Fast Online Degrees: How to Find the Perfect Program

The standard four-year bachelor’s degree program is not for everyone. For many years, people from all walks of life have benefited from earning an fast bachelor’s degree, both online and in person.

But, as with most things, there are a few things you should know before enrolling in one of these programs. You must not only understand what fast online degrees’ entail, but you must also understand how they appear on a resume and how to find the fast degree program that is right for you.

No more worries, we’ve got your back. We’ll cover the following topics to provide you with the information you need to select programs that allow you to get quick and easy online or in-person degrees:

  • Define an fast degree program
  • The various types of fast degree programs, such as fast online degrees, fast in-person degrees, and combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs
  • What distinguishes fast bachelor’s degree programs from traditional four-year bachelor’s degree programs (and why knowing the difference matters)
  • Examples of quick and simple online degrees as well as fast in-person degrees obtained through six different programs
  • Considerations when selecting an fast degree program

After reading our guide to quick degree programs, you should feel confident in your ability to sift through the many options available and take charge of your path to a college degree.

Let us now get to work!

What Exactly Is a Bachelor’s Degree Acceleration? Everything from online to in-person to everything in between

Perhaps you need to get a bachelor’s degree online as soon as possible. Perhaps you’re looking for a way to earn a bachelor’s degree in 12 months or less, or a more time-efficient way to earn your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Whatever your goals are, navigating the terminology surrounding fast or fast degree programs can be quite confusing!

This is due to the fact that there are numerous types of fast degree programs, and not all of them are created equal. And, of course, they can vary greatly in terms of cost, time commitment, and the end result that you—the student—will receive. In fact, deciding on an fast degree program necessitates the same amount of research and planning as committing to a traditional four-year degree.

It’s critical that you understand the various terminology associated with fast and fast degree programs so that you don’t get yourself into a financial commitment that you didn’t want to make in the first place.

Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted definition of an fast or fast degree program—these terms can mean a variety of things. In general, an fast degree program is one that allows students to earn a college degree in less than four years by providing options such as more flexible schedules, online enrollment, and shorter courses.

Following that, we’ll discuss the key differences between fast degree programs and traditional four-year bachelor’s degree programs. This will give you a sense of what your experience will be like in the fast lane!



5 Significant Distinctions Between Fast and Traditional Bachelor’s Degree Programs

There are many differences between fast degree programs and traditional degree programs, but we’ll focus on the five that we believe will be most important in your decision about which type of degree program is best for you.

These five distinctions can be divided into three categories: time and nature of course completion, admissions requirements and cost, and campus and classroom culture. Though pursuing a fast degree program will differ from the traditional four-year experience, there may be some advantages, which we will discuss further below!

#1: Degree Completion Timeline

You now understand that if you enroll in a “fast” or “fast” degree program, you will most likely complete your bachelor’s degree in less than four years.

But how long does it take to finish an fast bachelor’s degree program? The average time to completion for online programs is 12 to 18 months. There are exceptions—the time to completion varies greatly between schools and programs—but a year to a year and a half is pretty standard for fast online degrees in the United States. If you enroll in an in-person fast program, your time to degree will be shorter.

#2: Course Outline

At first glance, enrolling in an fast degree program appears to be a no-brainer. After all, you’re earning the same degree—a bachelor’s degree—as people who attend college for four years (or five, or six…). So, what’s the drawback?

Colleges and universities do not award easy degrees simply because you want to get your bachelor’s degree online quickly. You’ll have to do roughly the same amount of work as a student completing their degree in four years…but you’ll have less time to do it. As a result, fast programs typically offer shorter terms for course completion and more terms in a calendar year.

The fall and spring semesters are typically sixteen weeks long in traditional four-year degree programs at universities, which means that students enroll in a set number of sixteen-week courses. Students pursuing four-year degrees typically take between 12 and 18 credit hours per sixteen-week semester.

These time frames are handled differently in fast programs, particularly fast online bachelor degree programs. For starters, they don’t typically divide their course offerings into sixteen-week semesters. Instead, fast degree programs frequently offer terms ranging from four to eight weeks in length, then offer more of these shorter terms in a calendar year.

That is, fast degree programs typically offer more terms than traditional degree programs, which typically have two semesters in an academic year. This allows students to take far more courses than they could in a traditional degree program.

Here’s an illustration of how that might work: Assume you’re pursuing your fast bachelor’s degree online and enroll in 12 credit hours in a four-week term, then repeat the process twice in a sixteen-week period. You could earn twice as many course credits as a student enrolled in a traditional degree program who enrolls in 12 hours for a sixteen-week semester. Shorter terms are ideal for students who want or need to complete their online degrees in a year or year and a half! 



