Top 15 Fastest Online College Programs

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We live in an age of instant gratification. We want it now or not at all. The constant innovations in technology are making this more and more possible, and some would say that’s a bad thing. We disagree when it comes to your education. Accelerated online degree programs are perfect for the ambitious, the dedicated, and those who want to jump on the fast track to reaching their goals.

Originally published: June 2023
Article updated: January 2024


If you want to earn a fast online bachelor’s degree, this is the resource that you’re looking for. These schools offer generous transfer policies and condensed course deliveries. And in some cases, these colleges accept work experience for credit. Plus, they feature accelerated distance education programs to help you graduate faster.

The fastest online college programs are not always easy to define. This is because each student has unique experiences and varying levels of education under their belts and a huge part of what makes these degrees so fast is what the individual brings to the table. However, we’ve done extensive research into accelerated online degrees and have compiled a list of the schools that give you all the resources you need to earn an online degree fast.

Speed is great when you are in search of the fastest online degrees, but it is crucial that you never sacrifice the quality of the education you pursue. An undergraduate degree is the foundation for everything you will do in your higher education journey and your career. And remember, the easiest online bachelor’s degree is not always the fastest.

We’ve got you covered. Some of these fast online schools allow you to earn your bachelor’s in just one year, but you’ll get the same rigorous and relevant education that you would if you chose to study in a more traditional manner.

SchoolTuitionAdmission RateGraduation RateScore
15Wisconsin Lutheran College$33,76294% 59%7
14Walsh University$33,23580%61%7
13Immaculata University$27,75070%67%7
12Park University$12,671100%21%7
11University of Wisconsin$10,79649% 76%8
10Eastern Kentucky University$9,84498%48%8
9Indiana Wesleyan University$29,68492% 63%7
8Southern New Hampshire University$15,38092%37%8
7University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley$9,53894% 47%8
6Lamar University$8,69088%33%8
5Colorado State University$12,87490% 69%8
4University of Arkansas at Little Rock$8,63358%43%8
3Arkansas Tech University$8,07194%40%8
2Western Governors University$8,010100% 51%8
1Florida State College at Jacksonville$2,938100% 39%8

All of the schools ranked in this article are excellent choices for earning an accelerated online degree, but we haven’t ranked them based on speed. Instead, we ranked them according to the following:

Methodology

The first step in creating our ranking was gathering a list of schools that offer fast-track degree options and paring that down to only include the schools that had the shortest possible time from enrollment to commencement. In order to be considered for our article, each school must be based in the United States, hold proper accreditation, offer at least one accelerated online degree program, and not operate as a for-profit institution.

Each school offering these online degrees got points based on the following:

  • Admission rate
  • Graduation rate
  • Tuition cost

In the event of a tie, the program(s) with the lowest tuition rates are given a higher ranking on our list. Here is a full breakdown of our method of allocating points:

Admission Rate

  • More than 50% – 3 Points
  • 25% to 50% – 2 Points
  • Less than 25% – 1 Point

Graduation Rate

  • 50% or Greater – 3 Points
  • 25% to 49% – 2 Points
  • Less than 25% – 1 Point

Tuition Cost

  • Less than $10,000 per year – 3 Points
  • $10,001 – $20,000 per year – 2 Points
  • More than $20,000 per year – 1 Point
Top 35 Fastest Online College Programs

Once each score was calculated, the schools were placed in order accordingly. The data that was used to score each school and curate the information presented throughout this article was collected from the schools’ websites whenever it was available. In the event that it wasn’t, we also used the databases of the National Center for Education Statistics and U.S. News & World Report.

Cost information is represented by either the rates for students attending online or the rates for in-state attendance. However, due to the fluid nature of tuition rates and the individuality of everyone’s financial situation, please keep in mind that your costs can vary. 

Online College Plan prides itself on transparency and providing you with the most accurate and helpful information and resources. In light of that, we want to point out that no institution is ever given preferential treatment for any reason. However, some schools that would otherwise be present have been omitted either due to insufficient data or per their own request.

