It is hard to believe, but the National Center for Education Statistics reports that an average student spends about 52 months on their bachelor’s degree. But what if we told you there was a faster way to gain all that knowledge and earn your degree? Enter Accelerated Programs.

If you don’t have the luxury of investing the time required to complete a traditional bachelor’s or master’s degree program, then an accelerated program might just be the solution for you. 

Also known as fast-track programs, accelerated programs allow you to earn your degree in a considerably shorter period of time, so that you can enter the workforce as soon as possible. This comprehensive guide is designed to help you learn all there is to know about accelerated programs, their advantages and disadvantages and the popular choices of accelerated programs among students.

So let’s dive right in and begin with the basics. 

Studying in an accelerated program

Accelerated programs or fast-track programs, are educational programs designed to expedite the process of earning a higher education degree. Typically, these programs are offered at the college or university level and offer an intensive and condensed curriculum, so that students like you can earn their degree in a shorter time frame than in traditional programs.

If you enroll for an accelerated program, you can expect a heavier course load each semester, including summer sessions, and you would be required to complete the coursework more quickly. This could involve taking extra classes, attending classes during shorter sessions, or even combining online and in-person instruction.

The main goal of an accelerated program is to offer academically capable and motivated students an opportunity to finish their degree sooner and enter the workforce or pursue further education at an advanced level. These programs can be found in various fields of study, including business, engineering, computer science, healthcare, psychology and more.

Related: What is an Accelerated Study Program in Business Administration?

Accelerated programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The different types of accelerated programs available in each category include:

Undergraduate Accelerated Programs:

Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Programs: These programs compress a four-year bachelor’s degree into a shorter timeframe, which is typically three years. This means as a student, you would be exposed to a heavier course load each semester, including summer sessions, or utilizing advanced placement credits.

Dual Enrollment Programs: This type of accelerated program lets high school students simultaneously earn college credits while completing their high school education. As a high school student, you could take college-level courses and receive credit toward your high school diploma and future college degree. This could allow you to complete your undergraduate degree more quickly.

Graduate Accelerated Programs:

Accelerated Master’s Degree Programs: At the graduate level, these accelerated programs allow you to earn a master’s degree in a shorter time, often in as little as one year. They are designed primarily for high-achieving students who have completed their undergraduate degree and wish to expedite their education.

Combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Programs: Often called the “4+1” programs, a combined program option lets you earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree within a compressed time frame. You could apply graduate-level coursework toward both degrees, saving time and even reducing tuition costs in certain cases.

Executive Programs: Executive programs are designed for working professionals who want to continue their career and pursue an advanced degree on the side. These accelerated programs offer flexible scheduling options, intensive coursework, and a condensed curriculum to accommodate the busy schedules of professionals.

Considering the various options available for accelerated programs, it’s best to research and consult with academic advisors or program coordinators to enroll in an accelerated program that matches your schedule and interests.

Let’s move on to take a quick look at the pros and cons of accelerated programs.

Faster Degree Completion: Allows you to earn your degree in a shorter time, so that you enter the workforce or pursue further education sooner.Intensive Workload: Often require a heavier course load and may be more academically demanding, requiring strong time management and dedication.
Cost Saving: Completing your degree sooner can potentially save you tuition fees, as you spend less time in school.Limited Flexibility: Typically have a set curriculum and course schedule, leaving less room for customization or flexibility in course selection.
Fast Career Advancement: Graduating earlier can give you a head start in the job market and allow you to start your career sooner, leading to quicker promotions or salary increases.Reduced Breaks or Summers: Could have shorter breaks or require attending classes during summer sessions, reducing time for relaxation or other activities.
Advanced Education: Offers the opportunity to advance your education more quickly, gaining specialized knowledge and skills in your field.Limited Extracurricular Activities: With a heavier workload, you may have less time to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, or social events.
Intellectual Challenge: Provides an intellectually stimulating environment due to the condensed nature of the program, pushing you to learn and grow rapidly.Limited Internship Opportunities: You may have fewer opportunities to undertake internships or co-op experiences due to a shortened timeline.
Networking Opportunities: Often attract motivated and high-achieving students, providing a chance to network and collaborate with like-minded peers.Reduced Focus on Exploration: The fast-paced nature may leave less time for exploring different subjects or taking elective courses outside your major.

While these pros and cons are general considerations, there might be specific advantages and disadvantages that vary based on the institution, program structure, and individual preferences and circumstances.

The primary difference between a regular degree and an accelerated degree lies in the time it takes to complete the program. Let’s dig deeper to understand this aspect: 

Regular Degree:

Duration: Generally, a regular degree program follows the standard timeframe established by the institution, which is mostly four years for an undergraduate bachelor’s degree. In certain cases, graduate degrees may vary in length, but typically take one to three years or more to complete, depending on the program.

Course Load: As a student of a regular degree program, you typically follow a standard course load each semester, balancing your academic workload with other commitments.

Summer Break: A regular degree program generally includes a longer summer break, lasting around three months. You may use this time to relax, work, pursue internships, or engage in other activities outside of your studies.

Accelerated Degree:

Duration: Accelerated degree programs are designed to be completed in a shorter time, as compared to regular programs. The duration can vary depending on the specific program and institution. For example, an accelerated bachelor’s degree program may take three years instead of four, while an accelerated master’s program could be completed in one year or less.

Course Load: The overall course load of accelerated degree programs is generally heavier than traditional degree programs. This also means enrolling in more classes, taking additional credits, and attending classes during shorter sessions, such as summer or winter sessions.

Continuous Study: Accelerated programs require deep commitment as they may involve continuous study throughout the year, with fewer breaks between semesters.

