2021 Best Accelerated Online Degree Programs for Working Adults
Accelerated online degree programs for working adults can make it possible for you to obtain your degree in less time while maintaining your other life responsibilities.
There are a range of degree options available that suit a variety of interests and career goals. Accelerated bachelor degree program options span from accounting, business, and marketing to healthcare administration, psychology, criminal justice, and beyond.
Pursuing accelerated programs may allow you to fast track college credits and benefit from flexible programs so you can complete your education in less time.
Accelerated Online Degree Programs for Working Adults
There are a number of quick and easy online degrees that allow you to balance your educational and career goals. The degree path that’s best for you can depend on where you want to take your career over the long term. These programs are often beneficial for many students going back to college as an adult.
You may also want to consider any future educational goals, such as enrolling in an accelerated master’s program.
Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
- Education (Teaching)
- Healthcare Administration
- Human Resources
- Human Services
- Organizational Leadership
Both of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.
Online Bachelor’s in Accounting
An online bachelor’s in accounting provides you with knowledge and skills surrounding various accounting principles and practices. This type of degree can prepare you for a career in finance, where you can work with numbers on a daily basis.
Common careers in this field include accountant, auditor, financial analyst, financial advisor, budget analyst, bookkeeper or accounting clerk, and financial examiner. Accounting professionals develop skills that are utilized and in demand across all sectors of the economy.
They can be employed in government and nonprofit organizations, finance and insurance firms, healthcare and social support services, and manufacturing, education, and technical services.
As part of an accounting program, you may study topics like accounting principles, income tax, preparation of financial statements, ethical accounting practices, auditing, finances in nonprofits, and forensic accounting.
Additional coursework may include business and tax law, management principles, financial management, cost accounting, and federal tax accounting.
You may also have the opportunity to specialize in a number of concentrations as part of your degree. Specializations include real estate finance, information systems, supply chain management, and accountancy.
Online Bachelor’s in Business Administration
Online bachelor’s in business administration degree programs are meant to provide you with a well-rounded, holistic understanding of basics business principles ranging across different disciplines, such as finance, law, economics, and marketing.
The interdisciplinary approach to BBA programs can help prepare you for a variety of career options. Common careers in this field include human resources manager, financial analyst, marketing specialist, accountant, or operations manager.
Positions that you may qualify for with a business administration degree can reach across different professional areas. These areas can include project management, finance, marketing, human resources, research, manufacturing, sales, and customer service.
Courses in this type of program can include business communications, microeconomics, macroeconomics, digital foundations, business law, managerial and financial accounting, and business statistics.
Other courses may include human resources management, organizational behavior, operations management, principles of leadership, and international business.
Online Bachelor’s in Communications
Online bachelor’s in communications programs are designed to provide you with knowledge and expertise in areas related to verbal and nonverbal communication styles and strategies. This may apply to one-on-one conversations, group interactions, or communication through mass mediums.
Some graduates pursue roles as marketing specialists, advertising and promotions managers, public relations specialists, writers, editors, or media and communication specialists. The versatility of a communications degree can also allow for opportunities in event planning, fundraising, journalism, or news broadcasting.
Courses topics in a communication program can include advanced public speaking, business communication, interpersonal communication, communication theory, leadership and communication, or communication in social media.
Other courses may cover communication for managers, communication in a crisis, nonverbal communication, and conflict resolution.
Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice
Online bachelor’s in criminal justice programs are intended to provide you with knowledge and understanding in the areas of criminal law and procedure, criminal investigations, crime scene analysis, and criminal psychology.
As an interdisciplinary field of study, criminal justice degrees can help prepare you for a variety of positions in the field. Some graduates go on to become police officers, detectives, correctional officers, or correctional treatment specialists.
Professionals in the field may also pursue positions as paralegals or legal assistants, forensic science technicians, or private investigators. This degree option can also be the first step toward advanced positions in the field, such as a lawyer, criminal attorney, or psychologist.
In a criminal justice program, your studies can include an introduction to criminal justice, ethics and criminal justice, juvenile delinquency, criminology, theories of corrections in the justice system, and criminal law.
Online Bachelor’s in Education
Online bachelor’s in education degree programs are designed to provide the skills and understanding required to instruct students at varying ages and knowledge levels.
If you enroll in an education program, you may have the opportunity to select a particular educational stream. Options can include elementary education, English as a second language, middle school education, high school education, or special education.
In some cases, you may be required to specialize within a specific academic subject area, such as math, science, English, physical education, or social sciences. What jobs you qualify for will often depend on the specific concentration and specialization you choose to pursue.
Common careers in the education field include elementary school teacher, middle school teacher, math teacher, science teacher, special education teacher, or high school teacher, among others.
