Going Back to School

How Long Will it Take to Earn My College Degree?

Earning my college degree - how long will it take?Two years. Four years. Six years. Seventeen years.

Ask how long it takes to earn a college degree and you’ll get as many different answers as people.

That’s because how long it takes depends on a whole bunch of things; like timing, course offerings, work schedules, full- or part-time attendance—even you and your study habits.

According to the Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics, however, the average is about six years for first-time, full-time students and four and one-half years for adult learners.

Gender, race, type of institution (public vs. private) all have an affect on how long it takes to earn your college degree.

The biggest roadblock for adult learners, however, says the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning is “lack of sufficient course offerings with their program of study that fits their schedule.”

The remedy?

Online learning, accelerated degree programs and easy transfer of existing college credits.

Here, we take a look at each:

Online learning

Same quality, same degree, at your convenience. These are some of the many reasons to love distance learning. Though not for everyone, online learning can help you conveniently finish your degree faster. Choose online learning if you need a flexible schedule and are pretty good at managing your time. Steer clear if you need the rigors and discipline of a regular classroom. 

The alternative: Online learning doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” proposition. Some coursework may lend itself better to your being in the classroom, so feel free to pursue combination or hybrid learning. That simply means you take some classes on campus and others online, as you wish.

Accelerated degree programs

Earn your degree faster or earn two degrees at once with an accelerated program. Accelerated degree programs let you earn your degree without interrupting your busy life. Hint: Many online degree programs offer accelerated courses so you get the benefits of both online learning and accelerated classes.

The alternative: Even if your chosen degree program isn’t an accelerated one, find out of you have other accelerated class options, such as three-, six-, 12- or 15-week courses.

Transfer credits

Claim credit for work you’ve already completed. If you’ve taken courses at an accredited institution, many colleges and universities will accept those credits, as long they meet institutional, GPA or course requirements. Most have a maximum on the number of transfer credit hours allowed, so be sure to ask an academic advisor about the particulars. 

The alternative: If you lack transferable credits from previous college attendance, see if your college or university offers transfer equivalencies for real-world work or military experience.

Want to talk to someone about your own personal situation? We’re happy to chat any time. Get in touch with us here or leave us a comment below.

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