50 Best Accelerated Online Degree Programs for Working Adults [2020 Ultimate Guide]
Where do you find the best accelerated online degrees for working adults?
Whether you are returning to school or have no college education under your belt, you can get your degree online as a working adult.
We’ll show you can earn your college degree fast and improve your marketability in the workplace.
Accelerated Degree Programs for Working Adults
Click on the degree that matches your goals and interests:
- Business Administration
- Computer Science
- Criminal Justice
- General Studies
- Healthcare Administration
- Information Technology
- Legal Studies
- Liberal Arts
- Public Health
- Supply Chain Management
You can earn a degree in any of these subjects online. There are also plenty of other areas of study to choose from.
Accounting is perfect for students who love numbers, analysis, statistics, and those who want to help others make strong financial decisions. It incorporates the study of financial activities, particularly in making business decisions, and involves planning and analysis.
It also involves learning how to measure, process, analyze, and communicate financial information about an organization to different stakeholders to facilitate improvements.
An accounting degree could help land you a job as a data analyst, business administrator, manager, management consultant, banker, financial adviser, or economist.
A Business Administration Degree equips you with critical skills in decision-making and helps you gain a systematic understanding of management-related problems and conceptual tools for analyzing and evaluating different management issues.
This course of study is excellent preparation for careers in business and management.
Possible career paths for Business Administration graduates include business consultant, market research analyst, human resource specialist, event planner, training and development specialist, loan officer, and marketing executive.
Hardware or software? You can take your pick of which you’d like to work in with an online computer science degree. You will, however, learn the basics of both so that you will be well-educated on the other side of the industry. This well-rounded education will allow you to work cohesively with other businesses and departments in your field.
You could become a hardware engineer, a professional app programmer, a web developer, video game designer, or electronic music composer. You could work for a large company designing computer systems, networks, or business software. Or, you could work for an app or game company creating the next popular title.
Of course, you could also go freelance with your talent building mobile apps or creating websites. You could even work as a consultant for small companies looking to upgrade the computer systems, servers, and networks. With technology being so much of a necessity in today’s work world, there really is no shortage of opportunities for CS graduates.
A degree in Criminal Justice prepares you for jobs in the police force, criminal courts, prison services, community safety, fiscal service, special agents, and restorative justice.
The scope of this degree continues to expand as threats to public safety (such as terrorism, cybercrime, and more complex criminal issues) continue to evolve over the years. More than ever, this field needs more trained professionals.
In this degree program, you will learn about key issues in criminal justice, such as the sentencing of offenders and the reputation and responsibilities of police forces. You will also develop your understanding of the agencies involved in law enforcement, government, and the court system.
If you have the passion to teach and create an impact in the lives of the youth, then an Education degree is the perfect stepping stone for you to achieve your teaching goals.
Most education courses are designed for students to gain ideas about education, research, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and history. To successfully pursue this course, you must have a genuine interest and commitment to teaching and have the necessary communication, organization, and interpersonal skills required of a teacher.
The top graduate destinations for this degree include education, social work, public administration, administrative services, support services, and skilled trades trainers. All of these fields need skilled educators.
When you study Finance, you’re opening yourself up for the opportunity to manage and create wealth. You’ll study accounting and investments as well as risk management.
You might advise companies or individuals on the best course of action to take with their money, including where to invest it for the best returns. It will be your job to study the world of finance to ensure that there are no unforeseen risks and that people and companies are prepared for any market changes.
As you’ve probably imagined, this is a very important role that you could fulfill as a financial analyst, financial advisor, investment banker, or fund manager. If you enjoy managing money, keeping up with the financial markets, and have a mind for business math, this could be the degree for you.
A lot of students who enter college don’t have a clear idea of what they really want to major in or which career path to choose. In this case, a General Studies course is the perfect choice. This gives students the opportunity to explore their interests, preparing them for a wide variety of careers.
Students who have a degree in General Studies have a number of career options to choose from. This includes careers in management, human resources, media, marketing, entertainment, and sports.
Because its focus is broad, students are able to choose the subjects they like, so they remain engaged in their coursework. This broad focus often sparks inspiration, which leads students to continuing in the bachelor’s degree program that they want to pursue.
