Accelerated undergraduate programs offer focused and determined students the convenience of finishing their degrees at a faster time than average.
Almost every degree (from associates to bachelors to masters) is offered in an accelerated format online. This guide breaks down the primary differences between what online acceleration means at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Definitions of Acceleration
If you’re thinking about accelerated education online, it’s essential to understand that there is no single definition of “accelerated” or “acceleration.” Each institution and program has a different understanding of what those terms mean.
There are some common and frequent enough differences between how accelerated undergraduate programs and accelerated graduate programs define these terms. For undergraduate programs, acceleration comes in the form of the acceptance of transfer credit and accelerated courses and semesters. For graduate programs, acceleration generally only comes in the form of accelerated courses and semesters.
Requirements to Apply
Because accelerated programs best suit dedicated and ambitious students, the requirements may actually be more stringent than regular programs. Accelerated undergraduate programs, for example, often require a certain GPA from high school or previous higher education institution to apply. Some even require that you are older than a certain age because they cater to adult learners. Others may require that you have already completed a certain number of hours at another institution.
Many accelerated graduate programs also require a minimum GPA at the undergraduate level to apply. A major difference you’ll find at the graduate level is that accelerated graduate programs often require a specific major, degree, or course work to be completed before application. For example, if you apply to an accelerated MBA program, you’ll probably be required to hold a business-related degree and maybe even one specific to your desired MBA concentration (like Finance or Marketing, for example).
Accelerated Undergraduate Degree Programs – Time to completion
The basic difference is that it usually takes longer to obtain an undergraduate degree than a graduate degree.
Of course, a very advanced degree like a doctorate (which is available online in an accelerated format in some fields) may take longer, but most online learners in accelerated graduate programs are seeking a master’s degree.
Some of the most popular online and accelerated graduate degrees take a mere one year to complete! An accelerated bachelor’s degree earned through accelerated undergraduate programs usually takes between one-and-a-half to three years to complete, depending on how many transfer credits you’re able to receive.
Many accelerated graduate programs (like MBA programs, for example) have a fairly rigid curriculum designed for their students. In other words, there isn’t much wiggle room in terms of the choices you get as a student.
There may be options within a concentration or specialization, but the primary requirements are often the exact same for each graduate student. Because these programs are offering graduate degrees to students at a much quicker pace, this aspect of accelerated graduate programs is actually essential to maintain that promise. With more flexibility and choice comes the danger of a student not finishing at that faster pace. Because of this, a lot of accelerated graduate programs place their students in a cohort of other incoming students and not only do they complete the same courses, but they complete them at the same time in lock-step with one another.
The curriculum options for accelerated undergraduate programs are quite different. Like in a traditional program, there will be basic and major requirements to fulfill, but flexibility within those requirements. You will probably encounter similar students in your online courses, but you likely won’t follow courses in lock-step with a cohort like you might at the graduate level.