Can You Finish an Online Degree Early?

Ready to start your journey?

Finishing your online degree early may help save you money, allow you to jumpstart your career more quickly, or even help you qualify for pay increases.

Can You Finish an Online Degree Early

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

While it is possible to complete an online degree early, how quickly you can complete it will depend on the specific program and the policies of the online institution offering it.

Complete Your Degree Faster Through Accelerated Programs

student taking accelerated associate degree program

An associate’s degree is typically the fastest degree to get. It usually takes about 2 years of study. A bachelor’s degree typically takes about 4 years. With accelerated programs, though, you may be able to significantly shorten these timeframes.

Some colleges also offer specific accelerated associate degree programs designed to be completed in around 18 months. An accelerated bachelor’s degree program may be reduced to as little as 3 years.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Another popular option is a combined or “2+2” program, where students earn both an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree in typically 4 years.

In one of these combined programs, you may spend 2 years completing an associate degree at a community college and then transfer to a 4 year institution to complete the final 2 years of a bachelor’s degree.

Community colleges often have lower tuition rates than 4 year colleges and universities, so spending the first 2 years at a community college can usually save you money. Plus, if circumstances change after the first 2 years, you’ll have an associate degree to fall back on.

While the potential to earn a degree faster is appealing, accelerated programs can be intense. They require significant commitment and strong time management skills. It’s important that you look deeper into the pros and cons of accelerated degree programs to make an informed decision.

What Are the Factors That Can Accelerate Your Education Course Flexibility and Availability?

college student taking an online program

Many online programs are designed so you can move through the material quickly if you have the time and can handle the workload.

The pace you can complete your coursework is a large factor in how fast you can get a psychology degree online.

Instead of sticking to a strict semester schedule, you may be able to move on to the next subject as soon as you have a good grasp of the material. This is a key feature of accelerated programs that can help you finish your degree fast!

These programs let you take classes all year round, unlike traditional programs that only have classes in the fall and spring. They also have summer classes, and courses have start dates offered multiple times throughout the year.

It’s important to note that finishing your degree early through online learning can be challenging. You want to ensure you’re not just racing through. You must understand the material and keep your grades up as well!

We recommend checking in with your advisor to see if an accelerated program is a good fit for you.

Transfer Credits

student starting a new course online

When you think of going back to school or starting a new course, you may imagine that you’ll be starting from scratch. If you have some college-level courses under your belt, this may not be the case.

How do transfer credits work? Say you’ve taken college courses at another institution. If these align with your new online program, they may be counted toward your degree. This may be a shortcut through some of your new program’s general education or foundational requirements.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Many colleges and universities only accept transfer credits for courses in which you’ve earned a particular grade, often a C or higher. You’ll need to have all the necessary paperwork (including official transcripts and course syllabi) to help your new institution determine how to apply your credits.

Not all credits are transferable. For example, credits from courses taken too long ago may not be eligible for transfer. You can speak with your department’s administration to determine which credits are eligible for transfer.

Competency-Based Programs

studying studying a competency-based program

In traditional academic programs, progress is often measured by the time you spend “in-seat,” meaning completing courses over semesters or quarters.

In competency-based programs, progress is determined by demonstrating specific skills or knowledge, referred to as “competencies,” rather than by time spent in class. You can progress by proving you’ve mastered a particular skill or area of expertise through work experience, military service, or self-study.

You may show competency through:

  • Tests
  • Projects
  • Portfolios
  • Other forms of assessment

You may connect with your advisor to see what other ways you can prove competency and earn credit for your real-life experience.

The Road Ahead

student finishing an online course early

Finishing an online course early is typically an achievable goal given the flexibility and array of options available online.

To do so, it’s essential to clearly understand your chosen program’s structure and requirements, maintain discipline and motivation, and seek guidance from academic advisors.

Thinking about accelerating your education or just exploring your options? You can check out My College Guide for more information! We have decades of experience providing expert advice to help you navigate the complexities of college selection.

If you’re ready to get started, our website has many resources to help you start planning your future today!

Ready to start your journey?
Isaac Scott
WRITTEN BY Isaac Scott

Isaac has a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. His primary focus is accredited schools offering degrees online or in a hybrid format.