As the name implies, accelerated degree programs are designed to be completed in a shorter period of time compared to a two or four-year degree. For individuals looking for career advancement or perhaps to shift careers entirely, it is a viable option to consider.
There are various pros and cons, however. This article will serve as a guide to understanding more about accelerated degree programs and if you should consider pursuing one. Make sure you do enough research before committing to any type of post-secondary program. Don’t feel rushed to make a decision. Seek out the best fit for your budget and determine if the investment (degree program) is worth your time and money.
Saving Time and Money
Most accelerated programs can be completed within 12 to 18 months. In some cases, certain programs (like science and healthcare) may require additional time for labs or other required outside internships. Keep in mind, this will vary from institution from institution as well as from program to program, so make sure to do your research and and planning as early as possible.
If you have transferable credits from previous accredited institutions or the ability to test out of some classes, this time frame can be even shorter. For example, with AP tests, some institutions will provide credit for a satisfactory score instead of requiring you to enroll in their introductory course. This can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in tuition.
It’s also worth reviewing your old transcripts and reaching out to degree programs to start the conversation. Reach out early to admissions departments and determine if you’ve already satisfied some degree requirements.
Potential Career Benefits
There are obvious benefits to accelerated degree programs. Perhaps the biggest benefit is the ability to earn a degree at a faster pace. For some, earning an accelerated degree can help propel or boost a career in a more timely fashion. It can help negotiate a higher salary when applying for jobs. It’s not uncommon for programs to be offered on a rolling basis — sometimes even multiple times per year. As you’re working to obtain your degree, it is possible to include your intended graduation date and degree program on a resume. This signals to potential employers your recent coursework, focus, and marketability.
As mentioned above, because of the accelerated timeline, this usually results in paying lower tuition rates and other costs associated with going to school. For someone looking to change their path or find a specific focus, these degree programs can a viable option to consider.
Drawbacks of Accelerated Programs
Make no mistake: these degree programs can have their own set of challenges. Be skeptical of degree programs that seem too good to be true.
Getting admitted into an accelerated program is not an easy feat. One should anticipate a high-bar for being admitted and expect to be held to high-standards throughout the program’s duration.
Because of their faster pace, accelerated degree programs can have strenuous workloads. As such, it is important for the applicant to be a disciplined and focused learner. Taking classes online is different than an in-person lecture. With more autonomy, you have the choice of when to read, study, work on assignments, write research papers, and so on. If you’re able to manage your time effectively and thrive as a self-learner, perhaps an accelerated degree program is a good fit for you.
In summary, accelerated bachelor’s degrees are a faster path to a traditional bachelor’s program. Typically these programs are a good fit for professionals looking to advance or change their career, as well as motivated students. Programs also exist for students who previously enrolled in school, but did not yet graduate. It’s worth reviewing all your options before choosing an accelerated program.