1. Florida State College at Jacksonville

Our top-ranked choice for the fastest online colleges is Florida State College at Jacksonville. Not only does it have the most inexpensive tuition of any school on our list, but FSCJ has been recognized for its excellence in online education by several other different publications. They have a broad selection of online bachelor’s and associate degree programs and fully online technical certificates. They also offer multiple ways to help you graduate faster, including a +1 option and accelerated degree programs. Areas of study include:

  • Arts, Humanities, Communication, and Design 
  • Business 
  • Education 
  • Health Sciences 
  • Industry, Manufacturing, and Construction 
  • Public Safety 
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics 
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences and Human Services 

The online associate degree programs at FSCJ are accelerated and allow you to graduate in as little as 18 or 24 months. Many of the degrees also allow you to earn technical certificates as you complete them. Admissions are done continually, and there are multiple start dates throughout the year. All online programs are fully eligible for financial aid.

2. Western Governors University

Western Governors University is a fully online university where you can earn high-quality degrees in a broad range of subjects. They specialize in online education, so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality or rigor regardless of what program you choose to enroll in. All of their degrees are career-aligned and convenient to earn so you can get the knowledge and skills you need to get to work.

There are roughly 25 different online bachelor’s programs to choose from in various in-demand fields such as teaching, business, cybersecurity, nursing, and more. Classes are entirely online and delivered in an asynchronous format that lets you not only study when it is convenient for you but also at your own pace.

Thanks to the transfer credits you can bring with you and the opportunity to apply some relevant experience towards your degree, you can finish fast. The majority of their programs are structured so that you can complete them in as little as a year and a half. Thus, even those students who have less prior education experience tend to finish as much as a year earlier than traditional bachelor’s degree students.

3. Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University offers online degrees through what they call e-tech. A few different online degrees are provided, but the only option for accelerated online study is the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree. The program was designed especially for professionals seeking expansion in their professional lives or those trying to obtain the skills they need to land a good-paying job.

The core curriculum will equip you with highly desirable skills in any field, such as public presentation, communication, research, problem-solving, and even leadership. In addition, there are concentrations available that allow you to delve more into your chosen field. Through this fast bachelor’s online degree, you can learn about public relations, workforce technology, applied leadership, criminal justice, industrial/organizational psychology, child development, agricultural business, or interdisciplinary studies.

ATU helps you earn a quick degree in a few different ways. First, you can bring credits with you if you have attended college before. To determine how many credits you can apply to your degree, you will need to work with an academic advisor. Secondly, you can also earn credit for prior learning through a PLA. A Prior Learning Assessment could get you up to 12 credits from work training, exams, military service, or relevant experience.

4. University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has a simple slogan that goes a long way: Finish Strong. That is precisely what the university encourages students to do. Students at this school are eligible for financial aid on top of the standard rate tuition and will also pay fewer fees. In addition, hundreds of classes are available online and are taught by award-winning faculty.

UA Little Rock has 20 fully online bachelor’s programs to choose from, and there are more extensive opportunities if you’re interested in pursuing a certificate or a graduate degree. They are all extremely flexible, so you can work, take care of your family, and still have an everyday life while studying. 

Accelerated programs are offered for those of you who’d like to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Communication, or a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. They are eight weeks in length, or you can choose to complete them alongside 16-week courses. This university’s accelerated degrees are unique; even though you will still take one course at a time to keep focused, you will still maintain regular breaks throughout the year, and you will get a one-week gap between each course.

5. Colorado State University

Colorado State University is the parent institution of CSU-Global, offering over 40 online degree programs and certificates. Even though this university is entirely online, it is fully accredited and has robust financial aid opportunities for eligible students. Students also have the added bonus of flat-rate tuition that comes in way below the national average.

