What Are the Different Types of Accelerated Online Degree Programs?

K'Lee Banks

Today’s students benefit not only from the convenience and flexibility of online education, but also from accelerated online degree programs. Eager learners may choose from a number of different types of accelerated online degree programs. These include all levels of degrees: certificates, career diplomas, associate's, bachelor's, master’s, and doctoral degrees. These programs also range widely in field of interest and career focus. For example, students may choose programs within the fields of business, criminal justice, education, health, psychology, and nearly any other area that traditional colleges offer.

Some accelerated degree programs allow students to complete an associate's degree in as little as one year.
Some accelerated degree programs allow students to complete an associate's degree in as little as one year.

Accelerated online degree programs, as the name implies, offer students a means to speed up the time required to earn degrees. For example, whereas traditional associate’s degree programs typically require two years to complete, students may complete accelerated online associate’s degree programs in as little as one year to 20 months. Likewise, students can complete accelerated online bachelor’s degree programs in two to three years, instead of four; master’s degree programs in one year to 18 months, instead of two years or more; and doctoral degree programs in three to four years, instead of five or six years.

Traditional degree programs, completed on-site, have established hours, days, and semesters for attendance and participation. Online degree programs usually offer students the opportunity to enroll and begin classes at any time throughout the year, with ongoing access to learning materials at any time of day or night. Accelerated online degree programs improve upon those features by providing students with the option to participate in accelerated learning, allowing them to complete their education in a fraction of the time traditionally required.

Advanced online degree programs are typically offered at graduate levels, including master’s and doctoral degree programs. Many graduate level degree programs are available online, in numerous career fields. The majority of advanced online degree programs require students to meet on-site at different periods during the program to fulfill residency requirements, while other programs are fully online. Even at advanced levels, many of these are available as accelerated degree programs.

Learners should be aware that these programs are rigorous, and not suitable for everyone. Students interested in accelerated education must be aware of the requirements, so they can obtain favorable results. Discipline, time management, organization, and commitment are requirements for successful completion of accelerated online degree programs. These qualities are true for online education as a whole, and even more so for this type of learning.

Students who persevere and earn these degrees will usually find that the experience is worthwhile and often grants them a competitive edge in their respective career fields. While other students may still be in the process of pursuing degrees on a traditional schedule, for example, accelerated learners could already have their degrees, and land promotions or acquire new positions. Accelerated online degree programs are well worth it for those students willing to pursue them.

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