Before you select an accelerated program, consider multiple factors to make sure it aligns with your goals and suits your circumstances. Some key aspects to factor in are:

  1. Time Commitment: Accelerated programs require a significant time commitment due to the condensed nature of the coursework. Consider whether you are willing and able to handle the increased workload and faster pace of the program.
  1. Academic Preparedness: These programs often have demanding academic requirements. Assess your academic strengths, weaknesses, and learning style to learn if you have the necessary skills to succeed in an accelerated program.
  2. Program Structure: Before you enroll, evaluate the structure and curriculum of the accelerated program. Understand the program’s content, focus and the course offerings, and check if they align with your academic and career goals. You could also consider learning about the reputation of the program and assess whether it provides the depth of knowledge and skills you seek.
  3. Support and Resources: It’s a good idea to explore the support services available to students in accelerated programs. Check if the program provides access to academic advising, tutoring, career counseling, and other resources that can help you navigate the program successfully.
  4. Career Implications: These programs are designed to help you earn a degree that helps you advance your career. So consider how an accelerated degree may impact your career prospects. Research whether employers value accelerated degrees and assess if the program’s reputation and alumni network offer opportunities for internships, job placements, or further education.
  1. Financial Considerations: This is an important one. While completing your degree faster can save on tuition fees, accelerated programs may require higher course loads or additional fees. Assess the financial feasibility and consider any potential impact on financial aid or scholarships.
  2. Personal Responsibilities: When you sign up for an accelerated program, don’t neglect your personal responsibilities and commitments outside of academics, such as work, family, or extracurricular activities. Ensure that you have the necessary support to manage your time and balance these responsibilities alongside the demands of an accelerated program.
  3. Work-Life Balance: Reflect on your preferred work-life balance. Factor in whether the accelerated pace of the program aligns with your desired lifestyle and if it lets you maintain overall well-being and mental health.

Along with the factors mentioned above, we also recommend consulting with academic advisors, current students, and professionals in your field to gather insights and make an informed decision that suits your unique circumstances.

Accelerated programs are offered in various fields of study, including business, psychology, and healthcare. These subjects are popular choices for accelerated programs due to their practical and in-demand nature. Let’s detail some accelerated programs in these fields:


  1. Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): These accelerated programs focus on intensive business education, covering business areas such as management, marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship. An accelerated BBA program often condenses the curriculum to complete the degree in a shorter time frame, so that students like you can enter the workforce or pursue advanced degrees sooner.
  2. Accelerated Master of Business Administration (MBA): An accelerated MBA program caters to students who have completed their undergraduate degree and want to advance their business knowledge and skills at an accelerated pace. Generally, these programs consist of a compressed course schedule, allowing you to earn your MBA in a shorter time compared to traditional programs.


  1. Accelerated Bachelor of Psychology: Accelerated programs in psychology offer students a  comprehensive understanding of human behavior, mental processes, and research methods. These programs might offer an accelerated curriculum that allows students to complete their bachelor’s degree in psychology in a shorter time frame, mostly through a combination of advanced coursework and summer sessions.
    Many young individuals are opting for accelerated programs in psychology as they see a steady growth in the industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 12% growth for community and social service occupations between the years 2020 and 2030.
  1. Accelerated Master’s in Psychology: An accelerated master’s program in psychology is designed for students who have earned their undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field. These accelerated programs offer specialized coursework and practical training opportunities that can prepare you for careers in counseling, research, or other areas of psychology.


  1. Accelerated Nursing Programs: Accelerated nursing programs are designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and want to pursue a career in nursing. These programs condense the coursework and clinical experiences required to become a registered nurse (RN) into a shorter time frame, typically around 12 to 18 months. What’s more, these courses also allow you to use the credits you earned during your current degree toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
  2. Accelerated Health Administration Programs: Accelerated programs in health administration or healthcare management provide a fast-track path for students interested in leadership roles within the healthcare industry. These programs combine business and healthcare coursework to help students develop skills in healthcare policy, finance, operations, and strategic management.

Accelerated programs are a wonderful medium to ensure you earn your degree while balancing your personal and professional commitments. Available in popular subjects such as Business, Psychology, and Healthcare, these programs can help you complete your degrees in a shorter time, allowing you to kickstart your career and gain a competitive advantage over your peers. When considering signing up for an accelerated program, remember to factor in aspects such as time commitment, personal responsibilities, program structure, career implications, financial considerations, work-life balance, and your personal motivation.

If you’re considering completing your degree, check out the available accelerated programs and register today. 

Is an accelerated program the right choice for me?

Well, that depends on several factors. If you’re wondering whether an accelerated program is the right choice for you, you must consider your personal motivation and drive to enroll for a program with an intensive course load, your academic ability to complete one, your time constraints, learning style, and your long-term career goals.
While accelerated programs offer the advantage of completing your education sooner, they also have some drawbacks. The condensed schedule and increased workload can be challenging and potentially impact your overall learning experience. But the opportunity to get your degree quickly can help you quickly advance your career. So, weigh the pros and cons, and consider your personal circumstances before making a decision.

Do Accelerated Programs Have Value?

Absolutely! If you’re considering an accelerated program, rest assured that potential employers recognize its value. Accelerated programs help you learn and build valuable skills that are similar to what you would gain from a traditional degree program – just in a shorter time period. However, the worth of an accelerated program may vary depending on individual circumstances and goals. Some key factors that contribute to the value of accelerated programs include the time it saves to get a degree, the cost effectiveness of the program, the access to advanced knowledge, the intellectual growth involved and the personal development opportunities that these programs offer.