The Healthcare Administration Degree is continuing to grow as the number of retirees continues to rise. This degree will focus on building your knowledge of anatomy and physiology, medical ethics, and administrative topics, such as business management, strategic planning, computer skills, and organizational leadership.
With the great demand in the healthcare sector, you can land a job in a variety of areas with this degree. Some career choices include hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, home care services, and government or non-profit agencies.
Health care administrators carry out a diverse range of tasks and make a meaningful contribution both to their workplace and to the community.
The Information Technology course of study is for those who love computing and technology.
This course is primarily focused on learning about software, databases, networking, and the theoretical and mathematical foundations of computing. It gives you an opportunity to learn and handle a variety of technology-related tasks and work in a variety of settings.
Information Technology graduates can pursue a career as a software developer, programmer, web developer, research scientist, computer systems analyst, network administrator, or IT consultant. The list of opportunities continues to grow.
Do you enjoy studying the laws of the nation and your state? Does criminal justice and the courts system intrigue you? If so, you might want to make Legal Studies your major.
In this degree program, you’ll gain a wide overview of the legislative system for how laws are created and the judiciary system for how they are enforced. Your role after you graduate could be political as you try to enact change or legal as you support lawyers or the courts.
You could use this degree to go on to law school or begin working as a lobbyist, paralegal, or court clerk. In most cases, you can choose which area of law most interests you. Whichever profession or specialization you choose, you can be sure that those who are educated in legal matters will always be in demand.
The rich and challenging degree in Liberal Arts allows you to explore the arts and humanities as well as build crucial skills in analysis and communication. Some of the subjects in this course of study are language, literature, philosophy, music, fine arts, history, geography, sociology, religion, and political science.
You can enjoy a wide variety of topics and gain perspective on personal ethics, cross-culture context, historical context, and environmentalism.
Career options for this degree include editor, journalist, writer, legislative assistant, librarian, and many others. With the variety of subjects you’ll study for this degree, you’ll have a wide range of job opportunities to choose from.
Management is a broad field that will prepare you to take a wide view. The role of management is to best utilize company resources to meet specific goals. Those resources that you use could be people, finances, or tools and technology.
To be a good manager, you need to think creatively and responsibly to make sure that people working under you are in the best roles possible and have what they need to perform. You will be an enabler to your employees and a steward of what the company entrusts to you.
To prepare you for this role, your course of study will most likely include accounting and finance classes, organizational leadership, team building, communications, and marketing. All of these areas of business will come into play no matter which specific job title you gain after graduation.
If you have strong communication skills, persuasive ability, and are interested in advertising and making innovations, then pursuing a degree in Marketing could be an excellent stepping stone for you to build a fantastic career in marketing.
Common skills you’ll learn include general numerical skills, the ability to analyze mathematical and statistical data, strategic planning, and advertising.
You will also learn how to examine every aspect of business and to analyze the customers’ experience. These skills are very essential for every successful marketer to help their organization attract new customers to their products or services.
Why do people think the way that they do? What makes them behave in certain ways? How can they change their thought processes and behavior? If these questions pique your interest, you might be well-suited for a career in Psychology.
Psychology majors study human development, cognitive and behavioral disorders, research methods, and counseling practices. You could use this degree to go on to a master’s program and become a licensed psychologist or you could take what you learn into the business world.
Many trained psychologists work as consultants or full-time employees of company marketing departments. As a Psychology major, you’ll gain insight into why people make certain decisions, how to influence them ethically, and how to help companies communicate with their audience effectively. Studying the human mind is applicable in nearly every industry.
A degree in Public Health focuses on supporting people in building a healthy lifestyle. It will give you ideas on how to tackle major health problems as well as understanding how to reduce health inequalities.
This course is ideal for those who have an interest in public health and science.
The best person for this field will want to work in the public sector, such as in hospitals, government, private organizations, and international agencies.
Some of the career paths include Public Health Practitioner, Epidemiologist, Data Analyst, Health Campaign Manager, Public Health Scientist, tutors, and lecturers.
Supply Chain Management
This degree can help you advance your career skills by providing you with a wider perspective on global supply chains as you develop the strategic and analytical tools to manage them.
