How Fast Can You Get an Associate’s Degree Online?

Ready to start your journey?

Online degrees have revolutionized learning by allowing students to choose the fastest degree program to achieve their goals and enroll anywhere in the world. This is a boon for adult learners, who often must balance their studies with other responsibilities.

How Fast Can You Get an Associate’s Degree Online

Many online programs are designed to be asynchronous, meaning they do not hold live classes, and in some cases, they do not follow a traditional semester or quarter structure. This self-paced approach can help learners absorb course material better because they may complete challenging content at their own pace.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Ahead of the curve? Quick learners may be able to accelerate their degree completion with these programs.

How Long Does It Typically Take to Complete Your Degree?

student completing his associates degree online

In the United States, a student’s higher learning progress is measured by “credit hours.” This quantifies the time spent toward earning your degree.

In a typical undergraduate institution, one credit hour corresponds to one hour spent in a structured educational situation, such as a lecture or a lab, per week for a semester.

An associate’s degree generally requires the completion of approximately 60 semester credit hours. This usually translates to about 2 academic years — about 20 to 24 months.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

A bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, usually takes 4 academic years —approximately 32 to 36 months of study. This assumes classes are not being taken over the summer.

This figure can vary slightly depending on the specific program or institution, but it is a standard benchmark.

When considering an associate’s or bachelor’s degree through online learning, the fundamental academic structure remains the same. For instance, if you are wondering how fast it is to get a teaching degree online, it will usually take 4 years because it is typically a bachelor’s degree.

How to Finish Your Degree More Quickly

student finishing his degree online
You may be able to speed up the time it takes to earn your degree in a variety of ways.

Take as Many Courses as You Can Handle

With the flexibility of online learning, you may take more courses each term than might be feasible in a traditional, on-campus setting. This may be easier to do if you don’t have a full-time job or other significant commitments that tie you down.

When you’re taking more classes or progressing at an accelerated pace, time management is critical. You’ll need to set aside time for each class and schedule breaks to rest and recharge.

Take Courses During the Summer

Many online programs offer courses over the summer or during other traditional break periods. This can allow you to accumulate credits faster.

Check If Other Credits Apply

volunteers helping during a coastal clean up drive

Some online institutions provide credits for prior learning opportunities. This can help you get a head start on your degree by reducing the number of credits you need to earn.

You will likely need documentation and evidence to prove you have the required experience to earn the credits. It’s important to thoroughly review your institution’s policies and be organized and persistent in your application.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Some colleges offer a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), which evaluates the college-level learning a student has achieved outside the classroom to assign academic credit. Sources of such learning might include:

  • Military service
  • Job training
  • Certifications
  • Independent study
  • Volunteering

You can review your institution’s policies to see what is PLA-eligible.

Take Competency-Based Education (CBE) Programs

student taking a Competency-Based Education (CBE) program

Competency-Based Education (CBE) programs measure progress by mastery of specific skills or knowledge areas, called competencies, rather than time spent in class.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

If you’re already knowledgeable in a subject, you may demonstrate that competency and move on to the next one without waiting for the end of a term.

Utilize Online Resources and Tools

Many online resources can give you tips for online classes to help you learn faster. Platforms like Coursera or edX offer free or low-cost courses. Digital flashcards, study apps, and productivity tools can make studying time more efficient.

Finishing Your Associate’s Degree Fast

student getting her associate degree online

Accelerating your degree should never come at the expense of the quality of your education or your understanding of the material. It’s essential to balance the desire to finish quickly and ensure you’re ready for the next step in your career or education.

Ready to jumpstart your career prospects with an online degree but not sure where to begin? With My College Guide’s decades of extensive experience, we can help you navigate your way to a degree that aligns with your career goals!

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.