Your bachelor’s program may include course topics like elementary school curriculum, middle school curriculum, diverse learning techniques, teaching reading to new learners, instructional design principles, and behavioral differences in the classroom. Your coursework will vary based on your educational track.
Online Bachelor’s in Finance
Online bachelor’s degrees in finance aim to provide a solid understanding of financial principles relating to corporate finance, investing, private equity, and budgeting.
Positions in the field of finance may be available across a variety of industries. Some of these industries include government, nonprofit, academia, finance and insurance firms, research, and manufacturing.
With an online bachelor’s in finance, you may be prepared for a variety of finance-based career paths. Graduates tend to pursue careers as accountants, financial analysts, auditors, investment fund managers, mortgage underwriters, and credit analysts. Other career options include risk analyst, loan officer, or financial manager.
A degree program in finance typically includes courses on managerial finance, principles of accounting, microeconomics, macroeconomics, financial portfolio analysis, mathematics for business, financial modeling, and investment management.
Additional courses, such as supply chain management, financial budgeting, business statistics, and business law, may also be required.
Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration
Online bachelor’s in healthcare administration programs focus on teaching the administrative and operational side of the healthcare industry. They prioritize topics like leadership, human resources management, finance and economics, legal considerations, and ethics.
In some cases, depending on the offerings of specific schools, you’ll have the option to specialize in certain areas of study. Areas of specialization within healthcare administration can include health information management, patient safety and quality of care, project management, and operations management.
Professionals in the field may work as health policy analysts, health services managers, social and community service workers, human resources specialists, and information management specialists.
You program’s curriculum may include courses on healthcare economics, strategic management in healthcare, policy development in healthcare settings, financial management and budgeting in healthcare, and ethics and legal considerations in healthcare.
Online Bachelor’s in Human Resources
Online bachelor’s in human resources degree programs are designed to provide an understanding of employee management in relation to compensation, benefits, operational policies, and performance management, all with consideration of employment laws.
Common HR careers include human resources assistant, benefits coordinator, payroll specialist, recruiter, employment specialist, or human resources manager. Additional career options include training and development coordinator, job analyst specialist, and labor relations specialist.
As a human resources professional, you may find rewarding employment opportunities across various fields, including government, nonprofit, finance, insurance, research, technical services, manufacturing, and more.
An HR degree program will likely include courses on employment law, compensation and benefits, recruitment, economics, total rewards, management principles, organizational behavior, and human resources strategy and development. Other courses may cover performance management, training and development, job analysis, and labor relations.
Online Bachelor’s in Human Services
Online bachelor’s in human services programs are designed to provide knowledge and understanding in relation to social service, advocacy, and at-risk populations.
With your degree, there may be a number of career options available to you across different areas. These sectors can include public safety, juvenile justice, mental health and addiction services, nutrition, family services, and housing.
Potential career paths in this field include social and human services assistant, health educator, community health worker, social and community services manager, and substance abuse counselor.
You may have the option to refine your studies by selecting a concentration. For example, you can choose to specialize your human services degree in child and family services, substance abuse, or gerontology.
Your coursework will likely cover an introduction to human services, communication skills, human services organizational systems, and public policy and advocacy in human services. Additional courses may include abnormal psychology, case management, ethics and legal considerations, sociology, and research methods.
Online Bachelor’s in Management
Online bachelor’s in management programs are intended to provide an overview of key management principles. They often encourage you to specialize in specific areas of business to develop a more in-depth understanding and skill set.
When pursuing a bachelor’s in management online, you may have the opportunity to choose from specializations. Common specialty areas include accounting, business analytics, finance, hospitality, supply chain management, and information technology.
Other areas of specialization include human resources management, small business management, and sales and marketing.
Positions that you can qualify for will vary depending on your specialization. Some common careers in this field include marketing specialist, human resources manager, information technology manager, business analyst, accountant, and data analyst.
Your management program’s coursework will likely cover topics such as financial accounting, budgeting and forecasting, project management, management of technology resources, human resources management, and marketing.
Online Bachelor’s in Marketing
Online bachelor’s in marketing programs help provide an understanding of various marketing concepts, including sales, marketing management, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and market analysis.
A marketing degree can help prepare you for positions in a variety of industries, such as sales and advertising, public relations, media, communications, or management. Graduates tend to become marketing specialists, market research analysts, advertising managers, or sales and promotions coordinators.
When pursuing an online bachelor’s in marketing, you may be required to complete a variety of courses that build on the foundational principles of the marketing profession. Marketing courses generally cover topics like introduction to communication, marketing analytics, digital media marketing strategies, and consumer behavior.
Other courses may include professional selling, social media marketing, project management, and global marketing practices.