#3: Requirements for Admission

You’re probably also curious about the requirements for admission to an fast degree program. Every program has some sort of admissions requirement, and fast programs are no exception. Admissions requirements will vary depending on the degree and type of fast program you wish to pursue, so let’s take a look at some of those variations.

To begin, almost all fast bachelor’s degree programs, like traditional degree programs, will require a high school diploma.

This criterion may be even more stringent for degrees in professional fields. Assume you want to enroll in a program that allows you to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 12 months. A degree program like that will almost certainly require you to have either a two-year associate’s degree or some college credits already under your belt. These college credits may be regarded as “prerequisite courses” for a professional program such as nursing.

To determine what requirements you must meet in order to be admitted to an fast program, you must conduct thorough research on the program itself. We also recommend that you speak with someone in the school’s admissions department before applying to ensure that you have all of the necessary information.

#4: Costs of the Program

The cost of a traditional four-year degree versus an fast degree program is also a consideration.

Students enrolled in traditional degree programs must pay for a variety of additional expenses in addition to tuition. There are room and board fees, student activities fees, transportation fees, and many other fees.

Some of these extra costs may be waived in an fast program. For example, with an online degree program, you will most likely not have to pay for room and board. (Or, at the very least, not to college!) However, there will be fees and textbook costs, which can vary greatly.

Irrespectively, you’ll want to speak with someone in admissions or student financial services to learn about the total cost of attendance for students in fast degree programs, as well as what you’ll have to pay for other than tuition.

#5: Campus and Classroom Culture

Isn’t college all about getting an education? However, for many students, especially those who are fresh out of high school, college is also about making new friends, having an exciting social life, living in campus dorms and eating in the dining hall, attending sporting events or joining Greek life, or participating in various clubs and organizations.

If you choose to complete an fast program, you will most likely miss out on experiencing all of those aspects of college life. That’s fine for many students! Some people simply need to get the degree, and they must be able to do so while working full-time, caring for family and children, or juggling other responsibilities that must take precedence over some of the social aspects of college life.

In an fast degree program, the classroom culture can also be quite different. Students pursuing four-year degrees and taking mostly in-person courses will have the opportunity to interact with their professors and classmates in person. That can have some advantages: students can ask questions as the material is presented in class, participate in real-time discussion of the course material, and benefit from the camaraderie that students can feel when they share a common—and sometimes difficult! —experience with peers.

Because many fast degree programs only offer online courses, the classroom dynamics differ slightly. The obvious difference is that you will not be learning the material in a classroom full of people. That doesn’t mean your professor and classmates won’t be available for questions and discussion. It simply means they’ll be available in various ways, such as online chats, discussion boards, and email.

Online courses also imply that your knowledge may be assessed in a variety of ways. You could be doing a lot more quizzes and tests than group projects or presentations. However, many online professors incorporate a variety of assessment styles into their courses as well. You might find yourself making a video presentation, collaboratively writing an essay in Google Docs, or sharing blog posts for your classmates to read!



How to Determine Whether an Fast Degree Program Is Right for You

To select an fast degree program, you must consider more factors than simply whether an option is the fastest. (Even though we know it’s tempting…) Here is a list of questions to ask when selecting an fast degree program:

  • Whether you want to — or are able to — enroll as a part-time or full-time student;
  • Whether you want to pursue an in-person or online degree program;
  • What type of institution to pursue (a four-year university, a community college, private vs. public university);
  • Your financial situation and how you want to finance your degree;
  • What subject you want to study or what field you want to pursue.

Let’s go over these concepts in greater detail now!

Time Commitment

First, consider your responsibilities and commitments in light of the compressed time frame of fast programs. In an fast degree program, you’ll most likely have to complete a lot more schoolwork and show results on quizzes and exams a lot more frequently in a shorter period of time. That means that completing an fast program may be more difficult if you already have a lot on your plate. Consider whether this time commitment will work for you in light of the other things you have going on in your life!


Learning Style

Do you learn better when you’re talking to other people, or when you read something from a book? These are only two examples of various learning styles! There is no better learning style than another, but fast degree programs, especially those that are online, cater to people who prefer fast-paced, independent learning environments. Some people, for example, prefer to fully immerse themselves in a couple of subjects for a shorter period of time, which is the style of coursework in an fast program. However, some people struggle to process material in such a fast-paced environment, especially if the material is complex or requires you to learn a new skill.


The Classroom Setting and “The College Experience”

Even if the compressed timeline suits your learning style, you should consider whether learning online or in person is better for you. Some students require face-to-face interaction with their professors and classmates in order to be held accountable and to boost their morale. Others prefer a high level of independence as well as the ability to contact their professor and classmates as needed.

