takes us to a question that needs an answer…

What is the Easiest Degree to Get Online?

A degree earned online is similar to a degree earned from attending a traditional college or university. However, it is generally easier to get since the student need not travel repeatedly to and fro the home and school and wait for two to four years, depending on the program, to finish college.

Many working adults find it impossible to keep their jobs and go to physical schools at the same time. However, it’s a completely different story if they attend schools operating on the internet.

Thanks to online schools, working adults can carry out their coursework in the comfort of their homes before or after office hours.

Similarly, parents can access materials without stepping foot outside their homes and leaving their kids behind. Needless to say, online college is for those who do not have the means to go to school traditionally.

It’s true that getting bachelor’s degrees online is easier. But did you know that some bachelor’s degrees online are easier to get than the rest? Here are some of the easiest online bachelor’s degrees of the bunch:

  • Agriculture Science
  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • English
  • Leadership in the Public Sector
  • Liberal Arts
  • Nursing
  • Psychology

Before we proceed to the next topic, let’s answer this question many students are too shy to ask…

What is the Quickest Way to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

The quickest way to get a bachelor’s degree is by enrolling at an online school. Going to an online school that accepts transferred credits is recommended for those with prior college experience. Asynchronous classes let students complete their coursework and thus earn bachelor’s degrees faster.

However, there is one more method through which you can have a bachelor’s degree faster.

If you cannot wait to complete a bachelor’s degree so that you may start looking for a job or climb up the corporate ladder in no time, keep on reading — we will talk about this time-saving approach below.

Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees Online

By now, we have established the fact that completing a bachelor’s degree online can be so much faster than earning it in the traditional manner — stepping foot on the campus regularly for four very long years!

Online, you can cut the time it normally takes to earn a bachelor’s degree by half, depending on how many classes you take per term.

Worry not if completing a bachelor’s degree online in two to three years still sounds too long for you. That’s because it’s possible to get your hands on a bachelor’s degree in just around one year.

Anything that can be obtained so much faster than a year should be a cause for alarm. Most diploma mills guarantee a degree within 30 days of your application. However, employers will turn you down within just three seconds from the time that you hand them your fake bachelor’s degree!

Let’s begin our discussion about accelerated bachelor’s degrees online by answering this question…

Is the Coursework for Accelerated Degrees Different From Traditional Ones?

The coursework for accelerated bachelor’s degrees and traditional bachelor’s degrees is the same. However, for students to earn their bachelor’s degrees, they need to complete their coursework faster. It’s exactly because of this why earning an accelerated bachelor’s degree requires diligence.

Earning a bachelor’s degree online can be beneficial for all working students. However, not all working students can benefit from earning an accelerated bachelor’s degree online.

As mentioned above, the coursework for accelerated bachelor’s degrees online is the same coursework for bachelor’s degrees from online and brick-and-mortar colleges and universities. The only difference is that you will have to complete your coursework in a small amount of time, usually around a year only.

Because of this, you may have a difficult time completing an accelerated bachelor’s degree online if you have a hectic work schedule or you’re too busy taking care of your family.

Going for an accelerated bachelor’s degree program available online, on the other hand, is perfect for you if you have a lot of free time that you can devote to studying instead of some other tasks. As a result of this, you can significantly cut the amount of time it would take to earn a non-accelerated bachelor’s degree.

Besides time, accelerated bachelor’s degree programs also help save a lot of money.

Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs typically charge the same amount of tuition and fees as traditional standard bachelor’s programs.

However, since you will spend less time going to an online school because you will have to complete the coursework at a much faster rate, there is no need to pay for your education for a longer time period.

And this leads us to a pressing question…

Do All Traditional Bachelor’s Degrees Come in Accelerated Options?

Unfortunately, not all traditional bachelor’s degree programs are available in accelerated bachelor’s degree programs. Similarly, not all online schools offer accelerated bachelor’s degrees. Some accelerated bachelor’s degree programs can be completed much faster than other accelerated programs.

Before you apply to a school, make sure that you ask about the availability of accelerated bachelor’s degrees if you are looking forward to earning one. Also, inquire about the availability of your preferred program.

The majority of online schools will tell you that attending them will let you get your hands on a bachelor’s degree so much faster than going to a physical school. However, despite this, not all of these schools operating on the web can let you get a bachelor’s degree in just around a year through an accelerated program.

Here’s a table comparing some online schools with accelerated bachelor’s degree programs:

Albertus Magnus College8
American InterContinental University25
Capella University17
Western Governors University28
Colorado State University13
Colorado Technical University41
Concordia University Chicago7
Indiana Wesleyan University8
Liberty University121
Northeastern University10

Got no idea of which accelerated bachelor’s degree online you would like to take, but you’re sure that you will know it when you come across it?

Then, consider checking out an online school offering an assortment of accelerated programs. The more choices around, the more chances of finding one you would be interested in.

Before you pick one, carefully read the course description. It will give you an overview of the content, knowledge and skills you will learn from it, as well as the learning activities and strategies you will experience taking the program.

