How Fast Can You Get a Degree?


A lot of people are making the choice to finish their degrees. Between 2000 – 2010, there was a 42% increase in college and university students over the age of 25. When you make the choice to go back to college as an adult, or go to college for the first time, one of the first questions you have is how long it’s going to take you to complete your degree. After all, you probably have a job and/or family commitments and tackling school full-time or part-time means giving up some of your free time to achieve your education dreams and you want to know how long you’ll be sacrificing your nights and weekends to make that degree happen!

Many students who go back to school as adults consider earning a degree online. The flexible schedule of online schools can make them very appealing, but there’s a chance that going to school online will cut down on the amount of daily time you spend at school as well. Mostly because you’ve eliminated any commute time required for attending class in person, and because you can work on your classes in your spare time rather than having to work your schedule around in-person classes. So making the choice between an online degree and a traditional in-person school experience might affect the number of classes you can take each term, which affects how quickly you graduate.

You probably have already considered that the type of degree you hope to earn will affect how long you’re in school. If you’re interested in pursuing an associate’s degree, which is generally considered a two-year degree, you’re going to spend a lot less time in school than someone seeking a bachelor’s degree which is almost always a four-year degree. When you do weigh the choice between a two-year or four-year you have to consider not only how much time and tuition you will spend, but how much earnings power you’ll gain from your new degree. This can vary greatly by discipline and your intended career field.

Beyond the considerations of which degree to seek, you may want to talk to an admissions counselor for any program you consider and ask just how many credits you’re allowed to take each term and what credit load makes the difference between being a full and part-time student. Most colleges and universities have a maximum number of credits they will allow a student to pursue per semester or quarter, though some make allowances if a student receives special permission to take more classes. Another question to ask an admissions counselor is the average time a student spends in pursuit of a degree for the program you’re interested in. Sometimes if you hear how long most people spend seeking a degree you can better estimate how long you will need.

Another place you can increase or decrease your time in school is by continuing to take classes during the summer term rather than taking it off as many traditional college students do. As an adult you’re probably not going to have a summer vacation from your job anyway, so why not continue your education during that time to speed up earning your degree?

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of how much time you’ll need to pursue your degree, whether you go back to college online or choose to go to school on campus in a more traditional style.