Accelerated Classes – The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best 4 to 8 Week Online Courses

Accelerated classes allow you to finish your classes in half the time.

Yes, half the time.

Instead of spending 16 weeks in class, you can get those same college credits in 8 weeks or less.

Crazy, I know.

In a hurry to get started? Purdue now offers 6 week online courses and Ashford University offers 5 week online courses. Both universities are accredited and offer complete degree programs online.

Accelerated Classes Online


Colleges Offering Accelerated Classes Online

Course lengths for each university are listed below:

All of the universities listed above offer online degree programs.

Advantages of Accelerated Classes

The primary advantage of an accelerated course is that you can take a full-time course load while only having to juggle two courses at a time.

Some of the key benefits of accelerated online classes include:

  • Earn 30+ college credits per year while only taking 2 classes at a time
  • Login to your classes online, any time of the day or night
  • Complete more courses in a shorter period of time
  • Earn your degree faster than students enrolled in 16-week classes

Accelerated courses may be a good option for you if you are highly-motivated and have the ability to learn independently.

Disadvantages of Accelerated Classes

The primary disadvantage of an accelerated course is that you have to cover the same amount of course content in a shorter period of time.

Some of the challenges of accelerated classes include:

  • Due to the accelerated pace, you will have to absorb course material more quickly
  • Shorter courses mean you will have shorter deadlines for assignments
  • Some subjects might seem more difficult to absorb at a faster pace

Although accelerated courses can help you finish your degree faster, you will still have to do the work of an entire semester in a shorter time period.

Accelerated classes vs. Traditional courses

The biggest difference between an accelerated class and a regular class is the pace at which you will be learning the material. This pace also depends on the type of accelerated class you are taking. For example, a 12-week class won’t be as demanding as an 8-week class.

Other differences include:

  • Accelerated class assignments are more concentrated and highly-focused
  • Greater demand for a structured study regime
  • Less time between exams and learning new material

In my experience, the need to find a balance between everyday life and the demands of your coursework is one of the biggest differences between traditional and accelerated courses.

The fast-paced learning environment will require you to spend more time studying and completing assignments, so don’t be surprised if it takes some time for you to find the balance between your education, career, and other daily obligations.

How do I get started?

So, you’ve decided that you want to take an accelerated class…

Now what?

The first step is to pick a college offering accelerated classes and enroll.

Here’s a list of colleges offering accelerated classes online:

All of the universities listed above offer online degree programs in a wide-range of fields.

Typically, an accelerated class operates in a similar way to traditional classes – just at a faster pace.

Whether you’re a student just out of high school or a working adult returning to college, chances are that you’ve already begun the countdown to graduation.

With the availability of accelerated course options, you can get there faster, and many students (myself included) find that these classes are an exciting, challenging way to fast-track their degree program.

How do you login to online classes?

You’ll get an email that invites you to each class, so just click on the link they send to you. You can also just go to your university’s website and login via the student portal link.

Once you are logged in, you will see an option to navigate to your online class portal. Select the course you want to enter from the list of your registered courses and you will see a screen similar to this one:

Login screen for Blackboard online class

Most schools will have some sort of online “orientation” for you to understand the basics about your university accounts and how to logon to classes.  Be sure you don’t miss this if they do or you could find yourself struggling to understand what’s going on in your program.

The two most common online course portals are Blackboard and Moodle.

Here’s an example of the Blackboard portal used at universities like Johns Hopkins, Boston University, and Central Michigan University.

Other universities, like Idaho State University and the University of California -Irvine, prefer Moodle, another popular learning management portal:

Do I have to login to online classes at a specific time?

In most cases, no.

Accelerated classes can be synchronous or asynchronous.

Most online classes are asynchronous, meaning you can login to your class whenever you feel like it. All course videos, assignments, and tests are uploaded ahead of time and you can complete your assignments anytime, provided you meet your professor’s deadline.

Synchronous (at the same time) classes do, in fact, have a class time and you will need to log in at that specific time for live lectures and discussion.  Such courses are pretty similar to any other “normal” university class except that your classmates are onscreen instead of in a seat next to you.

These are increasingly rare.

