How Many Years is an Undergraduate Degree?

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How many years is an undergraduate degree? If you’ve always wondered how many years an undergraduate degree takes to obtain, and if it’s worth it, this guide is for you.

How Many Years is an Undergraduate Degree

Many people don’t get their degree because they worry about the time commitment. The good news is, you can get your undergraduate degree on your own time, and with flexible schooling options.

How Many Years is an Undergraduate Degree?

undergraduate degree students studying in the library

An undergraduate degree is typically 4 years for a bachelor’s degree or 2 years for an associate’s degree. The time to completion can also vary depending on your college major and level of enrollment.

Compare the two types of undergraduate degrees for a more in-depth look:

Both of these degrees qualify as undergraduate degrees, and they can help you get your foot in the door with plenty of different entry-level jobs.

Associate’s Degree

associates degree student studying in campus

Associate’s degrees are sometimes known as two-year degree programs because they generally take students two years to complete. If you are going for your degree online and need a more flexible class schedule, you can take more (or less) time to complete your associate’s degree.

These degrees are excellent because they provide you with enough education to get a job in your field, and you can also transfer over your credits to another school to complete your bachelor’s degree.

Many students prefer to get their associate’s degree in a broader field, and then hone in on their major through their bachelor’s degree, and maybe even a master’s degree or doctorate.

Bachelor’s Degree

bachelor's degree students studying together

When many people think of undergraduate degrees, they are picturing bachelor’s degrees. These so-called four-year degrees can be either Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees.

Although many students typically get their bachelor’s degree in four years, you can earn your degree in less time or you can stretch out the time table if you wish. Many schools are entirely flexible and will work with you to address your needs.

A bachelor’s degree can easily set you up to get your master’s degree or doctorate.

In fact, if you want to enroll in graduate programs, you need an undergraduate degree in a related concentration. Both associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees are worthwhile to have and can open plenty of doors for you in your chosen career field.

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate College with an Undergraduate Degree?

undergraduate college student studying on her laptop

Although you can take as long as you want to finish up your bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree, you will need to complete a certain number of credit hours. Since associate’s degrees are generally obtained in a shorter amount of time, their credit hours are less than a bachelor’s degree.

The answer to how long is an undergraduate degree often comes down to how many credit hours you can commit to.

Associate Degree Credits

To get your associate’s degree, you will need to complete 60 credits.

Some classes have more credits than others, so check with your curriculum and school before working out what your credit hour total will be. These hours can be split up any way that you would like, but most students prefer to spread them over a two-year period of time.

Bachelor Degree Credits

bachelor's degree students studying together in library

To get your bachelor’s degree, you will need to complete 120 credit hours. As with an associate’s degree, you can split these up any way that you would like, and some classes are worth more credits than others.

If you want to accelerate your undergraduate degree, you can always take more credits in a semester. Speak with your individual school for details on what to do.

Once you complete these credits satisfactorily, you will be awarded with an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. You can then use that degree to get a job in your field or work towards higher education with a master’s degree or a doctorate.

Factors That Allow You To Finish an Undergraduate Degree in Less Time

undergraduate degree student studying together

If you want to finish your degree in less time, there are several different types of accelerated learning programs that will allow you to accomplish that goal. Fast-track programs are available for both bachelor’s degrees and associate’s degrees, and you can usually shave about a year off of your degree.

Consult your individual school to learn what’s available. You might be surprised by how quickly you can obtain your degree and start your new career.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Undergraduate Degree?

undergraduate degree students studying on their laptops in a cafe

Most students earn their associate’s degree within two years and their bachelor’s degree within four years. There are accelerated programs that will allow you to earn your degree quicker, and you can take a little bit of extra time if you need to.

Ultimately, it’s not about the overall length of the degree; it’s about the course hours required to see it through to completion.

Can I Finish My Undergraduate in 3 Years?

You can absolutely finish your undergraduate degree in three years. Associate’s degrees often only take two years to complete, as long as you are studying for traditionally-lengthed semesters.

You can also apply for a fast-track program to get your bachelor’s degree in three years. This will enable you to accelerate your schooling and begin your career sooner than later.

What Is an Undergraduate Degree vs. Graduate?

undergraduate students studying in the library

The main difference between an undergraduate vs. graduate degree is the content that is covered. Undergraduate degrees are usually seen as more basic-level learning, whereas graduate degrees are seen as more specialized learning.

When wondering what is a graduate degree, just know that an undergraduate degree in a relevant field of study is required to have before you can apply for a graduate program. Often, you will need to furnish your degree and transcripts.

What Is Considered an Undergraduate Degree?

Associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees are considered to be undergraduate degrees. The undergraduate degree that is best for you all hinges on what you want to do with it after graduation. Some jobs only require an associate’s degree. For others, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree.

If you want to go on for your master’s degree or doctorate, you will need to provide proof that you obtained a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study.

How Much Does an Undergraduate Degree Cost?

undergraduate degree students studying in college campus

All schools are different, but generally speaking, associate’s degrees are less expensive than bachelor’s degrees. This is simply because you are often in school for less time. If you want to offset the costs of your degree, there are plenty of financial aid options available to students of all ages.

Take advantage of loans, scholarships and grants to make your college payments smooth sailing.

How Many Semesters Are in a 4 Year Program?

There are eight semesters in a traditional four-year program. These semesters run in the fall and spring, and you have two of them per year.

Similarly, those who get their associate’s degrees also take two semesters a year, but they only have four in total.

Getting Your Undergraduate Degree Online

undergraduate degree student studying online

If you have always wanted to further your career and advance in higher education, now is the time. You are never too old to go back to school and get your degree, and having an undergraduate degree can make you a lot more competitive in the workplace.

Specific jobs actually even require college degrees, so if you don’t have one, you won’t even be in the running. With so many online schooling options, there’s no reason not to get your degree. You can set up a flexible class schedule and work at your own pace.

You will be amazed by how many doors open up to you once you’ve secured your degree. Don’t wait!

Sarah Walker
WRITTEN BY
Sarah Walker