Written by: CC Staff
In many industries, a bachelor’s degree has become the standard for entry-level professionals. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of adults over the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree rose to more than 35% in 2018. For nontraditional students and working professionals, traditional four-year educational pathways can present challenges. To accommodate the nation’s diverse student body, schools offer accelerated online programs, which allow students to graduate more quickly and on their own schedules.
In general, online students can speed up degree completion times through asynchronous and non-cohort study. Distance learners may take heavier course loads than on-campus students. Some accelerated programs accommodate large numbers of transfer credits, a great option for those with associate degrees or bachelor’s degree credits. Other schools allow learners to earn competency credits based on an assessment or evaluation test.
Some schools offer credit for life and work experience. In combination with flexible online study, these programs are particularly useful for experienced and working professionals. Not only can these learners leverage their practical experience, but they can also earn their degree while maintaining employment.
There are several ways to accelerate a four-year degree and plenty of options to consider. To make the decision process a little easier, the list below highlights some of the fastest available online bachelor’s degrees.
To accurately rank the fastest online bachelor’s degrees, we have considered several factors that benefit students. In addition to the average and fastest degree completion times, each of the accredited schools on the list below are ranked based on the quality and quantity of the programs available. We also factored in the flexibility and accessibility of the online programs, along with the reputation of the school offering them.
While most of the schools below accommodate transfer credits, the following ranking rewards alternative means of program acceleration. Continue reading to learn more about the fastest online bachelor’s degrees available in 2020.
Western Governors University
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Average Net Price: $7,205
Founded in 1997, Western Governors University became the first school to offer all bachelor’s and master’s programs through competency-based learning. Through this model, students progress through courses by completing assessments and demonstrating mastery, not by having to wait until the session ends. WGU’s competency-based learning gives students access to more than 20 of the fastest online bachelor’s degrees available, including programs in elementary education, data analytics, and cybersecurity and information assurance.
At WGU, assessments take the form of tests, essays, or projects and practical demonstrations. Courses start on the first of every month, and students that complete the minimum course requirement can add more as soon as they want. Since WGU’s tuition rates are term-based, the more courses students complete, the lower their overall tuition. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. They may also need to present work or college experience and may need to complete an assessment test.
WGU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Average Net Price: $13,387
Founded in 1993, Capella University opened with the goal of making education more accessible for nontraditional learners. The school offers two online learning formats to its more than 38,000 students, including a FlexPath that allows students to progress through their program at their own speed. Through this format, learners can access more than 15 accelerated online bachelor’s programs, including degrees in IT project management, human resource management, and healthcare leadership.
At Capella, students leverage their previous experience, knowledge, and learning to turn four-year programs into some of the fastest online bachelor’s degrees. Learners can take two courses at a time and move onto the next courses as soon as they complete their current studies. As many as 10% of Capella’s students earn a bachelor’s degree in one year.
For admission, FlexPath applicants need a high school diploma or a GED, along with at least 45 college credits and a minimum 2.8 GPA. Students can also save money through the school’s 12-week billing cycle, reducing costs by fast-tracking their studies.
Capella is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Location: Bloomington, MN
Average Net Price: $16,788
Opened in 1900, Rasmussen College focuses on providing innovative programs to its students. In 2016, the school introduced competency-based programs, which have become some of the fastest online bachelor’s degrees. At Rasmussen College, learners can access more than 15 accelerated online bachelor’s programs, including degrees in computer science, early childhood education, and health and wellness. The online programs deliver all coursework asynchronously and offer up to eight start dates per year.
Students at the college can accelerate their degree in a variety of ways. Traditional transfer applicants can receive up to 67% of the required degree credits through transfer, but they can also benefit from Flex Choice options. In addition to previous training, Flex Choice enables learners to earn credit for life, professional, and military experience. Students can also complete self-directed assessments to test out of courses or demonstrate proficiency through various projects available in the college’s competency-based programs.
Rasmussen College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado Technical University
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Average Net Price: $15,478
Colorado Technical University has focused on innovative learning since its founding in 1965. In 2000, the school introduced online learning to better accommodate its diverse collection of students. CTU then began Fast Track learning, which turned its programs into some of the fastest online bachelor’s degrees available. CTU students can access accelerated degrees in information technology, psychology, and business management, along with more than 40 other majors.
