Accelerated Bachelor’s Program: Definition, Benefits, Disadvantages & Majors

An accelerated bachelor’s program is an educational option that takes 1-3 years to complete compared to at least 4 years for a traditional bachelor’s program. The classes are concentrated and more intense, lasting just 5-10 weeks. Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs are either entirely online or a blend of online and in-person classes. 

An accelerated program is a good fit for those who have already earned some credits or have an associate’s degree and for those engaged in a career and are looking for advancement or a career change. A wide range of degrees in business, healthcare, science and technology, liberal arts and other fields are offered through accelerated bachelor’s programs.  

Key benefits of an accelerated bachelor’s program are making more efficient use of your time and getting a degree faster, so that you can pursue your career goals more quickly. Earning an accelerated degree also shows employers that you are motivated, manage time well and can succeed in a fast-paced environment. Potential disadvantages include a heavy workload, stress, and little time for other pursuits.

What is An Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Program?

An accelerated bachelor’s degree program is a course of study that allows students to complete their undergraduate degree in significantly less than the standard 4 years. The classwork is more intensive and often streamlined to include the most essential information.

Most accelerated bachelor’s degree programs are partly or completely online which allows students to complete them with minimal disruption to their schedule. Some programs use a hybrid approach with some classes requiring in-person attendance.

An accelerated degree program takes 1-3 years. The more credits the student already has, if any, when beginning an accelerated bachelor’s degree program, the more quickly the program can be completed.

A key reason that accelerated programs take less time than standard bachelor’s degrees is that classes are 5-10 weeks, though more intense, instead of the traditional 15 or 16 weeks.

Although it takes less time to complete, an accelerated degree is generally as valuable as a traditional degree when the degree is from an accredited college or university. Graduate schools and most employers consider an accelerated bachelor’s degree the same as a traditional 4-year bachelor’s degree.

What Are the Benefits of an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Program?

An accelerated bachelor’s degree program has many benefits related to shorter time, greater flexibility and lower cost. Here are the key advantages of entering an accelerated bachelor’s degree program.

  • Getting a Degree More Quickly: It takes 1-3 years to earn an accelerated bachelor’s degree instead of 4-5 years to get a bachelor’s degree in a traditional program.
  • Reduced Costs: Because accelerated programs take less time, they often cost less in total tuition and related cost.
  • Faster Career Start and Advancement: Getting a bachelor’s degree in 1-3 years allows you to enter a career and start making a salary more quickly. If you already have a career, then earning an accelerated bachelor’s degree allows for career advancement or career change sooner.
  • Getting Into Graduate School Sooner: The faster you complete your bachelor’s degree, the sooner you can be admitted to graduate programs. An accelerated program helps you do this.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Many accelerated programs have multiple start times throughout the year, which means you can begin classes when it is convenient for you. And many are online courses or a combination of online and in-person classes.
  • Less Disruption to Your Lifestyle: Because of the flexibility, you’ll experience minimal disruption to your life including your family and career while in an accelerated degree program. Because most are online, you won’t have to move.
  • Time Efficiency: Shorter classes enable you to make better use of your time. Some accelerated bachelor’s degree programs offer self-paced online courses that allow you to go at your own speed.
  • Increased Time Management Skills: Your time management skills will improve as you successfully complete shorter, intensive courses.
  • Demonstrates Commitment: Employers are often impressed by applicants who have shown the discipline and time management skills required to get an accelerated bachelor’s degree. The degree enhances your resume.
9 Benefits of an Accelerated Bachelors Degree

Can You Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships for an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree?

Yes, students in an accelerated bachelor’s degree program are eligible to apply for financial aid and for many scholarships, just as they would be in a traditional 4-year bachelor’s degree program. 

Financial aid options include federal financial aid, state financial aid and financial aid programs provided by the institution.

Merit based scholarships are available through private organizations, the military, employers and professional organizations. However, some scholarships are only offered to students taking enough credits to have full-time status in an accelerated or standard program.

What Are the Disadvantages of an Accelerated Bachelor’s Program?

