What Are Degree Completion Programs?

G. Wiesen

Degree completion programs are offered by colleges for students who have completed most of their education and simply want to finish it. A Bachelor of Arts (BA), for example, usually takes about four years to complete, and some students might only get through two or three years before leaving school. Degree completion programs can be used by these students to effectively complete an education. This type of curriculum is unlike transferring to a new school, however, in that it is based on the years of coursework a student completed, rather than on individual credits needed to graduate.

Degree completion programs help students complete required coursework that was left unfinished.
Degree completion programs help students complete required coursework that was left unfinished.

Much as their name suggests, degree completion programs are designed as a way for people to finish studies that were left incomplete. This commonly happens when a student finishes several years of coursework for a particular curriculum, but does not complete all of the classes necessary to graduate. Degree completion programs are usually designed for students who have finished at least half of the credits necessary for their studies. These plans often require only about one or two years to complete and grant the student a full degree.

The nature of the diploma awarded at the end of degree completion programs may be different from the one that a student was initially working on. Someone who finished three years of a BA in art, for example, may be able to find a school that offers a one-year program to complete the degree. After attending and completing these classes, then the student is awarded a degree, such as a Bachelor of Liberal Studies. While this is not the same as the BA that the student would have received by completing the initial program, it is still a college degree and may be easier to receive then finishing other courses.

Degree completion programs are not the same as a student simply transferring from one college to another to finish working on a diploma. These programs are created as entire curricula for any student, regardless of specific background. This means that someone who was working on a degree in writing and a student who studied art are likely to use the same curriculum to receive their final degree. Different colleges can have a range of requirements and policies that govern their degree completion programs, including the number of years that need to be completed prior to enrollment and the amount of credits required before graduation.

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