Credit requirements vary a little by program, school, and state, but generally speaking, an associate’s degree requires 60 semester (90 quarter) credits.
Traditionally, an associate’s degree takes 2 years to complete.
However, many colleges and universities today are offering accelerated online degree programs that can cut your time substantially.
For example, you can complete your Associate’s degree in 1 year and 6 months online as opposed to 2 years using the traditional route. Instead of taking 4-5 classes per semester, you take 2 classes per term, and a term might only last as little as 5 weeks.
Let’s attempt to do the math:
You need 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits to obtain an Associate’s degree.
On a traditional schedule, most people take 15 credits per semester. Usually, a semester lasts 15 weeks. This averages out to about 1 credit per week.
On an accelerated schedule, students take 6 credits per term. The shortest term lasts 5 weeks. This averages out to 1.2 credits per week. We’re already picking up speed.
Did you know that accelerated students usually skip vacation? They don’t go on spring break. They don’t take summer vacation. They just keep right on trucking. This speeds things up even further.
If you complete 1 credit per week in a traditional format, you’ll complete 60 credits in 2 years.
If you complete 1.2 credits per week and you skip vacations, you’ll complete 60 credits in 50 weeks, which is less than 1 year.
* Now, be mindful that many schools that offer degree programs online have about a week off between terms. So, it’s probably more realistic that you’ll complete your Associate’s degree in as little as 1 year and 3 months, with 1 year and 6 months being most realistic. Even if you go to college online, there are still some schools that will serve up your Associate’s degree in the usual 2 years.
A big number of online programs go year round. There’s no Summer vacation and the biggest holiday season, Christmas, gets you out of school for about a week. “Accelerated” means “accelerated!”
Of course, there are a zillion other factors to consider. But, it’s pretty hard to deny that participating in an accelerated online program will accelerate you. You will earn a degree in less time.
Of course, programs vary and some online schools won’t admit they are offering accelerated programs. So be sure to ask questions before signing on the dotted line. Ask the admissions office just how long a degree will take, and when you can expect to graduate.