What Is an Accelerated Bachelor's Degree?

by Stephanie Thurrott

If you’re working toward your bachelor’s degree, you’ve probably heard it referred to as a “four-year degree.” Sometimes, people call colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees “four-year schools.”

The traditional time frame for completing a bachelor’s degree is indeed four years, but not everyone goes at the same pace. And while most significant milestones have an expected time frame, flexibility is key to personal success.

If you want to earn your degree more quickly, you might consider an accelerated bachelor’s degree, also known as an accelerated professional degree or accelerated degree completion program.

What Is an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree?

An accelerated bachelor’s degree is a fast-paced academic experience designed to help you graduate more quickly. These programs are usually structured so you can earn your degree in three years or less.

They’re rigorous since they cover the same amount of material in less time. Accelerated programs may be offered in person, online, or in hybrid formats, but they may not be available for every major. Many schools offer them in accounting, business, marketing, communications, computer science, health care, and nursing.

Degree completion programs are a type of accelerated bachelor’s degree for students who already have some college credit. If you have an associate degree or started college but had to interrupt your studies, a degree completion program may help you finish your bachelor’s degree more quickly.

How Do Accelerated Degree Programs Work?

In general, these programs work by condensing the classes you need to complete to earn a bachelor’s degree into a shorter time frame. Some colleges offer asynchronous online classes so you can complete your degree at your own pace. Others offer classes that only last five to 10 weeks instead of the typical 15 or 16 weeks. Some include year-round courses that allow you to study in the summer (and possibly over winter break) in addition to traditional semesters.

Are Accelerated Degrees Viewed the Same as Traditional Degrees?

Many employers want to know where you earned your degree, what you majored in, and possibly your GPA. The time it took for you to complete your degree likely won’t factor into their decision to hire you. If anything, some employers might view accelerated degrees as a positive sign since they suggest you’re highly motivated and hard-working.

Are You a Good Candidate for an Accelerated Degree?

To earn an accelerated degree, you need to be self-motivated and determined. Accelerated degree programs are also a great option for people who’ve already earned college credits, such as students transferring in from community colleges.

If you have credits for life experiences, have served in the military, or have previous work experience, you may also find you’re prepared for the demands of this type of program. Just make sure you have a clear idea of your career goals and what you want to major in, since accelerated programs don’t generally build in the flexibility to explore different fields or change your major.

What Are the Benefits of an Accelerated Professional Degree?

You might want to finish your college coursework more quickly for several reasons:

Advance in Your Career Sooner

Whether you’re already employed and are looking to move forward in your career or you’re entering the workforce, you’ll get started earlier with an accelerated degree.

Start on Your Own Schedule

Accelerated degree programs often allow you to begin your coursework several times during the year, rather than waiting for the traditional fall and spring start dates.

Spend Less on Tuition

Education costs are usually lower in accelerated programs.

Enjoy Flexible Classes

Courses within accelerated programs are often designed to work better with your schedule. They may fit around your work or family obligations more easily than traditional classes.

Is an Accelerated Degree at APU Right for You?

Azusa Pacific University offers degree completion programs in nursing, alcohol and drug counseling, business, criminal justice, digital media and communication, and psychology. Learn more about how these programs can work into your schedule and advance your career.