Fastest Online Bachelor's Degrees

There are dozens of schools across the U.S. that offer accelerated online bachelor's degree programs, enabling students to finish their degree significantly sooner. Explore top schools as well as what kinds of accelerated programs are available.

Top 25 Schools with Fast Online Bachelor's Degree Programs

When choosing the best school for an expedited online bachelor's degree program, you should consider factors such as cost, faculty and accreditation along with the length of the program. Twenty-five of the best schools that offer accelerated online bachelor's degree programs are listed below.

1. Siena Heights University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Adrian, MI $27,124 100%

Siena Heights University offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Care Management completely online and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The program is open to students with at least two years of qualifying related experience or approval from the program coordinator. Students can complete the required 39 credit hours for the major in 2 years or fewer through 8-week terms. The online learning platform utilizes regular class discussions, applicable assignments and experienced health care management faculty. The program has a per-credit tuition rate of $530 for all online students, regardless of their state of residence.

2. Arizona State University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Tempe, AZ $10,822 96%

Arizona State University allows in-state students of accelerated programs to save thousands by capping the cost of their tuition when they hit 10 credit hours. Tuition varies by program, but an in-state resident of the online accelerated business program would pay $5,355 for a semester if taking more than 10 credit hours ($530 per credit). The school, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, offers more than 50 online and hybrid accelerated programs. Available programs include those in economics, computer information systems, history, psychology and organizational leadership. Many of the programs can be completed in 2.5 to 3 years.

3. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
University Park, PA $13,988 72%

Pennsylvania State University has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education since 1921. Penn State World Campus offers dozens of online and hybrid options for students including an accelerated RN to BSN program. This program is for registered nurses in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and consists of 120 credit hours. Many credits can be waived for work experience, leaving students with 87 credits to complete (minus any transfer credits). Full-time students have a flat-rate fee of $6,994 or $7,549 per semester, which includes applicable technology fees.

4. Florida International University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Miami, FL $6,546 89%

The accelerated programs at Florida International University enable students to complete both a bachelor's degree and master's degree in around 5 years, typically finishing the undergraduate portion in around 3 years. Accelerated programs are available in six areas of study: chemistry, environmental studies, geosciences, statistics, mathematical studies and recreational therapy. These programs allow students to apply many courses taken for their undergraduate degree to the requirements of their graduate degree, saving around 20 credit hours of coursework. In-state students have a tuition rate of $229 and out-of-state students have a tuition rate of $346 (undergraduate courses, based on 15 hours per semester). The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACSCOC.

5. University of Arizona

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Tucson, AZ $12,467 92%

The University of Arizona offers several Accelerated Master's Programs, which allow students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree in five years of full-time study. Accelerated programs are available in dozens of focus areas including computer science, management, applied science and psychology. The cost of tuition varies by program and degree level, but can be around $500 per credit hour for undergraduate students. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has additional accreditation for many of its programs.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK $27,728 90%
7 East Carolina University Greenville, NC $7,188 81%
8 Shorter University Rome, GA $22,370 100%
9 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO $7,376 91%
10 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX $19,582 98%
11 Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA $8,072 90%
12 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR $11,166 86%
13 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS $10,383 89%
14 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS $5,130 98%
15 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS $8,624 94%
16 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO $28,470 100%
17 Mid-South Christian College Memphis, TN $7,902 100%
18 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND $8,695 90%
19 University of Florida Gainesville, FL $6,381 93%
20 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL $6,368 90%
21 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI $18,414 97%
22 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN $9,090 93%
23 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA $10,560 93%
24 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA $9,267 92%
25 University of Wisconsin-Stout Menomonie, WI $9,457 84%

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions. All table data is provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Overview of Fast Online Bachelor's Degree Programs

There are numerous types of fast, or accelerated, online bachelor's degree programs offered by many schools throughout the United States. Some of the more common online bachelor's degree programs with fast/accelerated options are discussed below.

