A bachelor’s degree is often considered the basic starting degree for a range of careers. Traditionally, people spend four to six years earning their bachelor’s degree. Accelerated programs can speed up this timetable, while students who take minimal credits each semester or who change their major partway through their education may spend longer on their degree.
While there may not be many shortcuts to earning a bachelor’s degree, motivated students can find ways to speed up the process. Taking an extra class (for additional credits) each semester, for example, may be able to shorten your study time by a semester or two.
Yet the question remains about whether or not the investment of time and money is worthwhile. Does it make sense in the current economy to pursue a bachelor’s degree, even if it can take six years or more to complete? Is the financial investment a worthwhile one to make? If it is, then you may wonder what you can do to shorten the amount of time it takes to complete your degree.
Here is a closer look at what a bachelor’s degree entails, why this degree is beneficial, how long it typically takes to complete, and the steps you can take to get through the process faster. With these tips, you can embrace a bachelor’s degree for your education and find ways to earn your degree as quickly as possible.
What Types of Bachelor’s Degrees Are There?
There are many different types of bachelor’s degrees to consider, but all take approximately the same amount of time to complete. Two of the most common bachelor’s degrees are:
Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA)
A Bachelor of Arts, or BA, is the most common undergraduate degree. This covers the humanities and social services programs as well as liberal arts fields.
Bachelor of Science Degree (BS)
A Bachelor of Science, or BS, is an undergraduate degree that covers STEM topics, including science, math, and technology.
Are Bachelor’s Degrees Worth It?
Attending college is an investment in your personal and professional growth and it can be a fundamental step toward a better future. Earning your bachelor’s degree provides a higher income potential, a better chance for overall financial stability, a more satisfying career experience, and more. Bottom line? There are a number of financial and non-financial benefits associated with earning a bachelor’s degree.
Financial Benefits of a Bachelor’s Degree
In 2020, Ipsos and Navient published a study entitled Money Under 35. It explored the financial well-being of American young adults between the ages of 22 and 35. According to the study, those who completed their bachelor’s degree had better income and job options. The study reported that 80% of degree holders had full-time jobs, which was more than those who started but did not finish college. Of that group, only 50% had full-time jobs.
Interestingly, the study also found that degree holders are more likely to be homeowners. They are also more likely to save money on a monthly basis. These facts combine to illustrate that bachelor’s degree holders are typically more financially stable than their counterparts.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also finds that bachelor’s degree holders make significantly more money than those with an associate degree or no degree at all. According to 2017 data, the median weekly earnings for someone with a bachelor’s degree s $1,173. Those with only an associate degree earned significantly less at $836 per week. Based on these facts and figures, earning a bachelor’s degree can have a good financial impact on your future.
Non-Financial Benefits of a Bachelor’s Degree
There are non-monetary benefits to earning a bachelor’s degree, as well. For example, college grads experience more job satisfaction than those who have just a two-year degree or no degree at all. According to Ed Smart, 86% of bachelor’s degree holders have a career or career-track job, and 53% report being “very satisfied” with their jobs. In addition, 46% indicated they felt their education was very useful in preparing them for their job or career.
Interestingly, college graduates who carry a bachelor’s degree or higher tend to have better health, tend to exercise more, and have less likelihood to smoke. People with a college education also volunteer in their communities more often and tend to vote more than those who do not have a degree. Overall, college graduates are happier than those who don’t graduate from college, though the research has not yet determined exactly why this is.
How Many Years Does It Take to Complete a Bachelor’s Degree?
It depends … the reason it is difficult to say how long is a bachelor’s degree is that many students take unique paths to earn their degrees. The National Center for Education Statistics indicates it takes an average of 52 months to complete a bachelor’s degree program from first enrollment to degree completion. This is about one semester longer than four years. The range is typically between four and six years. Each program and each student’s education path will look a little different, so these are sample averages.
