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Accelerated bachelor's degrees: The fastest college degrees

Would you like to earn an undergraduate degree but can't spend four years doing it? An accelerated bachelor's degree may be for you.
maura-deering
Written by Maura Deering, Contributor on
A white woman takes notes while looking at a laptop in a dark room.
Shutterstock / Antonio Guillem

What if you want or need to earn a bachelor's degree but don't have the time or money to spend on four years of school? Many online colleges offer accelerated bachelor's degrees featuring prior experience credit transfers, self-paced online learning, and degree completion programs that allow you to finish sooner.

Bachelor's degree programs prepare students for careers or graduate study. Employees in professional, corporate, technology, government, and academic settings have likely earned bachelor's degrees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, higher education translates to lower unemployment rates. 

Explore our list of accelerated bachelor's degree options to find one that's right for you.

Top 5 schools for online bachelor's degrees: Quick facts

College

Degree stats

How much?

The Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 77%
  • Three-year bachelor's pathways
  • More than 80+ bachelor's degrees

Per credit hour: $382 

Application fee: $60

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 54%
  • Competency-based learning
  • Monthly start dates

Per 6-month term: 

$3,625 IT

$3,575 business

Application fee: $65

University of Missouri

Columbia, Missouri

  • Acceptance rate: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Bachelor's degrees from 8+ schools and colleges
  • Asynchronous online learning with no campus visits

Per year: 

$12,396 in-state

$30,734 out-of-state, on-campus

$14,942 out-of-state, online

Application fee: $55

University of West Florida

Pensacola, Florida

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 52%
  • Up to 81-92 transfer credits accepted, depending on program
  • Asynchronous coursework

Per credit hour: 

$219 in-state

$648 out-of-state

Application fee: $30

Thomas Jefferson University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Acceptance rate: 70%
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Accelerated bachelor's completion program
  • On-campus, online, or hybrid

Per credit hour: $605

Application fee: $50

What should I expect in an accelerated bachelor's degree program?

Earning an accelerated bachelor's degree means learning at a faster pace or transferring credits from prior coursework, associate degrees, certificates, or life experiences. Most programs follow the same format as their four-year counterparts but on a faster timeline. 

For example, an accelerated, asynchronous online program includes the same courses, projects, and exams, but you work at a faster pace through the material. A degree completion program skips content you've already learned but covers the remainder in two years.

Students need initiative, dedication, and focus to succeed in rigorous accelerated bachelor's degree programs.  

Follow these links for specific program information:

The best accelerated bachelor's degrees

ZDNet's ranking methodology relies on reputable data sources, reviews by experts, and a rigorous editorial process to identify the schools on our lists. You can trust our content for timeliness and objectivity.

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, College Scorecard, and each school's website. Note that for public colleges, the average annual net price given is for in-state students.

1. The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio

About the school: Ohio State offers three-year bachelor's degree plans on campus in fields like arts and sciences, business, communications, and education. Applicants can qualify for 30 or more credits toward their degrees with examinations, prior coursework, or military training.

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 77%
  • Avg. annual net price: $16,845
  • Fastest time to completion: Three years
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: 590-690 critical reading; 620-740 math
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery method: On-campus

Accreditation: The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. Western Governors University
Salt Lake City Utah 

About the school: WGU's accelerated online programs include accounting, cybersecurity and information assurance, information technology, IT management, and marketing. Programs follow a competency-based, self-paced format, allowing students to graduate in under four years.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 54%
  • Avg. annual net price: $9,969
  • Fastest time to completion: 21 months 
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

3. University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri 

About the school: Mizzou offers accelerated learning online and within its on-campus bachelor's degree programs. On-campus accelerated study is primarily for students who already hold one bachelor's degree and want to earn a second bachelor's. This may affect financial aid, tuition, and honors eligibility.

  • Acceptance rate: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Avg. annual net price: $16,559
  • Fastest time to completion: 15 months
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: 560-660 critical reading; 550-660 math
  • Minimum GPA: Program-specific
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: On-campus; asynchronous

Accreditation: University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

4. University of West Florida
Pensacola, Florida 

UWF online offers accelerated bachelor's degree options that can be completed in 24 months in clinical lab sciences, criminal justice, and nursing. Other programs, like accounting, business, and supply chain management take 24-48 months to complete. 

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 52%
  • Avg. annual net price: $7,089
  • Fastest time to completion: 24 months
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: 540-630 critical reading; 520-600 math
  • Minimum GPA: Varies by program
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous; nursing includes in-person clinicals

Accreditation: University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

5. Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

About the school: Jefferson's accelerated bachelor's degree completion program allows learners with college experience to transfer 30-87 credits at reduced tuition rates and finish their degrees. Majors include business, health, IT, and leadership in emergency services.

  • Acceptance rate: 70%
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Avg. annual net price: $26,569
  • Fastest time to completion: 12 months
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: 550-630 critical reading; 540-640 math
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Online; hybrid; on-campus

Accreditation: Thomas Jefferson University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

6. Indiana University
Indianapolis, Indiana 

About the school: IU offers online bachelor's degree programs that students can finish in one to two years, depending on the number of credits they transfer. Fields of study include applied science, business, computing and technology, health, and labor studies; some programs require an associate degree or specific number of transferable credits. Students in IU's online degree programs take online classes from a combination of the school system's campuses.

  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Graduation rate: 51%
  • Avg. annual net price: $12,416
  • Fastest time to completion: 12 months
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: 500-600 critical reading; 500-590 math
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Indiana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. Saint Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri 

About the school: Jesuit-based SLU's flexible 2+SLU program partners with area community colleges to offer two-year bachelor's completion programs. SLU's accelerated online options include computer information systems, emergency management, general studies, project management, and security and strategic intelligence.

  • Acceptance rate: 56%
  • Graduation rate: 69%
  • Avg. annual net price: $25,039
  • Fastest time to completion: 12 months
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: 580-680 critical reading; 580-690 math
  • Minimum GPA: Not specified
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Saint Louis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. Excelsior College
Albany, New York

About the school: Excelsior offers flexible online learning and maximum credit for prior learning, which add up to shorter times to a degree. Applicable credit includes transfer credit from prior coursework, industry certifications, military training, credit by portfolio, and examination credit. 

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 35%
  • Avg. annual net price: Not publicly available
  • Fastest time to completion: 12 months
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: Not required for admission; some programs require C- or higher for transferable course credits
  • Enrollment periods per year: Six
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Excelsior College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

9. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina 

About the school: ECU Online's undergraduate degree completion program offers two-year bachelor's degrees for community college graduates and students with transferable credit. Majors include business administration, communication, education, industrial technology, and nursing.

  • Acceptance rate: 88%
  • Graduation rate: 67%
  • Avg. annual net price: $16,550
  • Fastest time to completion: 24 months
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: 510-590 critical reading; 510-580 math
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: East Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

10. St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg, Florida 

About the school: In addition to academic transfer-credit mechanisms, the Experiential Learning Program at SPC grants up to 45 credits toward a degree for prior learning acquired through life experiences. Applicants submit portfolios for evaluation that describe experiences like jobs, seminars and workshops, courses, trainings, and projects.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 33%
  • Avg. annual net price: $2,668
  • Fastest time to completion: 2.5 years
  • Average SAT range for admitted students: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: Program-specific
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: On-campus; online (synchronous)

Accreditation: St. Petersburg College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

In conclusion

Accelerated bachelor's degree programs can help you achieve your education goals more quickly but require a focus on powering through. 

If you have the motivation, drive, and circumstances to devote two or three years to studies, an accelerated bachelor's degree could be the right choice.

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