Furthermore, if you value the other benefits that a four-year college provides (such as networking, extracurricular activities, and volunteer opportunities), being in an fast program may feel like you’re missing out. If that’s the case, you should look into scholarships and four-year degree programs that are within your financial means.


Finances and Cost

It’s also important to consider how the shortened time frame of an fast degree program will affect your finances. Many fast degree programs have a “pay as you go” or “pay by the course” policy, which sounds great…until you consider that you might be taking eight courses in two months. That can quickly add up, so you should consider how much of a financial burden you can bear before enrolling in a one-year degree program.

Finally, many universities offer fast degree programs in a variety of fields of study! Students who feel the need to complete their degree quickly may choose a field of study or career path based on what they can complete the quickest. However, there is likely an fast degree program available in a field of study in which you have prior experience or which piques your interest, so invest some time in researching different options—it will be worthwhile in the end.



6 Examples of Fast Degree Programs

We’d like to show you some examples of fast degree programs at various higher education institutions so you can get a sense of what your options are. All of the colleges and universities on our list are nonprofit, regionally and nationally accredited, and are generally well-respected institutions known for providing a quality education to their students.

Furthermore, each institution or program on this list puts its own spin on the fast degree, whether it’s through quick online degrees, a bachelor’s degree in 12 months, or a fast combined bachelor’s and master’s degree. (Recall how we said they’re all unique? We really meant it!) So we’ll give you an overview of what the path to a specific degree looks like at each of these institutions, as well as specifics about admissions requirements and cost of attendance.


#1: Fast Bachelor of Science in Nursing, University of Washington-Seattle Campus

The ABSN (Fast Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program at the University of Washington is a full-time program divided into four quarters that begin in the fall and end in the spring. That means it’s a one-year program, so you’ll be able to complete this degree in 12 months. However, if you’re looking for an online fast-track nursing program, you should look elsewhere. The University of Washington’s ASBN does not provide any “distance learning,” which is code for online courses.

So, who is an ideal candidate for this program? The ASBN is designed for people with a bachelor’s degree who want to pursue a second career in nursing. If you have a degree but want to pursue a different career, this fast-track program may be for you.

Here’s a quick rundown of the admission requirements and prerequisites: Prior to enrolling in the ASBN, you must have earned a baccalaureate degree in a non-nursing field, maintained a minimum college-level GPA of 2.8, completed several science-related courses with a specific minimum GPA, and accumulated a minimum of 100 hours of paid or volunteer healthcare experience in one setting in a three-month time frame in the year prior to enrolling in the ABSN.

In terms of tuition, the University of Washington’s ASBN program charges $10,171 per quarter. On their website, the program lists other required fees, additional costs to consider, and available financial assistance opportunities.

You’re probably assuming that this is the type of fast degree program that necessitates a stellar prior academic record as well as a willingness to work hard. If you have a bachelor’s degree and are looking for a quick way to change careers, UW’s ASBN is a good example of the type of program that might be right for you. Check out their FAQs to learn more about the ASBN at UW.


#2: Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Southern New Hampshire University

If you want to work in accounting, you can get a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) through their online accounting degree program.

SNHU’s online accounting degree program isn’t as fast as the nursing program we discussed earlier, but it does provide some options that may allow you to tailor your degree completion to your schedule.

At first, SNHU’s online accounting program offers six 8-week terms per year, allowing you to complete more courses in a 12-month period. If you work hard and take several courses during each eight-week term, you should be able to finish your degree in less than four years.

Second, up to 90 undergraduate transfer credits are accepted by SNHU’s online degree program. That’s one-third of the credits required for graduation! If you started a degree but didn’t finish it, or if you have a lot of AP course credits, SNHU’s online accounting program will accept them. Transfer credits from another accredited institution, in addition to taking advantage of the six eight-week terms per year, could help you complete your degree at SNHU even faster.

Finally, SNHU’s online accounting program offers a bachelor’s-to-degree master’s program. That is, you can take master’s-level courses at the undergraduate tuition rate while completing your bachelor’s degree through this fast-track program. In other words, the courses will be less expensive, and you will be able to complete your master’s degree faster. If you already know you want to get a master’s degree, SNHU is an affordable option.

SNHU is a private, non-profit institution. The tuition for the online undergraduate accounting degree program is $960 per course and $320 per credit hour. check out their website to learn more about the goals of their online accounting program, the requirements for admission into the bachelor’s-to-fast-track master’s program, and the cost of attendance.