How to Earn Your Degree Faster
Thankfully, if you are a motivated student, you can earn your degree more quickly. While taking extra credits each semester can help, there are other ways to earn a degree more quickly and start your professional career and life without driving yourself crazy with heavy workloads. Here are some practical ways that today’s students can speed up the process.
Earn Credits in High School
If you are still in high school, you can take advantage of dual enrollment options to speed up your degree completion. Community colleges often offer college-level courses that can double as high school credit. If you plan out your course load properly you could graduate with one- or two-years of bachelor’s degree credit, usually in the form of your core subjects, when you graduate high school.
If your local community college doesn’t offer these programs or they don’t fit your degree goals, look at larger colleges and universities that offer online education options. This can allow you to start earning college credit at home even while you’re still in high school.
If you want to earn college credit while still in high school, talk to your high school academic counselor as well as a college admissions counselor at your preferred post-secondary school. These professionals will help you plan so you use your financial investment and time wisely.
Online Education Can Be Essential
If you are trying to fit in more classes each semester to finish your degree more quickly, you may run into scheduling problems. If two courses that you need to take are only offered at the exact same time, you simply cannot take both … in person. Online bachelor’s degree programs can add flexibility to your schedule so you can take additional classes.
Utilizing online education strategically can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree by as much as 30 percent. The flexibility may give you the freedom to take additional courses because you won’t be driving to and from campus. You can also find programs that allow you to start and stop on your own schedule. If you finish the class quickly, you can move on to the next one, even if the traditional semester is not over. When taking advantage of online degree programs, work with an academic counselor to ensure you are getting the right courses for your degree requirements.
Take Advantage of Flexible Schedules
Today’s colleges and universities recognize the fact that many learners are not on traditional college schedules. As such, they provide flexible scheduling, working with summer semesters, flexible online programs, and even evening or weekend classes to allow students to attend classes whenever they need to. Take advantage of this flexible scheduling to fit college around work and life responsibilities. This will allow you to continue your studies even if your life situations have changed temporarily.
Choose an Accelerated Degree Program
Accelerated degree programs take the traditional coursework for a particular bachelor’s degree and consolidate it into a shorter time frame. The coursework is quite intense because these programs do not sacrifice the quality of the education and its contents, so make sure you are prepared for a heavy workload for a short period of time. Accelerated programs require far less of a time commitment and work well for dedicated, academically minded students.
Take Summer Classes
Going to school in the summer is something many college students aren’t used to after graduating high school but taking an entire three to four months off of school can push off graduation quite a bit. Instead, consider summer as just another semester, and take classes during those months. This can help you get in the classes that don’t fit in your regular schedule. It can also help you eliminate some of the time your degree takes. As an added bonus, some schools reduce their tuition costs for summer classes to encourage more students to attend, so you might save a little money while saving time on your bachelor’s degree program.
Don’t Change Your Major
One of the biggest reasons students end up taking many years to complete their bachelor’s degree is because they change their majors partway through their education. This happens because many college freshmen are unclear about where they want to take their professional lives. However, changing your major can mean the need to take new core classes, and it can also mean that the classes in your major field you already took are no longer valid toward your new degree.
If you’re unsure about what you want to do with your professional life, consider using the first two years of your bachelor’s degree to take core subjects that apply toward all majors, such as English, history, and basic math or science classes. Talk to an academic counselor about the best general ed classes to take while you’re still deciding on a major. As you get further in your degree, you can feel more confident selecting a major you’ll stick with on the way to graduation day.
Post University Bachelor’s Programs
Now that you have answered, “How long is a bachelor’s degree,” you are ready to get started. Post University has a wide range of four-year bachelor’s degree programs in both the arts and the sciences that are designed to fit into your schedule. Whether you enroll full time to maximize your time and graduate as quickly as possible or you desire a part-time, flexible schedule to work while studying, you will find an option that fits. Post University also has associate degree options for those who feel they will benefit more from two-year degree programs. Browse available undergrad programs today, or reach out to an admissions counselor to learn more about how to maximize your time to finish your degree as quickly as possible.
Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!