This program covers the latest technologies and innovations within the supply chain and global logistics industry.
You will learn about blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and automation. You will also gain perspective on issues such as risk mitigation, sustainability, and ethics.
Accelerated Online Degree Program for Working Adults
You’re an adult. You work full-time, you have a family, you have a life… but you still want to get your degree.
This guide will walk you through the 6 ways you can get college credit for your life experience and even test out of a year of college.
- How to earn an accelerated degree online
- Accelerated online classes
- Self-paced degree programs
- Credit for life experience
- Credit for prior learning portfolio
- Testing out of college classes
- Financial aid for working adults
Using these methods and taking advantage of fast-track online degree programs for working can help you finish in as little as two years.
How to Earn an Accelerated Degree Online
Did you know your work experience, your skills, and your knowledge make you the perfect candidate for an online degree?
You have the drive, and you know how to get a job done. You have focus and determination.
Many universities have programs designed just for you. There are even policies written in academic handbooks to give you the break you need as a working adult to get ahead.
Most colleges recognize that there are multiple ways to learn and they are willing to award college credit for what you already know.
Option 1: Accelerated Online Classes
If you want to finish your bachelor’s degree in less than 4 years, then accelerated online classes are your answer.
Instead of sitting in class for 16 weeks (traditional semester), you can enroll in 8-week online classes. Some colleges even offer 5-week online courses.
One example of an accredited college offering accelerated online classes is Liberty University (8 weeks). By choosing accelerated courses, you can get to finish your degree faster AND complete your classes online at home in your pajamas after work.
Accelerated online classes operate just like traditional online classes. You register the same way and submit assignments the same way. The only difference is that you finish each class in half the time.
Accelerated classes typically run for 8 weeks, and you can take 2-3 classes at a time (depending on the university).
|Fall 1||3 classes x 3 credit hours = 9 credit hours|
|Fall 2||3 classes x 3 credit hours = 9 credit hours|
|Spring 1||3 classes x 3 credit hours = 9 credit hours|
|Spring 2||3 classes x 3 credit hours = 9 credit hours|
|Summer||6 classes x 3 credit hours = 18 credit hours|
|Total||54 Credit Hours Per Year|
Did you see that? You can earn 54 credit hours in one year! That is fast!
If you really want to go full throttle, Liberty University also allows you to apply for an academic overload (up to 12 credit hours per 8 weeks) if you keep your GPA up! Wow.
If you were to acquire 30 credit by exam credits (we’ll explain these in a bit), you can complete up to 84 credit hours in one year. That’s 70% of your degree!
Considering you only need 120 credit hours for your bachelor’s degree program, you can go from zero to done in less than 2 years using a similar schedule!
Option 2: Self-Paced Degree Programs
Are you a go-getter? If so, self-paced degree programs may be a good fit for you. These are also known as competency-based degrees.
Here’s how competency-based degrees work: You pay a flat fee for a specific time period. During that time, you submit assessments or portfolios for courses that you have mastered. If you learn fast, you finish fast. It’s that simple.
You are the one who controls the pace, be it fast or slow.
Capella University offers 2 different paths for a self-paced program: a Guided Path and a FlexPath.
Capella Guided Path:
The Guided Path is set up with your academic advisor. You choose the courses and follow an assigned schedule with deadlines.
You pay for each individual course and have regular check-ins with your advisor.
When you register for Capella University’s FlexPath, you are the one who sets the pace. You pay a flat rate for a 12-week cycle. During that time, you can complete as many courses as you are able to. Run, run as fast as you can!
You receive individual help with a tutor and get coaching support in putting together your personalized plan.
Self-Paced Degree Programs:
Capella University GuidedPath vs. FlexPath
|Capella GuidedPath||Capella FlexPath|
|Time to completion||Just over 2 years||Up to you!|
|Who determines speed||School’s class schedule||You!|
Self-based programs are becoming more popular as students like you who are already working are also attending college to get a bachelor’s degree.
Option 3: Credit for Life Experience
Do you ever wish that your years of work experience would count toward a degree?
Credit for life experience is your secret to earning credits for what you have already done (or learned).