Leveraging the school’s prior learning assessment program, students at CTU can demonstrate subject proficiency and move through courses with ease. Each degree offers competency-based Fast Track exams. CTU graduates save up to 30% of time and money spent on their degree. Applicants can earn up to 75% of required credits through transfer. For admission, prospective students need a high school diploma or a GED.
CTU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
American InterContinental University
Location: Schaumburg, IL
Average Net Price: $12,036
Established in 1998, American InterContinental University offers students a variety of flexible study options, including more than 25 online programs in fields like media production, healthcare management, and fashion design and marketing. In addition to its traditional online program pathways, AIU offers some of the fastest online bachelor’s degree options. Learners can accelerate their progress through transfer credits, accelerated schedules, and the intellipath learning tool.
At AIU, online learners with experience and knowledge in a specific field can build on what they already know. Intellipath learning allows students to streamline their degree and reduce the overall costs. AIU also offers Accelerate Assessments, which allow students to bypass a course or subject in which they can demonstrate proficiency, usually through an examination. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or a GED.
AIU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Average Net Price: $21,276
Founded in 1970, Walden University offers more than 80 online programs and nearly 400 specializations. The university also offers some of the fastest online bachelor’s degrees in the country, including programs in criminal justice, computer information systems, and public health. At Walden, students can earn credit for work and volunteer experience, independent study, and certificates of completion. Combined with typical transfer credits, students can earn up to 75% of their required credits through transfer.
Most Walden applicants submit a prior learning assessment portfolio that includes all their relevant experiences. Experienced students may also test out of courses by passing an examination. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or a GED at minimum. Some programs may feature additional requirements.
Walden is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Average Net Price: $14,555
Opened in 1956, the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee serves more than 24,000 students through nearly 200 programs. UWM students can access resources from the extensive 13-member University of Wisconsin System, including some of the fastest online bachelor’s degrees. At UWM, students can take Flexible Option programs, including degrees in information biomedical sciences diagnostic imaging, health sciences, and information science.
In these competency-based programs, students can leverage their prior knowledge, experience, and training to progress more quickly. After demonstrating competency through examinations, projects, and other activities, learners are free to move on to the next course. During a three-month period, students can complete as many courses as possible, which can reduce tuition costs. UWM also grants credit through exams and military experience. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or a GED.
UWM is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Average Net Price: $11,898
Founded in 1869, Purdue University has grown from a single institution to three physical campuses and an online campus with more than 175 online programs, including some of the fastest online bachelor’s degrees in the country. At Purdue, online students can access ExcelTrack programs, which allow them to graduate more quickly and spend less money. ExcelTrack programs include degrees in analytics, healthcare administration, and cloud computing and solutions.
At Purdue, ExcelTrack programs feature single-credit classes that focus on a specific topic. If and when students feel they understand a course’s material thoroughly, they complete an assessment to move forward to the next course. Learners complete an assessment to determine where they should start in the program. Purdue offers a flat per-term tuition rate. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or a GED. They may also need up to three years of professional experience and college credits.
Purdue is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Arizona State University
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Average Net Price: $13,081
Arizona State University was founded in 1886 with 33 students. The university now serves more than 70,000 learners and is one of the largest universities in the nation. ASU offers more than 300 online programs, including 55 accelerated online bachelor’s degrees in fields like technological entrepreneurship, supply chain management, and software engineering. ASU offers some of the fastest online bachelor’s degrees available, with 2.5- and 3-year track options.
Online courses at ASU typically run asynchronously throughout 7.5-week sessions in the fall and spring. Accelerated options allow students to take classes during the summer semesters. To opt for an accelerated pathway, students need to speak with an academic advisor to determine their eligibility. For admission, applicants need to either graduate within the top 25% of their graduating class or have a minimum 3.0 GPA in competency courses. They also need to submit ACT or SAT scores.
ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
California Baptist University
Location: Riverside, CA
Average Net Price: $24,170
Founded in 1950, California Baptist University serves more than 11,000 students and offers more than 80 undergraduate majors. The university also offers more than 40 online programs, including some of the nation’s fastest online bachelor’s degrees. At CBU, online students take classes in two eight-week sessions per semester throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Available bachelor’s degrees include communication studies, kinesiology, and political science.
CBU delivers most online coursework asynchronously. In addition to accelerated sessions, students can transfer up to 100 credits from previous undergraduate study. Learners can complete some CBU majors in 16 months. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or a GED, along with ACT or SAT scores. Transfer applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.0 to earn transfer credits.
CBU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.