How Long Are Most Online University Programs?

How long an online university program is depends on the type of degree or certificate awarded. Read on to learn how to determine the length of an online degree program.

The Length of Most Online University Degree Programs

Online degree programs that admit students on a cohort basis have a set length because the cohorts progress through their university coursework together. Other online degree programs may be self-paced; they'll last as long as it takes you to finish the work.

A legitimate online university degree program usually takes as long as it would take to earn the same degree on campus. If the program is self-paced, you can take more credits than the typical full-time load and finish in less time. Self-paced programs also allow you to take fewer courses over a longer time, which may appeal to those with full-time jobs.

Important Facts About Online University Programs

Certificates Associate's Degree Program Bachelor's Degree Program Master's Degree Program Doctorate Program
Prerequisites Vary by program High school diploma, official transcripts from high school and all post-secondary institutions attended High school diploma, official transcripts from high school and all post-secondary institutions attended A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 is usually required A master's degree from an accredited institution, letters of recommendation, personal or doctoral essays are often requested
Degrees N/A Associate of Art (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.) Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) Master of Arts (M.A.) Master of Science (M.S.) Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Education (M.Ed.) Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Programs Accounting, Health Sciences, General Business, Health Management and more Accounting, Business, Education, Criminal Justice, Psychology and more Business Administration, Communications, Psychology, Engineering, Education, Business and more Accounting, Health Administration, Information Systems, Computer Science, Marketing, Education and more Business Administration, Health Administration, Education, Nursing Practice, Philosophy, Marriage & Family Counseling and more
Online Availability Hybrid programs are available Hybrid programs are available Hybrid programs are available Hybrid programs are available Hybrid programs are available

Certificate Program

Online certificate programs may range from a brush-up course on a particular subject to in-depth preparation for a licensing examination. These programs may last one year or take less than a week.

Associate's Degree Program

Assuming you have a high school diploma or equivalent with no college credits, an associate's degree program at a typical online university takes two years to complete if you participate as a full-time student. The curriculum will likely include about 20 courses (roughly 60 credit hours).

Bachelor's Degree Program

The typical bachelor's degree program takes four years to complete, and an online university's program should be approximately the same. Credit hours required usually total near 120.

Master's Degree Program

Entering with a bachelor's degree, a master's degree candidate should spend about two years earning this graduate degree. A Registered Nurse to Master of Science in Nursing (RN-MSN) program allows a Registered Nurse without a bachelor's degree to earn the Master of Science in Nursing in three years. Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs are also usually 2-3 years long. MBA programs that are about half as long are available to experienced executives.

Doctorate Program

Universities typically offer online doctoral degree programs in physical or occupational therapy (1-3 years long) or professional education (3-4 years long). A standard research-based Ph.D. program (4-7 years long) may have a significant on-campus residency requirement.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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