#3: Information Science and Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

If you want to get a bachelor’s degree online quickly, UW Flexible Options has a model that may be a good fit for you. The Information Science and Technology (IST) program offered by UW Flexible Options allows you to work at your own pace in an online format, giving you a lot of freedom and flexibility.

UW Flexible Options degree programs are typically a good fit for students who have other responsibilities to balance, such as family life and work obligations. According to the program’s website, the UW Flexible Options program is best suited for individuals with prior professional experience in IT, or who are currently working in the field and have completed some college, technical school, or certification program in the IT world.

One cool feature of the University of Washington’s Flexible Option program is that it allows students to tailor their degree plans based on the transfer credits they’re bringing in and their career goals. Students are also encouraged to work at their own pace to complete the program. If you want a high degree of flexibility and already know what you want to do with your life, the IST degree through UW’s Flexible Options program could be a good fit.

The best part about UW’s Flexible Option program is that instead of paying tuition by course or credit, you have the option to pay a flat rate for a three-month subscription “competency sets” at your own pace. The “All-You-Can-Learn” subscription option, for example, costs $2250. You could complete multiple competency sets instead of just one during the three-month subscription period.

This essentially means that you can use all of the learning materials included in the subscription packet you paid for, and when you demonstrate mastery of a skill or competency, you will receive credit. It makes no difference if it takes you two weeks or two months to demonstrate mastery! If you can work at a steady pace and demonstrate mastery of more skill sets in a single three-month subscription period, you’re basically getting more out of your tuition and finishing your degree faster.

So, if getting your bachelor’s degree online quickly is your main priority, UW’s Flexible Options program is probably the best option on our list.

Because the format and requirements for the UW Flexible Options program are nontraditional, it may appear confusing at first. Check out the FAQs page on the UW Flexible Options website for more information and a thorough explanation of the Flexible Options program, subscription packets, and competency sets.


#4: Online Bachelor of Science in Marketing, Louisiana State University

The online bachelor of science in marketing program at Louisiana State University (LSU) is a quick online degree program that will allow you to finish your bachelor’s degree sooner.

LSU’s online Bachelor of Science in Marketing, like the other programs on our list, accepts a large amount of transfer credit. Unlike some of the other programs on our list, LSU’s program is also suitable for first-year college students. The university’s Career Services office and hands-on professors are eager to offer the advice and support that new college students are likely to require.

LSU’s website is extremely user-friendly: they provide a list of options that allow students to select their specific admission type and learn about the admission requirements that apply to their situation. Their “Calendar” section also lists the next application deadline and class start date, so prospective students interested in the program know when they can begin.

Pay-as-you-go tuition is available for LSU’s online BS in Marketing, and the tuition is quite reasonable when compared to many other programs: $284 per credit hour. For a complete tuition breakdown for the B.S. in Marketing online program, visit LSU’s website.

The only disadvantage is that the degree requires a significant amount of coursework. To earn the degree, you must complete 120 credit hours, but the program offers multiple start dates per year, allowing you to fit more coursework into a 12-month period.



#5: Online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, Bellevue University

The online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design degree program at Bellevue University has some advantages that the other programs on our list do not. In contrast to some of the other programs on our list, you do not need any prior college course credit or professional experience to be admitted to this program. So, if you’re fresh out of high school or getting your GED, this online program might be a good fit for you.

If you choose to complete the BA in Graphic Design program online, you will pay more per credit hour at Bellevue. Tuition for online courses is $425 per credit hour. The BA in Graphic Design program at Bellevue University requires 127 total credits for degree completion, making it one of the more expensive options on our list. However, their website is a little more ambiguous about how transfer credits work than that of some other institutions. They advise prospective students to speak with an admissions counselor to determine which credits are transferable.

Bellevue’s online BA in Graphic Design program is probably the best example of a program on our list that will have some “hidden” costs that you should be aware of before enrolling. According to the university’s website, the online Graphic Design degree program requires “industry standard graphic design software and hardware.” The website’s “Curriculum” page goes into greater detail about these technology requirements, which you should definitely review before deciding to enroll!


#6: PlusOne B.S./M.S. in Civil Engineering, Northeastern University

Northeastern University, like Southern New Hampshire University, provides students with the opportunity to accelerate completion of the bachelor’s degree by applying graduate credits earned as an undergraduate toward both the undergraduate and graduate degrees. At Northwestern, this is known as the PlusOne program, and the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering are just two of the many degree programs available.

This option is probably the closest to a traditional four-year bachelor’s program on this list. If you’re looking for a way to complete a master’s degree quickly rather than a bachelor’s degree quickly, the PlusOne degree program options might be right for you.

