Fast Track Degree Programs – An Overview


There is a new breed of degree programs fast gaining popularity. Schools and colleges have long since ceased to be the prerogative of the young’s who have all the time on their hands. Students are now increasingly mature and are either in the midst of a career break or switch and need to graduate as soon as possible. These new degrees are referred to as ‘fast track programs’ or ‘accelerated degrees,’ and are targeted towards students – young and mature, who are looking to own a degree faster and in a shorter time! This may include older students who have other commitments in terms of family and career and need to complete their degree quickly as well as traditional students who are simply eager to get on the fast track to begin their careers. A normal bachelor’s degree takes around four years to complete but now there are programs available which make it possible to achieve this goal even in as little as 24 to 36 months. These fast track programs are also marketed as a less expensive option to traditional programs, which have left countless students deep in student debt. Apart from the financial advantages, a fast track degree allows employees to move faster up the corporate ladder by gaining further qualifications or students, who have taken a gap year, to catch up with the rest of their peers.

Accelerated degree programs can be rather intense because they generally involve completing all of the required coursework in a limited frame of time as compared to being spread out over an entire semester. Students opting for an accelerated degree programs have to realize that there will be a great deal of work involved as these accelerated programs will still have all the basic requirements as traditional programs. Submitting assignments and completing coursework in a shorter period of time demands proper scheduling of time and discipline. Before registering for an accelerated program, it is also important to carefully review all of the course requirements. Keep in mind factors such as the amount of class time required and the time table of submissions and projects. Additionally, the methods for testing and submissions need to be noted as it is necessary to select a course where you can meet all of the requirements without any negative impact on your other commitments.

By enrolling in an accelerated college degree program you will be able to cut down the time spent on your education drastically. There are completely accredited and respected colleges that offer accelerated programs. Most of these programs also accept transfer of credits from previous courses as well. Applying and getting accepted in to an accelerated degree program is an extensive process which involves the completion of a definite set of entry requirements (these will be defined by the school so check carefully with your admissions office), completion of all application forms and submission of all previous school transcripts. Some programs may also ask for proof of previous work experience for admittance into the program.

So, if you are in a hurry to receive your degree, then you need to start planning and researching right away to find a fully accredited institution that suits you best. Once you have narrowed down the search to a few, check on the following:

• Inquire if the college offers exactly the type of degree you are looking for. Some colleges only offer accelerated programs for their Bachelor’s degrees or Master’s degrees, but many do offer both.

• Keep an eye on the costs. While cheaper than a traditional program, a fast track degree might not be applicable for funding or federal aid especially if you are a mature student. So speak to your school’s financial aid office. Also, check on the school’s policy on refunds and cancellations.

• Assess all the commitments demanded by the program. Find out what your class schedule is like and when study group sessions are held. Normally, these are not optional so you will have to factor them into your current schedule. Since these programs already meet on a limited basis, more than one or two absences can seriously jeopardize your ability to graduate.

• Inquire about the entrance requirements for the program. Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs have different requirements such as a minimum level of credits, GPA, and sometimes even work experience and referrals.

• Collect all your information before applying so that no further time is wasted. You might need letters from your employer, proof of work experience, copies of transcripts and diplomas from your previous school as well as letters of recommendation.

Once you have everything in place, and you enroll for your accelerated degree program, make sure that you are dedicated to complete the program and give it your best. You have already taken the first step towards jump starting your career. Now the only thing to do is to see it through!