Online Bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership
Online bachelor’s in organizational leadership programs are generally centered around the relationship between psychology, leadership, and business.
Professionals in this field may work as human resources managers, employee relations specialists, health services managers, community services managers, or operations managers. These positions can exist across various industries, such as healthcare, finance, government, private business, nonprofit, and education.
When pursuing a bachelors in organizational leadership, your coursework will often stem from different disciplines, such as human resources management, psychology, research, management, and business.
Some courses may cover introduction to leadership, organizational behavior, conflict management and negotiation, and organizational change. Other courses topics can include human resource management, personnel psychology, microeconomics, financial management, and business law.
Online Bachelor’s in Psychology
Online bachelor’s in psychology programs are meant to provide an in-depth understanding of theoretical psychological principles. They also help you develop the necessary skills to apply those principles to individual, social, and organizational contexts.
Online psychology programs may offer you the opportunity to focus your studies on a particular area of concentration. Common specializations include substance abuse, criminal justice, forensic psychology, human services, organizational psychology, and general psychology.
The positions you can qualify for will vary depending on your area of specialty. Some graduates pursue work as youth workers, case managers, substance abuse counselors, behavioral disorders counselors, or mental health counselors.
As part of your program, you may complete courses such as introduction to psychology, cross-cultural psychology, social influence and behavior, psychology and gender, cognitive psychology, and human development.
Courses can vary depending on your area of concentration. More specialized courses include criminology and social control, criminal profiling, workplace psychology, psychological disorders, and forensic evaluation.
Ways to Accelerate Adult Degree Programs
Degree programs for adults typically offer various ways to accelerate your studies and obtain your degree in less time and with more flexible study options.
Methods such as accelerated online classes for adults and self paced online college degrees are two common options that may be available to you. You may also be able to earn credits for prior learning or test out of college courses in order to fast track your degree.
Accelerated Online Courses
While traditional courses are generally offered in 16 week semesters, accelerated online courses may be offered in shorter 8 week terms. Depending on the school and program, courses may be offered in 5 week, 6 week, or 7 week sprints.
When it comes to accelerated online courses, a few areas of study include accounting and finance, business administration, computer science, criminal justice and crime scene investigation, education, disaster management, English, and environmental policy development.
In order to be eligible for enrollment in some accelerated online courses, you may be required to have already completed a certain number of college credits.
Self Paced Online Degrees
Self-paced online degree options may be a good fit for you if you require a good deal of flexibility in your courses to accommodate other life demands.
Self-paced learning options can also be helpful if you find that traditional programming moves too slowly or too quickly for your learning style.
Credit for Prior Learning
Adult learners can also try to receive credits for prior learning to expedite their studies.
Through prior learning assessments, you may be able to earn course credits by demonstrating knowledge and skills that you’ve gained through various life experiences. This can include military training, work experience, on-the-job training, and other informal learning experiences.
The specific process for awarding prior learning credits varies from one school to the next. A common method, though, is for you to submit a portfolio that details your experience and prior learning that can apply to your chosen degree path.
Test Out of College Courses
Testing out of college courses is another option that can help you move through adult degree programs at a quicker pace.
Testing options include College Level Examination Program (CLEP), DSST, Excelsior College Exams (ECE), Thomas Edison Credit by Exam Program (TECEP), and university challenge exams.
These examinations can test your level of knowledge and understanding in a particular area of study. If you pass an exam, you can earn credits without completing courses themselves.
The process for testing out of credit can be different for each school. Universities can also have different policies regarding the maximum number of credits that you can test out of for your academic program.
Fast Online Degrees for Working Adults
There are a number of fast online degree options for working adults, including educational programs that allow you to earn an accelerated bachelor’s or accelerated master’s degree.
Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Accelerated bachelors degree programs for adults who are working can offer you the opportunity to maintain employment while advancing your education and ability to qualify for more advanced positions.
Notably, many accredited universities offer accelerated online courses that are often 5 weeks to 8 weeks long, with 8 weeks being the most common. This means that accelerated degree programs can generally be completed in less time than traditional programs that follow 16 week semesters.
With an accelerated program, you may be able to earn your bachelors degree in 2 years to 3 years instead of the traditional 4 year timeline. If you’re able to transfer previous credits into the program, that timeline may be reduced further to around 18 months. Accelerated programs may also grant credits for prior work experience.
Accelerated Master’s Degree Programs
Master’s degree programs generally take between 1.5 to 2 years to complete when attending on a full-time basis. In comparison, accelerated master’s degree programs can often be completed in as little as 12 to 15 months.
In some cases, accelerated masters programs are combined into a bachelor masters program, in which you are able to obtain both degrees in a blended program. This option can reduce the number of years required to earn both degrees.
