Home » Accelerated Degrees » 1 Year Degree Programs

College students getting a one year degree onlineIf you are on the hunt for 1 year degree programs, you are not alone. Many students are looking for accelerated online classes to help speed up the time it takes to earn a degree.

One year degrees are a somewhat unique product in the educational market.  The education industry provides that option simply because there are many people that come looking for it.

The old business model holds true in that case… if there’s a customer base out there that will buy the product, then we’ll make it available.

That being said, the choice to go with a one year degree option introduces both some limitations on what you can study and also pushes you down a path to follow some accelerated methods to be able to finish the course requirements in the one year time frame.

The good news is, no matter what level of degree you’re looking for, be it a certificate, diploma, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree (the most difficult and requires overcoming a number of hurdles), or master’s degree, the one year option may be available to you, but it comes at a cost: your freedom.

Is a 1 Year Degree Program Worth It?

The first question on your mind should be, “What is the value of any particular one year degree should I decide to pursue it?”

In other words, which of these degree options will get me the best paying job?  You’re already in the mood to not waste your time going to school, so let’s make sure you don’t waste the one year you’ve decided to invest in your future.

Associate’s Degrees

Students enrolled in 1 year college degree programDepending on your educational background, the best option may be an associate’s degree from an accredited school. With an associate’s degree, you probably won’t get rich quick, but you’ll be able to afford your mortgage or rent and still put food on the table. Some of the more common associate degrees offered online are in accounting, business, education, psychology, and legal studies, among others.

There are quite a few universities that are offering accelerated 8-week classes. By enrolling in programs that offer classes that are half the length of standard semesters, you are able to earn college credits in half the time. Nice.

Remember, it may take you longer than 1 year to complete your degree program. It depends on how many classes you take at a time, the number of college credits you have already earned, and whether you are able to test out of some of your classes. The colleges do not make any guarantees that you will earn your degree at a faster pace, they simply offer classes at an accelerated pace.

It is up to you to work with your student adviser to discuss transferring existing college credits, take exams (such as CLEP exams) to earn college credit, or to find out if you can use military or work experience to apply towards the requirements of your degree plan. Programs vary widely by school, so be sure to check with your adviser.

Certificate Programs

Another option here is to even step back from a full associate’s degree.

Depending on your goals, you can pursue a lesser form of that degree called a certificate program, and you can do so from the comfort of your own home. Fields such as software development, information technology, business, accounting, medical assisting, and office applications are available under this format.

Bachelor’s Degrees

The option to obtain a one year bachelor’s degree is out there. I have actually encountered people who have met the challenge and won. However, they had no life while doing so. Their entire life was made up entirely of testing and school.

Personally, I would strongly advise against shooting for 1 year to complete a bachelor’s degree program. After all, the point of your education is to receive an education, not just blow through your courses with blazing speed.

1 year bachelor degree programThat being said, you can speed up the time required to earn your bachelor’s degree through a number of proven methods.

Before we dive into these methods, make sure that the college you select is accredited. Otherwise, all of your efforts will be in vain.

It is important to note that earning a bachelor’s degree in 1 year is highly improbable. It would be more reasonable to shoot for two years (or even two and a half years), and even then, everything has to fall into place perfectly. Your best bet is to enroll at an accredited university offering accelerated 8 week courses online.

Some methods you can use to speed up the time it takes to earn your degree:

  • CLEP exams
  • DSST/DANTES exams
  • ACE – Accredited Corporate Courses
  • DLPT – Defense Language Proficiency Test
  • Law Enforcement Training
  • Pilot’s License
  • Real Estate License
  • Institutional Credit-by-Examination
  • Professional Licenses
  • Professional Training (some colleges offer credit if you have proof/paperwork)
  • Military Training (most universities offer a certain amount of credit for military training)
  • Credit from previous college coursework

Obviously, you will need to have quite a bit of life experience, job experience, professional training, the ability to test out of classes, and even previous college credits that you can transfer into the program.

It is important to note that every university treats this type of alternative credit differently. I was able to test out of 18 hours of college credit (six classes) and I was able to earn 18 hours of “alternative credit” from documented work experience. This gave me 36 credit hours, enough to shave off an entire year (and then some) from my bachelor’s degree. Had I been in the military, had previous college credit, and so on, I could have shaved off even more time. As I said, each person’s situation is unique.

I would suggest contacting the adviser at your university to find out how many classes you can test out of, how many credit hours you can transfer into the program, and whether they offer credit for prior learning (typically, this is credit for military training, credentials and training you might have earned on your job, and so on). Most universities refer to this as portfolio credit, alternative credit, or credit for life experience. Again, treatment of this type of non-traditional credit varies widely by university. It isn’t an easy way to earn college credit and typically requires proof in the form of transcripts or documentation, and even letters of reference.

In addition to the methods described above, you can also speed up the time it takes to earn your degree by enrolling in accelerated online classes (typically 8-week terms).

students in an accelerated college classroomMaster’s Degrees

Master’s degrees in one year are a different animal altogether.

The bottom line is that you must have a bachelor’s degree first in order to pursue a master’s degree.

If you meet those criteria, then the one year master’s degree option is available, once again, online in an accelerated, distance learning format. The most common accelerated master’s programs are the 1 year MBA and 1 year Master of Education programs, but there are other 1 year degree programs open to you as well.

If you attend a university that offers 8-week online classes, you can attend all 5 semesters in one year (some colleges even have 6 semesters in one year by offering Summer-2). For the sake of discussion, let’s go with the most common format though: Fall-1, Fall-2, Summer, Spring-1, Spring-2. If you take just 2 classes per term, that’s 6 credit hours per term. 6 hours x 5 terms = 30 credit hours in just one year. Most master’s programs (non-thesis) are just 36 hours.

So, if you can manage to take an extra class during two semesters, you can finish in a year (provided your university allows you to finish on that timetable, always check first). Or, you can stretch it out and finish your degree at a more relaxed pace in about 15 or 16 months. That’s still not too shabby. Keep in mind that each university has a limitation on the number of hours you can take per term. I’d advise checking with each university’s academic adviser in advance to find out what you can and can’t do as you pursue your goal of locating 1 year degree programs.