Common achievements that are awarded college credit are listed below.
Credit for Life Experience
This list is just a small sampling of experiences that count for college credit
As you can, see you can earn credit for a variety of certifications and training…
and this list is only a sampling!
Almost all schools follow the guidelines specified by the American Council on Education (ACE) when awarding credit for life experience. Check them out to see a comprehensive list of college credit for workplace training guidelines.
Or, if you already have a university in mind, visit the school’s website and type in “credit for prior learning” in the search box to learn more about your prospective school’s credit-granting policies.
Option 4: Credit for Prior Learning Portfolio
If you have a significant life or work experience and want to receive college credit for it, most schools will ask you to submit a credit for prior learning portfolio.
Each college has a different but quite similar process.
The most common limit on credits for prior learning is 30 credit hours (the equivalent of 1 year of college), though there are schools that allow more.
First, you pay a portfolio evaluation fee and take an online credit for work experience course. At the end of your course, your portfolio is assessed, and you are granted the credit for your life experience.
Up to 75% of your degree could be met using credit for prior learning!
Option 5: Testing Out of College Classes
This option feels like it’s a secret. It’s something college advisors never talk about, yet nearly 3,000 colleges allow you to test out of college classes!!
There are quite a few nationally accredited credit by exam choices:
- College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
- Dantes Standardized Subject Testing (DSST)
- Thomas Edison State Credit (TECEP)
- New York University Language Exams
- Excelsior College Exams (ECE)
Using this list, you can register to take a 90-minute multiple-choice exam and earn 3 credit hours. That would usually take weeks of sitting in classes!
You don’t need to be an expert. You’re smart! You’re an adult, and you can learn quickly because you already have a lot of information stored up.
One of our staff members bought the study guide for the CLEP Natural Sciences exam worth 6 credit hours. They studied like mad for about a week, sat down, and took 90 minutes to complete the multiple-choice exam.
They walked out with 6 credits. Just like that.
You don’t even have to ace the exam. Most colleges will give you credit if you pass with 50%. Perfection isn’t necessary, just passing.
It takes a lot of work to finish quickly, but once you’re through, we think you’ll agree that it was worth it.
Financial Aid for Working Adult Learners
As a working adult, you know how expensive life is. Earning a degree will be another expense in your budget.
Good news! There is financial aid available for you when you take classes online. Even if you are over 18 and working.
A grant is money that is given to you based on some qualifications you may have. It’s usually for people earning lower incomes, but not always.
A grant is a gift and will not need to be repaid.
Some grants may be given only if you intend to work in a certain location. An example is the Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, which provides grants for students who intend to teach in elementary or secondary schools with students from low-income families.
To see if you qualify for any federal grants, fill out your Federal Application for Student Aid. Don’t skip this step, even if you don’t think you’re eligible. You MAY get some free cash for your college degree.
2. Student Loans
Student loans are an option for anyone who is enrolled in college courses at least part-time. Loans are borrowed money and must be paid back with interest.
A loan from the federal government will typically provide you with a lower interest rate and have more flexibility in repayment options. But private student loans from a bank are an option, too.
You usually don’t have to start paying on your student loans until a certain period after you graduate.
3. Interest-Free Tuition Payment Plans
Like buying a mattress or a car, some colleges will offer an interest-free payment plan. Here’s how it works at Liberty University.
Instead of paying a large lump sum at the beginning of the term, you have the option to select monthly payments. You set up a payment plan for your payments to be automatically charged to your bank account or credit/debit card.
This option helps by spreading the tuition amount over the course of months instead of a large payment all at once. And no interest! So, you pay the same in the end.
Scholarships are given based on some merit that you have. And you have merit!
There are 1,000’s of scholarships available from all kinds of organizations. Scholarships are as varied as the groups that offer them. They can be given for academic grades, playing basketball, attending a certain church, you or a partner working for a certain company, your hometown, what field you are pursuing, or being a member of a bird-watching club.