So, how does the PlusOne program function? Students can earn up to 16 credits toward a bachelor’s and master’s degree by enrolling in the PlusOne program, allowing them to complete their master’s degree one year sooner than they would in a traditional master’s program. In the PlusOne program, you’d have five years to complete both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The PlusOne program would also be a more cost-effective option. Because the 16 credits count toward both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees, you’ll be paying for fewer classes! And here’s another plus (no pun intended): when students successfully complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in their field in the PlusOne program, they are guaranteed admission to their graduate degree program.

In addition to the B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering, Northeastern offers a variety of PlusOne programs. If civil engineering isn’t for you, but you’re interested in the PlusOne program, check out the PlusOne website’s extensive program listings!



3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Quick Degree Program

We’ve already discussed how perplexing it can be to sort through the many different options for fast degree programs. On top of everything we’ve already discussed, we’d like to share three things to keep an eye out for or investigate as you select a program, college, or university to pursue a degree through.

The unfortunate truth about higher education in the United States is that not all of them have your best interests at heart. Some are even regarded as predatory! We want you to be able to identify bad eggs for yourself and determine whether a school or institution has everything you need to succeed. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of three things to look out for when researching fast online degrees.

#1: Say No to For-Profit Colleges

This is our most serious warning: avoid fast-track degree programs at for-profit colleges! When you do an Internet search for a fast bachelor’s degree online, for instance, the very first results are often advertisements for for-profit colleges.

What exactly is a for-profit college? For-profit colleges are typically owned and operated by private corporations or shareholders who expect to profit from you, the student. Profitable schools sell a product: education. And who are the clients? Students who enroll in and pay for their education The primary goal of for-profit colleges is to make money. That is why we advise you to look for a program at a nonprofit college or university instead.

Also, keep in mind that you can Google any college, university, or program to see if it is for profit. We strongly advise you to do this before becoming too invested in the idea of a specific program or university—it will save you time, money, and heartache in the long run.

#2: Check to see if the program is accredited

Before enrolling in any degree program at any college or university, ensure that the institution and program are regionally and nationally accredited. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that the education provided by higher education institutions and programs meets acceptable quality standards.

Confidence of knowing the institution or program you’re enrolling in is accredited is important because employers may question your career readiness and education quality if they see you have a degree from an unaccredited institution or program. Furthermore, students enrolled in unaccredited institutions are ineligible for federal financial aid, and if you ever want to transfer to an accredited school, they will most likely reject your credits.

So, how can you avoid accidentally enrolling in an unaccredited institution or program? Though the United States Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions or programs, it does review all federally recognized accrediting agencies and keeps a database of accredited schools and federally recognized accrediting agencies. If you are unsure about a school’s accreditation status or the legitimacy of its accrediting agencies, you can look them up in the government database.


#3: Find Out Everything You Need to Know About Attendance Fees

After reading our list of six fast degree programs, you’ve probably realized that each fast degree program is unique: there are different admission requirements, enrollment periods and term lengths, transfer credit rules…and different fees you must pay to enroll as a student.

If you’re pursuing a quick bachelor’s degree online through an institution, it may appear that you shouldn’t have to pay any fees other than tuition per credit hour. Unfortunately, even if you are doing distance education, there are almost always additional fees that you must pay in order to enroll in a degree program. To avoid being surprised with a bill, carefully read all of the online information about the cost of attendance for the degree program you’re considering.

You should also consider additional costs for materials or supplies that you may require that you will not have to pay the college or university for, but that are required for your degree to be completed successfully. This could be a laptop or computer, headphones, eBooks, or subscription packets to learning modules.

Adding up all of the costs, including the “hidden” ones, will relieve a lot of stress once you’ve started your degree program and don’t want money worries hanging over your head.

Another thing we recommend in terms of finances is that you contact the financial aid office at the institution where you plan to enroll. Many students believe that there are no scholarships or other financial aid opportunities available for students pursuing an online bachelor’s degree, but this is not always the case. Make phone calls, send emails, and inquire. You might come across a fantastic funding opportunity that will help you save money as you finish your degree!



What Follows?

Do you have a desire for speed? If so, you might be interested in our guide to quickly increasing your high school GPA. We also have crammable tips to help you prepare for the SAT (and ACT) in 10 days.

Applying for scholarships is one of the most important aspects of paying for college. Don’t squander your free money! We have guides to help you apply for – and win! – major scholarships from companies like Tylenol and Walmart. (We also have a comprehensive guide to the Gates Scholarship!)

If you want to get the most out of your time at a four-year university, you should consider double majoring. Learn more about double majoring by clicking here.