Online bachelor’s degree programs offer convenience that traditional programs do not. If you are ready to expand your knowledge base, it is time to compare distance education programs and traditional on-site programs to determine which one makes the most sense for your lifestyle. As you are making future career plans, you need to anticipate how long it will take you to earn your degree. Here are some of the factors that can affect how long your distance education program will last:
Do You Have Prior College Credits or an Associate’s Degree?
How long it takes to earn a 4-year degree depends where you are starting. If you are starting from scratch, you can go by the school’s generic estimates. If you already have some college under your belt, you can cross the credits you have completed off of your list of requirements. This could help relieve your load each semester or even reduce the number of semesters you must spend to earn your online bachelor’s degree.
Choosing an Enrollment Status
Many distance education programs have flexible enrollment options. When you are comparing each school you should see if there are different enrollment status options and how each class is defined. In most cases you can choose from the following enrollment status classifications as defined by the Department of Education:
- Full-time: 12 semester units per term
- Three-quarter time: 9-11 credit hours per semester
- Half time: 6-8 credit hours per semester
- Less than half time: 1-5 credit hours per semester
Degree Program Duration Based on Enrollment Status
Most schools will grant students their bachelor’s degree to full-time students who pass all of their classes after 4 years of study. If you study three-quarter time, you can expect to earn your degree after 5 years. Half time students typically take a full 6 years to earn their degree because of the light course load. Most online schools will not accept a student that studies less than half time, but there could be exceptions if you are close to graduation.
How to Earn Your Degree Faster
Not all distance learning programs are the same. Some have very unique schedules or an accelerated instruction structure that can help you complete the required curriculum with less of a time commitment. If you are the type of person who is not overwhelmed by a fast-paced program, you could graduate faster by choosing an accelerated online distance education program. This is possible by shortening the length of sessions to 5, 8 or 10 weeks instead of the traditional 16-week session.
Factors That Can Extend the Duration of Your Program
You could have every intention of studying full-time and earning your degree in 4 years but sometimes things do not go as planned. If you fail a course or you take the wrong class, you could be stuck in school another semester. It is something you want to avoid but it is also a reality that you need to factor into your plan. Some students also have trouble enrolling in the required courses near the end of their career because they are high in demand. Be sure to enroll in classes early every semester to avoid this.
Online degree programs are now widely accepted. Be sure that you only enroll in accredited distance education programs. This ensures you can find financial aide and that your degree will be recognized. Once you have a list of accredited programs, compare program formats and enrollment options so that you can earn your online bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible.
See also: Top 10 Cheap Online Bachelor’s Degrees