Where do I find my online course materials?

When you login to your course, there will be a direct link to your assigned readings, projects, and exams. Don’t worry, it’s easy to find and there are TONS of how-to instructions if you’re new to all of this stuff.

Screenshot for accelerated classes classroom

You will also be able to view a copy of your course syllabus to help you stay on top of your weekly readings, lectures, and assignments.

How do you listen to class lectures?

Your professor will be the one who decides how to deliver lectures, but in most cases, you learn and absorb class material on your own as you complete the assigned readings and related assignments.

In some rare cases, you may be required to watch live lectures at a set time each week, but this is the exception, not the rule.

What kind of classroom participation is required in online courses?

Classroom participation.

Ahhhh, the easy A when you’re attending class on campus.

With accelerated online classes, classroom participation is measured by your level of engagement with the online discussion boards.

In my experience, this is also an easy A.

Each instructor has their own way of measuring participation. Some instructors require that you post once per week and reply to two other students’ posts. Other instructors don’t require you to reply to other students. It just depends on your professor.

If this is an area of concern for you, you can generally view a copy of the course syllabus before you register for a class. That’s what I do.

Here’s an example of class participation requirements for an online history course:

accelerated classes syllabus

As you can see from the course syllabus, in addition to weekly readings and lecture presentations, you’re also responsible for replying to a discussion question with a minimum of 300 words, demonstrating course-related knowledge, and at least 1 source. Then, you have to reply to 2 other classmates with a minimum of 100 words.

To give you an idea of the look and feel of your course discussion board, here’s an example from the Blackboard online learning portal:

Blackboard discussion board screenshot

In my experience, posting to the discussion board takes a minimal amount of time each week, but it’s a great way to interact with your classmates from around the country (or globe).

Do you need textbooks in an online class?

Most instructors require textbooks, but you can usually pick up the most popular textbooks as eBooks (purchase or rental).

This is a much cheaper option.

For example, let’s say you need a textbook for your Project Management class. The hardcover book goes for $139 on Amazon. The same textbook can be rented as an eBook for $11.99 at Chegg (or a similar book rental site).

Online course textbooks

Some instructors may forego a textbook in favor of a “readings packet” which might be available on the class’s main Blackboard page as a PDF file or with links to articles, videos, etc.  It really depends on what kind of class you are taking and the instructor’s preferences.

Most Common Assignments in Online Classes

Every professor has their own preferences, but the majority of online instructors use one or more of these assignment types:

  1. Discussion boards. A popular way to recreate classroom discussions on a virtual platform. Usually, these are fairly informal, short assignments.
  2. Quizzes. Quizzes are taken online. They’re generally true/false or multiple choice.
  3. Midterms. These come in a variety of formats:  Timed/Untimed, Multiple Choice, True/False, Short Answer, or Essay. It depends on the professor.
  4. Essays / Research Papers. These could be anything from 1-2 page essays to full-fledged research papers.
  5. Team Project. An occasional class may require a team project. This is a pretty broad “catch-all” category that could include art projects, business models, or writing software code.
  6. Labs. Some science and technology classes will have lab work.  This is, obviously, less likely for an online class, but it’s not inconceivable. For example, some IT classes may have a few computer labs as part of the course requirement.
  7. Case Studies. Case studies can be a pretty common component in business classes, but other majors use them as well. For example, your finance class might require you to study the financial statements for Krispy Kreme to give you an opportunity to apply some of the core competencies you’ve learned in class.

How do you turn in assignments?

The instructor will tell you how to submit your work on the first day of class.

In most cases, assignments are submitted through your online learning portal, whether that’s Blackboard or Moodle.

In the case of quizzes and tests, you simply click on the “exam” link and answer all of the questions from inside the learning portal. When you finish the assignment, just click submit.

If you need to submit an essay or research paper, you generally do this by uploading the assignment inside your learning portal.

submit online class assignments

It works a lot like sending an email attachment. Just choose the file and click upload.

How are accelerated online classes graded?

Generally, accelerated classes are graded the same way as regular classes, with either letter grades or total point accumulation systems.