Some scholarships will be offered by your college. Other’s you can find by Googling “scholarship” + “your state/hometown/clubs/church/employer”
Reputable Colleges Are Accredited
When a college is legit, they aren’t afraid to list their credentials. Regional accreditation is the gold standard for colleges. Always check that your school is recognized by the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Regional accrediting bodies include:
- Higher Learning Commission
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
When you go to all the work of getting a degree, you need to know it will count. Accreditation keeps you covered!
Top 5 Benefits of Online Accelerated Degrees for Working Adults
Not everyone can afford to quit their job to pursue their degree, so that’s why we want to introduce you to a few accelerated online degree programs that are specifically made for working adults.
These accelerated programs make it possible and convenient to pursue the degree you’ve always wanted, whether it be an undergraduate or graduate degree.
For working adults, the best advantage of accelerated online degree programs is that you get to keep your job, but there are other amazing benefits to these programs as well. Because of these benefits, there’s no reason to say “no” to your dream college degree one more time.
1. Keep Your Job
These accelerated online degree programs cater to students who already have a job and plan to keep that job while pursuing their college degree. It’s not just a matter of making it work with whatever degree program you choose and sacrificing a lot while pursuing your education.
Since accelerated online degree programs understand your specific situation and the demands on you at work, they make it easier for you to maintain a full-time job while going after your degree. That’s not to say that it will be easy or stress-free to complete your degree, but your experience probably won’t be as stressful as if you had chosen a degree program that’s not geared toward working students.
2. Accelerate Your Degree
Finishing your degree faster means a potential promotion or job change. With that promotion or job change usually comes an increased salary and responsibilities. You may even qualify for a leadership position with your new degree.
Getting ahead of your peers who chose a non-accelerated route could mean the difference between a new and exciting position and simply staying within your current job. Accelerating your degree could also save you money in the short-term as well because you won’t have to pay for your degree as long as you would in a traditional degree program.
With financial benefits both short and long-term, it’s easy to see why choosing accelerated online degree programs pay off big.
3. Study from Home
When you’re working full or even part-time, it’s difficult to have to drive or take public transportation to class multiple times per week. And once you’ve established your routine with your job, it’s disruptive to change that routine.
Online programs enable you to study for your degree at home when you’re not at work. You could complete your coursework in the evenings, on the weekends, or for a few minutes here and there in between obligations rather than having to devote a certain number of hours per week getting to and from campus.
Plus, since you aren’t tied to any city through online programs, you can choose among a much wider selection of programs and really get the most out of your online experience.
4. Earn an Accredited Degree
No matter what level of degree you’re after (associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s), you can find many accelerated programs online that are accredited. Having a degree from an accredited institution means having a more valuable degree.
Earning a college degree from a non-accredited institution could affect your ability to obtain state licensure (to become a teacher, counselor, or accountant, for example), apply for a job, or apply to graduate programs in your field. When you earn your degree from an accredited institution, you can be assured you’re getting the best training possible.
Because so many accredited and top-ranked programs now offer online and accelerated formats, you could potentially earn your degree from a very well-known and respected school. The best part is that you don’t have to indicate on your resume that your college degree was accelerated or online; your degree will have the same value as someone who took longer to complete their degree on campus from the same school.
5. Network with other Working Adults Attending College Online
One advantage of accelerated online degree programs that may be less obvious is the fact that you’ll get to network with other working adults from across the nation.
This could increase your chances of hearing about a new job position since many job opportunities come about via word of mouth. You’ll also feel more at ease knowing that your classmates are in the same position you’re in, which could make it easier to collaborate, communicate, and organize group work with them. You won’t feel like you’re alone in your program, because you won’t be the only working adult.
List of Online Colleges for Working Adults
Below we’ve included a comprehensive list of schools offering accelerated online degrees for working adults like you!
Each of these universities enjoy good standing with their accreditation boards, offer a variety of degree programs, and make it easy for students to take classes online.
Check the admissions requirements and costs for each school before applying.
Ready to Get Started?
These 5 options to complete an accelerated online degree program for working adults are your golden ticket. You don’t need to put your life and career on hold while you go back to school. The options that are available allow you to continue to work while still speeding through your degree.
You get to set your pace. You can take classes around your schedule. Your life experience and prior learning WILL earn you credit. Plus, you’ll likely end up paying less than if you earned your college degree the traditional way.