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What Are the Different Types of Fast Track Degree Programs?

By K. Kinsella
Updated May 17, 2024
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In many countries, undergraduate college degree programs typically last for three or four years. Some educational establishments offer fast track degree programs that enable students to obtain degrees much more quickly than through conventional courses. Many fast track degree programs enable students to substitute academic study for work experience. Other programs involve students taking classes year round and some universities offer courses which involve students enrolling in classes that are worth more credit hours than conventional undergraduate courses.

Some universities market fast track degree programs to seasoned professionals who may have completed some college units prior to beginning their careers. These universities award students college credits that are based upon work experience. Someone who has worked in the financial services field for several years may be awarded a certain number of college credit hours based upon that work experience. Having placed a college credit value on each student's work experience, the college arranges for the students to take the necessary classes to complete a degree. In some instances, people can reduce their academic workload significantly by enrolling in these types of fast track degree programs.

Traditionally, colleges in many countries have had two or three semesters per year and students have been able to take study breaks lasting weeks or even months between semesters. Some universities offer year round study courses which mean that breaks between semesters often last for just a few days. By reducing these breaks, colleges can reduce a three of four-year degree program into a course that may last for just two years. Students must complete the same amount of work as four-year degree students by attending more classes on a daily and weekly basis.

In addition to classroom based fast track degree programs, some universities offer online courses. Lessons are often self-paced, and students can complete lessons as and when they choose. Someone with ample time could conceivably complete a semester's worth of study within a period of a few months. Therefore, online programs are often marketed as fast track degrees.

Most universities award students a set number of college credit hours for each class that they complete, but some educational establishments offer advanced classes on complex topics and students enrolled in these lessons earn more college credits per class than their counterparts who enroll in standard classes. Additionally, some universities award students college credits for obtaining industry certifications or licenses. Rules on college credits vary between regions and in some instances, employers may not recognize these fast track college degrees as legitimate programs.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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