A four-year bachelor's degree confers both transferable and major-specific skills. Most 120-credit programs feature three components. First, learners take general education courses in English, the humanities, and the sciences. Second, they complete major-related coursework. Finally, degree-seekers take electives in different subjects or complete a second major or minor.
Fast Bachelor's Degrees Explained
Learning outcomes for on-campus and online bachelor's degrees include a solid foundation of knowledge and skills alumni can further hone in a graduate program or use in the workplace. Bachelor's degree-holders benefit from higher lifetime earnings than workers who possess only a high school diploma. The Social Security Administration calculates that college graduates earn $900,000 more over a lifetime than individuals with only a high school education.
Application requirements for a fast online degree vary by school but often include graduating high school or passing the GED exam. Some schools request recommendation letters, a resume, or standardized test scores.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's Degree?
An online bachelor's degree qualifies graduates for entry-level positions related to their academic major. These positions often pay the least but allow workers to advance within their organization. On the job, professionals use and hone their subject-specific expertise. They also build on the communication, writing, and research skills they learned as undergraduates. Bachelor's programs emphasize these skills in general education courses.
In addition to helping workers find entry-level jobs, a bachelor's degree also plays a role in professional certification. Agencies and organizations that award certifications use education and experience requirements to recognize experts in their field. Like work experience, a certification can lead to a promotion, salary raise, or both. Professionals with a certification also possess an advantage in the job market.
For many students, a bachelor's degree is often a step toward a master's or doctoral program. The following section covers the benefits of a master's degree.
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Do I Need a Master's Degree?
The answer depends on your goals and your employer's requirements. Some employers restrict management positions to workers who possess a master's, significant work experience, a certification, or all three. Other employers encourage lower-ranking employees to pursue a master's by offering a tuition reimbursement program. Through a tuition reimbursement program, the employer pays for the degree if the employee agrees to work for the organization for a specific number of years after graduation. Employees who break the agreement pay back the degree's cost.
Professionals who choose not to earn a master's might still achieve career advancement through certifications or joining professional organizations. Many professional organizations host member-exclusive job boards and provide career tips.
Accreditation for an Online Bachelor's Degree
The fastest online bachelor's degrees should provide students with an outstanding educational experience and set them up for career success. When researching on-campus and online bachelor's degrees, prospective students should only consider programs at regionally accredited schools. In the United States, the Department of Education charters six regional accreditation agencies to review schools' academic programs. Learners who graduate from a school without this essential accreditation may face difficulty attaining a job.
Prospective enrollees should also check whether their desired schools are nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The DEAC determines whether a school's online programs offer the same rigor and learning outcomes as its on-campus programs. Online learners who enroll in a DEAC-accredited school can rest assured that they will receive a quality education.
Some academic majors feature programmatic accreditation. Agencies that provide programmatic accreditation focus on a single discipline. Their experts review a major or department's academic requirements and grant accreditation to only the best programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree?
Bachelor's degree-seekers complete general education and major courses. Learners work with an advisor to select appropriate courses in both categories. Advisors play an essential role in helping accelerated students graduate as soon as possible. Degree-seekers also take electives or complete a minor to attain a well-rounded education.
Graduation requirements can include maintaining a specific GPA, developing a portfolio, or completing a capstone. Online bachelor's degree-seekers may complete additional requirements, including an extended essay or presentation to professors and peers. Prospective students should contact a school's counselors for information regarding the undergraduate academic experience.
Courses in an Online Bachelor's Program
In major, general education, and elective courses, students develop and hone essential research, analytical, and communication skills. Nearly all employers that hire recent college graduates expect applicants to possess these skills and a desire to improve them on the job. Coursework in a bachelor's program emphasizes these skills through assigned reading, essays, and projects.
Most schools require the following courses in their general education curriculum. Prospective enrollees should note that academic requirements and course content vary among schools.
Common Coursework Covered
- Writing in the Disciplines
- This course conveys writing skills that degree-seekers need for a specific career. Much of the course focuses on technical language. Learners develop a flexible writing style, as their job may require them to write for people inside and outside of their field. The course may feature one or more prerequisite English courses, such as basic composition or another introductory course.
- Research Methods
- Many of the fastest online bachelor's degrees emphasize research skills. Learners analyze research relating to their field and practice different techniques through various projects. These projects involve performing research under a professor's guidance and writing essays. Students can apply their knowledge in both a career and a graduate program. Graduate programs emphasize original research that degree-seekers complete independently.
- General Psychology
- This introductory course emphasizes the field's history, major theories and figures, and neural anatomy. Typical course activities include reading primary and secondary source documents and discussing topics with peers in a virtual chat room. Students show mastery of course material through exams and essays. Learners may need to complete one or more courses in English composition before enrolling in general psychology. Degree-seekers can apply the skills they attain in this course in more advanced courses that require extensive writing and research.
