Professional Education and Career Blog

The Fast Track Degree – An Option For Finishing Your Uncompleted Degree

fastrunThere are many reasons why someone may have started college, but decided not to finish a bachelor degree. It may be that as simple as they went to a two-year and earned an associate degree, and decided that was enough. Or it may be that they started working toward a four-year degree, but for various reasons, they had to drop-out or enter the work force. If you’re finding that you would like to complete a bachelor’s and have previous earned credits from a regionally-accredited college or university, an interesting option is the Fast Track Degree. It can allow you to finish your degree in less time than a typical degree program.

Faster Time

Many schools offering the Fast Track degree allow you to finish the final two years of a degree program in 14-18 months. These programs are typically set up for adult learners, so they are scheduled around a typical working adult’s schedule. Many programs are even offered online, or with a partial online component. Northeastern University, for example, offers a 100% online option, or their partial option meets once per week and every other Saturday over a 12 week term.

Know What You’re Getting Into

An accelerated degree sounds great from a time-to-completion standpoint, but is it right for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Will It Fit Into Your Life? It’s not easy to pack a number of years of learning into 14-18 months. It requires much discipline and a commitment to keeping up with your studies. A fast-track program is highly structured and moves quickly. If your work schedule demands periodic “crunch times” or you find yourself having to travel, or you feel family commitments may pull too much of your time, the pace of an accelerated program may not be a good fit.
  • Do You Want to Control Your Curriculum, Electives, etc? The fast-track programs are typically designed to move you through as quickly as possible, and to do that they sacrifice the idea of being flexible. They have a way they impart their information, and that’s the way it is. Some people prefer the more traditional route of taking courses that allow flexibility, so you could add an addition minor or explore a broader variety of elective courses.
  • Will Your Credits Transfer? If you went to a regionally accredited college or university, chances are, they will transfer. But the only way to be sure is to check with the school and see what credits they accept. It may be that the decision is made on a course-by-course and department-by-department basis.
  • Do You Have Sufficient Experience on Your Resume? Many accelerated degree programs are designed for working adults with a number of years of relevant experience. If you haven’t been in the workforce for very long, or it’s in a different area than your degree, you may need to look around to find the right program.

Variety of Degrees

Although the usual suspects such as business degrees make up a lot of accelerated programs, there are actually a wide variety of degrees offered in the Fast Track format. This is just a small sample:

  • Finance/Accounting
  • Health Management / Health Administration
  • Information Technology
  • Organizational Communication
  • Cyber Security
  • Digital Cinema
  • Psychology
  • Computer Science
  • Business Forensics
  • Marketing
  • Criminal Justice
  • Paralegal Studies

reachThe Rewards May Be Worth It

According to Northeastern University, 25 percent of students who complete their Fast Track program get a promotion or raise. With the clear financial benefits that having a degree brings, it can be tempting to want to get that degree as soon as possible and start climbing the ladder. But it’s a good idea to be honest with yourself about whether a traditional pace might fit better with your lifestyle than trying to do the accelerated program. It’s much better to take more time and finish it, than to start a Fast Track and then find that it’s just not going to work in your present situation.