The following are some popular accelerated bachelor’s degrees available on the web:

  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Human Resources
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Social Work

Now that you know what accelerated bachelor’s degrees online are and how they can be completed so much faster than standard bachelor’s degrees on the internet and those that you can get from traditional schools, let’s answer this question that every person considering an accelerated program would like to ask…

Do Employers Accept Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees Online?

Employers accept accelerated bachelor’s degrees online. After all, they are similar to traditional bachelor’s degrees, although they are completed so much faster. As other degrees, employers accept accelerated bachelor’s degrees online if they come from accredited and respected online schools.

Because not all accelerated bachelor’s degrees will seem legit and credible in the eyes of employers, it’s a must that you earn yours from a reputable online college or university.

This is when the importance of applying to an accredited online school offering accelerated programs comes in.

When choosing a school, look for one that’s regionally accredited. More employers prefer applicants from regionally accredited schools than nationally accredited ones due to having much higher education standards.

Here’s one more reason why you should apply to an online school with regional accreditation: just in case you are unable to finish your program or want to earn another degree from another school — online or traditional — after completing your program, the credits you earned will be accepted, especially by another regionally accredited school.

How to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree Online Faster

Students who go to traditional colleges and universities usually earn their degrees at the same time.

On the other hand, many of those who attend online schools tend to get their degrees at different times. Some can obtain theirs faster by spending more time online, while others can have theirs slower for having hectic schedules.

No matter the case, going to an online school allows you to earn a bachelor’s degree at your chosen pace.

Earlier, we mentioned that a bachelor’s degree online could be obtained in just three to four years or about a year if it’s the accelerated kind. If you want to make sure that you will get your hands on a bachelor’s degree online on time or even ahead of schedule, there are steps you may take.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to breeze through online college and earn a bachelor’s degree faster:

Opt for asynchronous learning

Some online classes take place in real-time — the students are expected to log on the web and participate in discussions at predetermined schedules.

While convenient, these classes are not flexible in that they do not allow the students to sit before their computers only when they have the time to attend to their online studies.

But then there’s asynchronous learning. Simply put, this involves logging on the web whenever you want to access the content necessary for completing the coursework.

Especially if you are a fast learner or have an unpredictable everyday schedule, it’s a wonderful idea to go to an online school offering asynchronous learning instead of real-time classes. This way, you can go online only when you can focus on learning so much better and even complete as much of the coursework as you can.

Take more classes per term

It sounds so simple: taking more classes every term lets you earn your bachelor’s degree online faster. However, if you are a working adult or busy with all sorts of commitments, a simple matter can become complex in an instant.

Most students attending online colleges and universities can only manage one to two classes with an intense workload.

Take note that one class is equivalent to three credits, and one credit requires one hour spent studying and two hours spent doing homework per week — two online classes are already equivalent to 18 hours of work a week!

This is why if you are tempted to take more than two classes per term, make sure that you have plenty of time available. Or you may improve your time management skills and try to learn so much faster than normal.

Let’s see how this math works on the example of UMGC (University of Maryland Global Campus).

The academic calendar is UMGC consists of three semesters: Fall, Spring and Summer. There is no Winter semester in UMGC.

fall semester

Each semester is split to 2-3 sessions. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes don’t. Let’s assume you take only one class per non-overlapping session in each semester. It means you take 2 classes in fall, 2 in spring and 2 in summer.

Each class worth 3 credits, so the total number of credits per year is 6 (classes) multiplied by 3 = 18.

If you take 18 credits each year, it will take you 6 and a half years to complete all degree requirements.

Now, if you take 2 classes per session, the total number of classes will be 12, or 36 credits each year. In this case, you can complete degree requirements in less than 3 and a half years.

Use your work and life experience

It’s no secret that the credits you earned from your previous school can be transferred to your new school, provided that both schools are accredited — choose a regionally accredited school because it allows transfer credits from either a regionally or nationally accredited school.

Did you know that you can also earn credits for having work and life experience?

Online schools that give work and life experience credit will usually ask you to take an exam to prove your competence in a certain field or create a portfolio to showcase the knowledge and skill set you obtained simply for being alive.

Either way, work, and life experience credits can help you earn a bachelor’s degree faster and make online learning cheaper.

Here are some online schools that are known to give work and life experience credit:

  • Albertus Magnus College
  • Central Michigan University
  • Colorado State University
  • DeSales University
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Linfield College
  • University of Memphis
  • Walsh University
  • Westfield State University
  • Wisconsin Lutheran College

Just Before You Earn a Bachelor’s Degree Online

Traditionally, it will take you four years to get a bachelor’s degree. But if you choose to earn it by attending an online school, you can get your hands on it in just two to three years.

As a general rule of thumb, the more classes you take per term and the faster you complete your coursework, the quicker you can get your bachelor’s degree online.

It’s even possible to earn it in about a year only, thanks to accelerated bachelor’s degrees on the web!

Still, it’s a must that you invest plenty of your time and effort to earn a bachelor’s degree online. After all, it’s not just a piece of paper that you should be after but also the knowledge and skillset you will need to land your dream job.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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