The disadvantages of an accelerated bachelor’s degree program are related to the intensity of the coursework and the commitment necessary to complete it. These disadvantages include:

  • Heavy Workload: Reducing a 4-year education to 1-3 years requires intense focus and hard work. It can lead to a sense of imbalance between school and other priorities.  
  • The Need to Be Self-motivated and a Fast Learner: Since classes last only 5-10 weeks, you must be a self-starter who can grasp the course material quickly and be able to perform well on quizzes, tests and projects covering the information.
  • Stress: Many students find the intense course load of accelerated programs to be stressful and potentially cause physical or mental burnout.
  • Reduced Time for Other Things: Your social life and family life may suffer as a result of the intense focus required to be successful in an accelerated bachelor’s degree program.
  • Less In-person Education: Most accelerated degree programs are partially or fully online, so contact hours with instructors is often reduced.
  • A Narrower Education: Accelerated courses may provide only basic information needed to grasp the course concepts rather than a broader range of related material.
  • May Not Be Valued as Highly: While most graduate schools and employers consider a bachelor’s degree earned in an accelerated program to be just as valuable as a degree earned in a standard program, some could be skeptical because of the narrower scope of information covered.

What Are Available Majors for an Accelerated Bachelor Degree? 

Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs are offered in many fields including those popular with students and in high demand in the work world.

Accelerated bachelor’s degrees are offered in:

  • Healthcare: Nursing, public health, health care administration.
  • Social Science: Social work, social services, sociology, psychology.
  • Science and Technology: Computer science, information technology, applied science.
  • Business: Accounting, business administration, finance, marketing, public relations.
  • Education: General education, teaching.
  • Humanities and Arts: Communication, criminal justice, graphic design, history.

Not all bachelor’s degrees are available in accelerated programs. Degrees that include a large amount of practice or clinical work are not offered in accelerated bachelor’s programs. These include fine arts, performing arts, architecture, pharmacy, most engineering degrees, and science degrees that require a large amount of research.

6 Majors for an Accelerated Bachelor Degree

Who Is an Accelerated Bachelor’s Program Suitable For?

An accelerated bachelor’s program is a good choice for students with limited time to get a degree, those that have already earned credits from another source and those working people.

An accelerated bachelor’s degree program is suitable for:

  • Students with an associate degree or with a significant number of earned credits.
  • Part time students who have other pressing obligations.
  • Motivated, high-achieving students.
  • Students planning to apply to graduate school and wish to quickly complete their bachelor’s degree.
  • Working professionals including entrepreneurs, business owners and those in the military.
  • Adult learners that don’t fit the traditional college student model and may have work and family responsibilities to balance.
  • Those looking to make a career change as quickly as possible.

Can I Use CLEP to Shorten the Time It Takes to Finish an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Program?

Yes, you can use CLEP credits to complete most accelerated bachelor’s degree programs more quickly. 

In most cases, the CLEP credits must be achieved in general education or in fields of study that are required to complete the accelerated bachelor’s degree.

Each school has its own policy regarding the number of CLEP credits that can be applied toward an accelerated bachelor’s degree.

Do Accelerated Programs Accept Transfer Credits? 

Many accelerated programs accept transfer credits, but not all of them do. Each institution sets its own policy regarding transfer credits. In general, if the school accepts transfer credits for its standard degree programs, it will accept them for its accelerated degree programs.

Factors that determine whether transfer credits are accepted for the accelerated program include institutional policy about transfer credits, whether the school where the credits was earned is accredited, what subjects the credits were earned in, whether they are equivalent to courses required in the accelerated program and what grades were earned in those courses.

Discuss transfer credit policy with the admissions or academic office and prepare to submit transcripts if required for transfer credits to be accepted.

What Should I Choose If I Have Transfer Credits: Accelerated Bachelor’s Programs or Degree Completion Programs? 

Choosing between a degree completion program and an accelerated bachelor’s degree program is a unique decision for each student based on the number of credits you have earned, your life circumstances and the transfer policies of the school you plan to attend.

Choose an accelerated bachelor’s program if you want to get your bachelor’s degree faster in order to enter or advance in a career, have the ability to quickly grasp new concepts, have the time to commit to intensive course work and can handle the stress that comes with accelerated classes.

Choose a degree completion program if most or all of these factors apply – you have a large number of credits that transfer, want the full college experience including the social aspect, need flexibility to take classes at a slower pace in order to balance school, family or work obligations.

What Are the Differences Between Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Programs and Online Bachelor’s Programs?

Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs are a condensed form of education. They take 1-3 years to complete and classes are 5-10 weeks. Online bachelor’s programs usually take 3-5 years to complete, and classes last 15-16 weeks. There are typically fewer elective options in an accelerated program while a traditional online bachelor’s degree program gives students more electives.

An accelerated bachelor’s degree program is intensive and focused, leaving less time for leisure activities and other obligations. Online programs are less concentrated and give students the opportunity to be involved in other pursuits.

Online bachelor’s programs do not meet in person. Some accelerated bachelor’s degree programs are hybrid programs meaning that the coursework is a mix of online and in-person instruction. 

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