- General Chemistry
- Non-science majors often take this course to fulfill their school's science requirement. Course topics include chemical compounds, gas laws, equilibrium, and the properties of solutions. Some schools may require learners to take a lab as a corequisite. A lab allows degree-seekers to apply their classroom knowledge in a hands-on setting and comprehend how chemistry affects real life. Students can sometimes choose other options, such as biology or physics, to fulfill their school's science requirement.
- Looking Forward
- This course introduces new degree-seekers to their school and resources. Students explore their interests and plan for their life after graduation. A school may require this course in either the freshman or senior year. First-year students take it to help develop an academic success plan .Seniors can research job opportunities and prepare an academic portfolio they can present to prospective employers.
Certifications and Licensure for Bachelor's Degree Students
Professionals with an online bachelor's degree can increase their career and salary potential by earning one or more professional certifications or a state-issued license. Organizations offer certifications to members, signifying that professionals possess expertise in their field. Professionals in some fields, such as teaching, need a license to practice in their state. Certification and licensure candidates may need to pass an exam, attain work experience, or pay a fee.
Professional Organizations for Bachelor's Degree Students
Professional organizations allow members to network, find a mentor, and research the latest career opportunities on private job boards. These organizations may also offer discounts on professional insurance and other goods and services. Joining an organization may require a one-time or annual fee.
Scholarships for Bachelor's Degree Students
Students pursuing an online bachelor's degree can access the same financial aid opportunities as on-campus degree-seekers, including scholarships. The five scholarships below award funding to undergraduate learners. Please use the embedded links, as application requirements, deadlines, and award amounts may have changed since this article's publication.
Fastest Online Bachelor's Degrees
LETU's online bachelor's degrees include 13 accelerated programs in areas such as computer information systems, cybersecurity, and theological studies. Business administration students can select from four entirely online majors, including nonprofit management and finance. Learners who major in interdisciplinary studies can complete extra courses to earn an initial Texas teaching license.
Career Services (CS) staff often host industry-specific career fairs and partner with local employers. CS also connects learners with cooperative education and internship opportunities, both of which can enhance a resume. LETU reports a 95% graduate placement rate.
The school uses a separate application for online and graduate programs and accepts new students in the summer, fall, and spring semesters. Prospective freshmen need a minimum 3.0 high school GPA. LETU awards three scholarships to online learners that award funding based on financial need or academic achievement. No institutional scholarships renew.
Business administration, computer science, and criminal justice learners enroll in Lewis' fastest online bachelor's degrees. These programs use accelerated eight-week courses, allowing students to graduate much faster than their full-time peers. Each program's website contains information on relevant careers.
Career Services (CS) directs online learners to free virtual services that include FOCUS 2 CAREER, a software suite that provides multiple career paths for each major. The CS website also features interviewing tips, resume advice, and a professionalism guide.
Application requirements can include a high school or GED diploma, prior learning assessment, and work experience. Lewis does not charge out-of-state tuition. Learners who take more than 12 credits per semester pay a flat tuition rate. Degree-seekers must submit a separate application for institutional aid. Some scholarships award up to full tuition to academically gifted undergraduates.
UW undergraduates can choose from two accelerated online bachelor's degrees: early education and integrated social sciences. Early education students can graduate in 2-3 years and can complete an optional certificate in practice-based coaching. The social sciences bachelor's-completion degree features coursework in social science theory, introduction to portfolios, and a capstone.
The UW Career and Internship Center (CIC) suggests that on-campus and online learners join an interest community to network with other students who possess the same career goals. The CIC also facilitates learners' professional success by offering DIY resources that include job-hunting tips and internship guides.
UW's minimum admission requirements include at least 45 transfer credits and a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA. The university does not ask for recommendation letters or standardized test scores. Prospective enrollees can check with the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards to learn more about the latest institutional financial aid opportunities.
Accounting and business administration degree-seekers enroll in one of NNU's two fast online degrees. Accelerated accounting students learn as part of a cohort, and business administration learners can earn the degree in just 16 months. Learners can complete both programs fully online.
Online and on-campus students turn to the NNU Career Development Center (CDC) to learn about internship opportunities and employers who recruit alumni. CDC also offers interview preparation, resume and cover letter critiques, and individualized career coaching.
Applicants need adequate transfer credit and a strong undergraduate GPA. Students who take 12 or more credits each semester pay a flat tuition rate, potentially saving them money compared to their part-time peers. Learners may qualify for $10,000-$16,000 per year in merit-based scholarships if they maintain a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA.
BU's online bachelor's degrees include one accelerated option in business administration. The average student can finish the 120-credit program in only two years, and the program accepts up to 90 transfer credits. The fully online curriculum requires coursework in diverse topics that include international business, marketing management, and a capstone in strategies development and implementation.
BU's Career Services (CS) website curates the tools students need to find a fulfilling career, including a career fair preparation guide, graduate school application tips, and resume templates. CS also awards college credit for internships and encourages all learners to participate in experiential learning.
Prospective students without college experience can submit either high school transcripts or GED scores. BU prefers but does not require ACT or SAT scores. Active-duty service members receive a 40% tuition discount. Merit-based scholarships award up to $9,000 to freshman and transfer learners.