Traditionally, earning a bachelors degree and then a masters degree can take between 6 to 7 years. Choosing the blended learning option may allow you to complete them both together in 4 years to 5 years instead.
Admission requirements for undergraduate bachelor degree programs can vary depending on the school and program you’re interested in attending. Some common criteria may include:
- High school transcripts or GED
- Personal essay
- SAT or ACT scores (if required)
As part of your application, you may also be required to submit transcripts from any postsecondary education programs you’ve completed. If you’ve completed any postsecondary credits, you can seek to fast-track a program by transferring previously earned credits into that program.
Regional accreditation can be an important consideration when choosing an accelerated online degree program. The accreditation status of a school and its programs signifies that their educational offerings meet a specific set of predetermined quality standards.
A program’s accreditation status can impact a number of circumstances, including your ability to obtain financial aid and transfer credits into another education program.
Whether your bachelor’s degree program is accredited can also influence enrollment eligibility in graduate programs at a later date. The accreditation status of your degree program can also impact hiring decisions by potential employers.
For more information on the accreditation status of prospective schools, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.
When pursuing an accelerated online degree program, you may be eligible to receive financial aid from a number of sources. Financial aid options for qualifying students can include:
- Grants and loans from the federal and state governments
- Scholarships from public and private organizations
- Professional development programs through your employer
- Work-study options through government institutions
- Financial aid for military veterans and families
Eligibility for each type of financial aid can vary depending on the criteria of the funding program. For example, some scholarships are designated for specific areas of study or population types, such as minorities or low-income students.
In some cases, funding opportunities also exist from the school you’re interested in attending. These options may be available in the form of grants or scholarships. For more information on financial aid opportunities, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Why Online Accelerated Degrees Can Be a Good Option for Working Adults
Non-traditional students can include those who are working, have been out of high school for a number of years, have children, care for elderly parents, or hold a GED instead of a traditional diploma. Regardless of your situation, you may be able to take advantage of online accelerated degree programs to achieve your educational goals.
It can be beneficial to take college courses for adults through an accelerated online degree program. Here are just a few potential benefits:
- Easy access to education: Online formats can offer easier access to education.
- Convenient learning options: Accelerated online programs offer manageable learning options with shorter duration courses and self-paced learning options.
- Balance of school and life responsibilities: The flexibility of online learning can help you manage other demands of life, such as work, family, and friends.
- Reduced financial burden: You may reduce the financial burden of a degree by continuing to earn an income while completing your program.
In addition, if you’re working while studying, you may also be able to directly apply what you’re learning to real-world employment scenarios. Each accelerated degree program may offer a different structure and provide additional benefits, depending on your specific needs and career goals.
How to Choose an Accelerated Degree Program
When comparing accelerated degree programs offered by different schools, there are a number of things you can consider, including the following:
- Attendance structure: You can choose whether to attend on a full-time or part-time basis.
- Learning preferences: You can decide if you’re interested in participating in online learning or if you prefer in-class options.
- Type of program acceleration: There are different accelerated program options available, such as shorter duration courses, self-paced courses, or dual degree programs.
- In-person requirements: It helps to understand if there are any in-person requirements, such as placements, internships, or clinical hours.
Program structures and accelerated program offerings can vary greatly from one school to the next.
What Can You Do with a College Degree?
Simply obtaining your degree is not a guarantee toward a certain salary or career, but it can be a step toward your goals and can help prepare you in the process. Earning your college degree may come with a number of benefits related to earnings, employability, and job satisfaction.
College grads typically benefit from higher annual earnings when compared to those without a bachelors degree. Higher education is also linked to lower unemployment rates and higher job satisfaction.
Is a College Degree Worth It?
Yes, a college degree is worth it for many working adults. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning a college degree can be advantageous for many current and future job markets. Pursuing higher education is tied to higher earnings and increased employment levels.
In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that a number of positions that require bachelors degrees as an entry-level education will experience job growth over the next ten years.
These positions include accountant and auditor (4% job growth), elementary school teacher (4%), human resources manager (6%), public relations specialist (7%), management analyst (11%), and market research analyst (18%).
Fast Track Your College Degree Online
Whether you are just starting your educational journey or are going back to grad school at 25, if you’re a working adult, you may be interested in earning an accelerated online degree to fast-track your education.
Accelerated online programs generally offer shorter duration classes and more flexible learning options that allow you to balance life’s other demands, like work and family. There are a variety of degree options available through a fast track method, ranging from human services and criminal justice to management, finance, marketing, and beyond.
Earning your college degree may lead to increased earning potential and career advancement. It can also set the foundation for earning graduate degrees in various fields down the road. You can start your educational journey today by discovering which online accredited degree programs best fit your interests and career goals.