Accelerated RN to BSN Programs

These programs are among the most commonly offered online fast-track programs and are open to registered nurses who have completed an accredited nursing diploma or associate's degree program. The total program length depends on student prerequisites and degree. Most programs require a total of 120 credit hours, of which students may have 20 to 40 credits awarded for qualifying RN work experience. These programs are often offered in 8-week terms, enabling students to progress through the required coursework more quickly. Students graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and have a deeper understanding of nursing practices and healthcare management theories.

Credit for Life Experience Programs

Some schools award academic credits to students for qualifying life experiences. This type of fast-track program can be offered at numerous schools and apply to different programs. An example of a life-experience accelerated program is a bachelor's degree in healthcare management offered at school #1 on the list: students who have at least 2 years of qualifying experience can complete that program in 2 years. Other types of life experience that may earn credits include public or volunteer work, knowledge assessments and independent study. Earning credit for life experience can save a significant amount of time and money.

Accelerated Dual-Degree Programs

Accelerated online dual-degree programs allow students to earn both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in about 5 years. Students are able to dedicate a portion of the required undergraduate coursework to graduate courses that will then also apply toward their master's degree. Students are also usually required to choose two degrees that are related to each other, such as business and management. These programs allow students to decrease their overall bachelor's degree completion time and obtain a master's degree with fewer additional courses.

Program Length

The length of an online accelerated bachelor's degree program varies by school, student and the number of classes taken each semester. The length of some programs is shown below, with the assumption that students are studying full-time.

Program Special Circumstances Prior Education Program Length (example)
RN to BSN Credits received for RN experience Diploma 3 years or less
RN to BSN Credits received for RN experience Associate's degree 2 years or less
Bachelor's Degree Credits received for life experience/assessments High school 3 years or less
Bachelor's Degree Credits received for life experience/assessments Associate's degree 2 years or less
Accelerated Dual Degree Earn both bachelor's and master's degree High school 5 years
Accelerated Dual Degree Earn both bachelor's and master's degree Associate's Degree 3 years

How to Choose a Fast Online Bachelor's Degree Program

In addition to program length, there are a few factors that you should consider when selecting a school for your online bachelor's degree program. Important considerations for your school choice are discussed below.

Programs Offered

The most important consideration in looking at schools is what programs they offer. Not all programs are offered online and even fewer are offered as online accelerated options. For example, you may be considering a school that seems to offer your program online, but perhaps they offer the standard option online and the accelerated option on campus. Carefully review the program information provided by your schools and discuss any concerns with admissions representatives.

Accreditation

Accreditation is extremely important because it shows you that a school or program has met quality standards set by a third party. Schools and programs are separately accredited, but not all programs need accreditation. If you're considering financial aid, keep in mind that you must attend an accredited school to qualify for federal aid. Depending on your area of study and career objectives, you may also need to ensure your program is also accredited.

Credits for Experience

Although uncommon, some schools offer academic credit for work and life experiences, as discussed above. If you're considering one of these programs, talk with the admissions counselors at your school choices to see how many credits you can receive. As you consider your program length, remember that a standard full-time student completes 30 credit hours per year; if a school offers to award you with 30 credit hours for life experience, that's one less year until graduation.

Transfer Credits

If you have any prior coursework, you'll likely be able to transfer some credits into a bachelor's degree program. Many schools award incoming students that have associate's degrees around 60 credit hours, cutting the total bachelor's degree program length in half. If you haven't completed a degree, you can typically still transfer in applicable credits. Transfer credit policies vary drastically by school. You should consult with admissions counselors to find out what amount of transfer credits you'll be able to receive.

Assessment Credits

Assessment test credit waivers are also uncommon, but they allow students to have some credit hours and courses waived by passing knowledge assessments. The number of credits that students can have waived and what programs these assessments are available with can depend on the school. Students may take tests or compile portfolios to show what they've learned and how it applies to their program.

Costs

Online accelerated bachelor's degree program costs can vary based on quite a few factors. Every school sets its rates and might charge one flat fee per credit or separate per-credit costs into tuition and other fees. The tuition rate might apply to all students, or there may be an in-state and out-of-state rate (out-of-state is generally higher). When choosing a program, ask about all costs associated with the programs.

