What is a Nontraditional Degree Program?

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When you begin looking at college programs, you might find yourself wondering, “What is a nontraditional degree program?” A nontraditional degree program is one that caters to certain groups of students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, these students include those of an older age, those who have commitments outside of school and those who have more real life experience. Colleges often offer programs that share some similar features designed to help these students.

Credit for Life Experiences

One way in which a non-traditional degree program differs from a traditional degree program is that many offer students class credit for their life experiences. Whether you served in the military, spent years working from home or worked in different career fields, you can submit your resume and ask the college for credit. Many colleges require that you take certain exams that test your knowledge of those fields and areas of experience. The higher you score, the more credits you get. Getting credit for the experience that you already have reduces the time that you spend in school and lets you earn a degree faster.

Flexible Schedules

Some people consider a nontraditional degree program because they lead busy lives and have a number of commitments in their schedules. As a student in one of these programs, you can take advantage of a flexible schedule that works around your commitments. Many of these programs offer both evening classes as well as weekend classes. Instead of attending a class that lasts for an hour three times a week, you can sign up for a class that lasts for two to three hours one night in the middle of the week. Weekend classes often run for several hours or longer and usually meet on Saturdays.

Hybrid Learning Opportunities

As a nontraditional student, you can also take advantage of hybrid learning opportunities. A hybrid program is one that includes a combination of different class types. While you can take weekend and night classes, you can also take traditional classes that meet a few times a week and sign up for online classes too. Some schools also offer accelerated or advanced programs for adult and professional students. These courses may run for just five to eight weeks instead of the full 16 weeks of the semester, which lets you get through your required classes even faster.

Major Options

One thing to consider when looking at a non traditional degree program is the majors that are available. Some of these programs are best for those who already have a bachelor’s degree and let you earn an MBA or another advanced degree in less time. If you need a bachelor’s program, you might look at interdisciplinary programs. Designed for those who do not want to study one specific topic or subject, these programs give you the option of taking classes from two or more departments. There are a small number of colleges that allow nontraditional students to design their own majors too.

Non-traditional students are those who do not fit the mold of the typical college freshmen, including students who are over the age of 24 and those who have work experience. Some students want an answer to the question of “What is a nontraditional degree program?” because they want to know if these programs are best for them.

Additional resource: 50 Best Colleges for Adult Education 2017-2018