Most instructors will post your grades in a Grade Center on the course software page as you go so you know what your accumulated grades are on any given day.

How do you take exams in an online class?

The most common exam formats are taken through the Blackboard or Moodle learning platform. These can be timed/untimed, true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, a combination of these, or an essay.

In the example below, you can see how a quiz might appear in the Moodle learning portal.

Moodle or Blackboard learning

In some cases, an instructor may require a proctored exam. Just contact the testing center at your local community college or university. They will setup a date and time for you to take the exam.

How do you contact your professor?

Email is the most common way to reach out to your professor, but the online learning portals also have chat rooms for more general questions.

Some professors may also give a phone contact for their office or their department secretary.

In most instances, instructors make a reasonable effort to get back to you within 24 to 48 hours.

How do you get extra help when you need it?

It depends on the university.

The syllabus will usually tell you how to access the online library, research portals, and the university’s technical assistance department (if you’re having problems with the course software).

Some colleges provide the same services as a traditional class such as a writing center, tutoring, counseling, and mentors.  Blackboard and Moodle also have links to a number of resources in the “Tools” menu on the course page.

What kind of hardware and internet requirements are there?

As an online student, you’ll be dependent on your computer and your internet connection.

Each university will set its minimum IT requirements, but let’s take a look at the University of Phoenix as an example.

Hardware requirements:

  • A computer processor of 2 GHz or faster
  • 4 GB RAM or greater
  • A high speed internet connection with a connection speed of 1.5 MB/s or better.
  • Speakers/Headphones and Microphone
  • Web camera capable of video web conferencing

These are considered the minimum requirements.

How many weeks are accelerated classes?

Accelerated courses come in several formats and vary by school.

In general, an accelerated course will cover the same course material as a 16-week semester-long class, but in less time.

The most common lengths are 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 6 weeks, and 8 weeks long.

How many hours per week will I spend in accelerated classes?

Generally first year, freshman level classes require a bit less work and upper level classes will demand more of you.

A general rule of thumb is: you should expect to spend two to three hours working outside of class for each hour you spend in it.  So, if it’s a 3-hour-a-week lecture, you will probably need to spend 6-12 hours a week doing reading and homework.

List of colleges with 4 week online courses

List of colleges with 5 week online courses

Complete List of Colleges with Accelerated Online Courses

List of Colleges with Accelerated Online Classes Length of Online Courses
American Interncontinental University 5 week or 10 week
Ashford University 5 week classes
Brandman University 8 week classes
Brenau University 8 week classes
Cameron University 8 week classes
Central Texas College 8 week classes
Charter Oak State College 5 week or 8 week
College of DuPage 8 week classes
College Of Southern Nevada 4 week or 8 week
Colorado State University 8 week classes
Colorado Technical University 5.5 week or 11 week
Columbia College 8 week classes
Davenport University 8 week classes
Elizabethtown College 5 week classes
Ellis College of NYIT 8 week classes
Excelsior College 8 week classes
Fisher College 8 week classes
Granite State College 6 week classes
Indiana Institute 0f Technology 5 week and 8 week
Indiana Wesleyan University 8 week classes
Keiser University 4 week classes
LeTourneau University 8 week classes
Liberty University 8 week classes
Lynn University 8 week classes
Mount Olive College 8 week classes
North Carolina Wesleyan 8 week classes
Northcentral University 8 week classes
Park University 8 week classes
Peirce College 3 week and 8 week
Post University 8 week classes
Purdue University 6 week classes
Regent University 8 week classes
Regis University 8 week classes
Saint Leo University 8 week classes
Southern New Hampshire University 8 week classes
University of Houston – Downtown 8 week classes
Thomas Edison State College 8 week or 12 week
Troy University 9 week
University of Maine at Augusta 7 week
University of Maryland – University College 8 week
Upper Iowa University 7 week
Walden University 8 week classes

Take the Next Step!

Shorten the time it takes to earn your degree and get one step closer to your long-term goals with accelerated classes!

Request more info from one of these accredited universities offering accelerated online courses:

All of the universities listed above offer online degree programs in a wide-range of fields.

This article is brought to you by
Joy Miller
Joy Miller
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