Flat-Rate Costs

Flat-rate costs may be flat-rate tuition, which applies to students taking a specific amount of credit hours, or flat-rate (total) costs.

  • Tuition: Flat-rate tuition is when schools set a cap on the cost of tuition. For example, if a school sets a 10-credit cap on tuition that normally costs $500 per credit, students can take 12, 15, 18 or more credit hours and still have a tuition cost of $5,000 for the semester.
  • Total: Some schools wrap all costs, including tuition and various fees, into a flat-rate fee. This might be charged per semester or credit hour. If flat-rate fees are charged by semester, the result is the same as the flat-rate tuition; students can take a higher number of credit hours for the same cost, which also means there are fewer credit hours to complete later (shortening the program).

Why is Accreditation Important for Fast Online Bachelor's Degree Programs?

Two types of accreditation may be important to students, depending on their chosen program: institutional and programmatic.

Institutional

Institutional accreditation applies to an entire school and shows that the school has met certain quality criteria set by the accrediting agency. Schools can be accredited by a regional accrediting body or a national accrediting body. Students must be enrolled at an accredited school (national or regional) to qualify for federal financial aid. The key differences between national and regional accreditation are highlighted below.

National Accreditation Regional Accreditation
Transfer Credits Credits earned at a nationally accredited school typically only transfer to other nationally accredited schools Credits earned at regionally accredited schools are usually able to transfer to regionally or nationally accredited schools
Quality Review National accreditation compares schools across the U.S. Regional accreditation is typically more prestigious/higher quality because it compares schools in specific geographic areas
Cost Typically less expensive May be more expensive
Types of schools Many nationally accredited schools are for-profit schools Most regionally accredited schools are non-profit or public schools

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation is awarded in the same way as institutional accreditation but it applies to specific programs. Many programs do not need, or have, programmatic accreditation, but certain programs do. Depending on your career objectives you may need to graduate from an accredited program. This usually applies to careers that require licensure, certification and other professional qualifications such as those in education and nursing.

Accelerated vs Standard Online Bachelor's Degree Programs

The key difference between standard online bachelor's degree programs and their accelerated counterparts is program length. Students without any prior college coursework typically spend four years earning a bachelor's degree but those in accelerated programs usually finish in three years or less.

Accelerated programs may have more specific admissions requirements. For example, they may require incoming students to have some relevant work experience or require them to pass some knowledge assessments while standard programs don't usually require any criteria beyond high school.

Standard programs may be completed through 16-week courses or shorter terms while many accelerated programs are completed through 8-week (or similar length) terms. The shorter terms give students more flexibility and enable them to finish their programs a little sooner than they would with 16-week terms.

Lastly, accelerated programs may involve taking more courses each semester (or term). In a standard bachelor's degree program, students take around 30 credit hours each academic year; this might involve 15 credits during the fall and spring semester, or 12 credits for each of those and 6 credits over the summer. An accelerated program may involve students taking 18 credit hours each 16-week semester; depending on the length of the classes, students may take a total of 45 to 54 credits over an academic year. The more credits a student earns per year, the less time they'll take to complete their degree.

What Can You Do with an Accelerated Online Bachelor's Degree?

There are limitless opportunities for graduates of accelerated online bachelor's degree programs. The careers that graduates can qualify for will depend on the area that they've studied. Graduates of online programs are prepared to work in the same positions as their on-campus graduating peers. Graduates may apply their earned bachelor's degree to their current position or field to gain more responsibility and advance their position. Alternatively, graduates may choose to pursue an entirely different line of work that matches their field of study. Some careers that accelerated online bachelor's degree students can qualify for are listed below.

Job Title Typical Education Needed Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Human Resources Specialists Bachelor's degree $60,880 5%
Medical and Health Services Managers Bachelor's degree $99,730 18%
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers Bachelor's degree $132,620 8%
Agricultural and Food Scientists Bachelor's degree $64,020 7%
Administrative Services Managers Bachelor's degree $96,180 7%
Operations Research Analysts Bachelor's degree $83,390 26%

All table data is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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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