CSU Global was almost handcrafted for students like you: ones who are eager to graduate but do not want to put their lives on hold to do so. All of the programs are entirely online and asynchronous. There are no set times or locations that require your attendance, so you can do things however works best for you. In addition, CSU Global allows you to earn alternate credit for prior learning and experience and has an excellent transfer policy that will enable you to bring in up to 90 credits.

Classes start every four weeks and are presented in accelerated eight-week terms. This is one of the most flexible fast online colleges in the nation. Students can choose to study in the following areas: 

  • Accounting
  • Business Management
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Cybersecurity
  • Finance
  • Healthcare Administration and Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Human Services
  • Information Technology
  • Interdisciplinary Professional Studies
  • Management Information Systems and Business Analytics
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Project Management

6. Lamar University

Beaumont, Texas, is home to Lamar University, providing both graduate and undergraduate programs online. Undergraduate program courses can be taken in an 8-week format to accelerate your degree, and are also offered in the traditional 15-week format. Areas of Study for undergraduate programs include:

  • Applied Arts and Sciences
  • Communication – General
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Family Studies
  • General Business
  • General Studies
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Industrial Technology
  • Management
  • Nursing RN to BSN
  • Public Health in Healthcare Administration
  • Sociology
  • University Studies

Lamar is a fast-growing Texas school and a member of the Texas State University System. It maintains the lowest average tuition and fees of any university system in the state and is home to over 17,000 students. Nationally recognized for its high-quality curriculum, the university offers programs for students pursuing an education at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels. 

7. University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has a robust selection of online programs presented traditionally and in an accelerated format. There are accelerated programs in the fields of business, education, health sciences, nursing, public affairs, and social work. However, we’re focusing on fast online bachelor’s degrees in this ranking, and UTRGV only has one, an accelerated RN to BSN program online.

The university understands that there is a considerable demand for BSN-prepared nurses in the field and wants to give students an opportunity to combat that demand while working school into their busy schedule as a nurse. Therefore, there are several start dates throughout the year.

The program consists of 27 credit hours and can be completed in as little as one year. The courses are condensed to just seven weeks each. Students of the program are also eligible for the financial aid programs that the university offers. Classes are designed to help foster strong management and research skills, providing a great foundation to expand professionally or continue on to graduate study.

8. Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire, is home to Southern New Hampshire University, offering students over 200 flexible and affordable online programs. This accredited, nonprofit university is committed to helping career-minded students reach their goals and balance their busy lives with higher education. The school has some of the lowest rates in the country, and they have not increased their tuition in over a decade. Students can earn their bachelor’s degree online even faster by transferring up to 90 credits.

Additionally, the school’s career counselors, academic advisors, and admissions team will work with you to determine which credits will transfer and whether you are eligible for scholarships or financial aid. This is a massive bonus for students who are going back to school after a break from learning. SNHU makes it easy to navigate all the paperwork and decisions involved.

Some of the areas of study students can pursue at the university include:

  • Accounting & Finance
  • Art & Design
  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Health
  • Liberal Arts
  • Math & Science
  • Psychology & Counseling
  • Social Science
  • Technology

9. Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University is a private evangelical Christian institution located in Marion, Indiana. The university has almost 100 different online degree programs taught by the same faculty as that of the on-campus counterparts and are designed for adult learners. All of the programs they offer at the undergraduate level were created as degree completion programs which means that you will typically have to have at least 60 college credits to be eligible for enrollment.

There are dozens of undergraduate degree programs you can complete entirely online, in areas of focus like:

  • Business
  • Communication
  • Computer Science
  • Counseling
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Health Science
  • Leadership
  • Nursing
  • Psychology and Social Work
  • Theology and Ministry

The accelerated programs are not like others because most of them are presented synchronously. However, some programs won’t require as many credits for enrollment and may have asynchronous components.

Although you have to commit to meeting online for live classes, you shouldn’t let that deter you or feel like it will take you any longer. Classes are scheduled to easily fit into a busy life, whether your obligations are familial, professional, or both. Classes usually meet once weekly online, and you could graduate in as little as 18 months of full-time study.

10. Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University has been recognized as providing some of the best online bachelor’s degrees in America by U.S. News & World Report. The university offers over 50 fully online degrees and certificate programs that you can use to jump right into a career in business, law enforcement, insurance, social work, psychology, communications, and many more.  

EKU makes sure that the degrees they offer combine critical thinking and communication skills with the real-world knowledge you will need and can apply to your future right away. The typical program consists of 120 credits, and the university will accept up to 90 transfer credits. Classes are presented in eight-week terms; by customizing your course load, you can get a bachelor’s degree online fast.

Other advantages of selecting EKU to pursue your education are having a dedicated online academic advisor to help you every step of the way and having access to online tutoring and other resources, so you aren’t missing out on the incredible support the university provides. The flat-rate tuition combined with your potential eligibility to get financial aid can make this a quick and affordable degree.

11. University of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin is headquartered on its flagship campus in Madison, Wisconsin, but there are many campuses spread out across the state. The university system operates what it calls the ecampus, where you will find all of its online options, accelerated degrees, and standard. Degrees are offered at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level online, and there are some certificates as well.

UW offers individual accelerated courses that you can take as part of a traditional program, but that is just one of the opportunities to speed up your studies. The classes are offered in a few non-traditional time frames, including seven-week, eight-week, and ten-week sessions. The university places a bit of a limit on students interested in these courses as it is not recommended you take more than two at a time and only one if you are taking it alongside a regular class.

The university has one official accelerated bachelor’s program. The College of Nursing offers an accelerated online BSN degree that lasts for just twelve months. You will take classes rapidly: the rate is one credit hour per week with minimal breaks throughout the year. Students progress through the program in a cohort model and start in February, May, or October. All clinical rotations can be completed locally, making this a 100% online accelerated nursing degree.

For those who want to earn an online degree fast, the UW Flexible Option is another thing to look into at this school. There are several online degree programs offered with this option. However, the school does note that while most of the material is online, some classes may have hands-on components that are supplemental to the work you do online.

12. Park University

Park University offers undergraduate students more than sixty online programs to choose from. Online students at Park also have the full backing of the university, meaning that they have the same support as traditional students at the school. 

A few of the undergraduate bachelor’s degree options available include:

  • Accounting
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Information Management
  • Construction Management
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Early Childhood Education 
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Fine Art
  • Health Care
  • Information Systems
  • International Business
  • Logistics
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Military History
  • Natural Science
  • Nursing
  • Organizational Communication
  • Political Science
  • Professional Sales
  • Social Work
  • Sociology

Students also have the choice of several fully online minors to specialize in the field that they want to. Classes are presented in accelerated eight-week terms, which helps you to graduate fast. In addition, you also can choose any one of the five annual start dates, which makes Park University an adaptable and flexible option to earn a quick online degree.

13. Immaculata University

Immaculata University believes that your busy schedule should never hold you back from reaching your goals. Online students get online advisors and counselors, have access to services like tutoring and the writing lab, and learn from faculty with real-world expertise to share. The university offers a range of online bachelor’s degrees, including:

  • Allied Health for Clinical Professionals
  • Business Leadership
  • Business Management
  • Cybersecurity
  • Emergency Planning & Management
  • Health Care Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Marketing Management
  • Nursing, R.N. to B.S.N.
  • Organizational Behavior

Immaculata accepts 72 transfer credits if you have any prior experience in college. Regardless of what you decide to study, you will take entirely online asynchronous courses when it is convenient for you! The university’s flexibility makes it so that you can graduate in just two years.

Immaculata University also wants to make sure that online learning is accessible. Orientation, a success seminar, and a help desk make it so that you get entirely comfortable navigating the course delivery system before you even get started. Financial aid, scholarships, and an in-house installment plan also make it so that you don’t have to stress about affording your degree.

14. Walsh University

Walsh University is located in North Canton, Ohio, and has been recognized as a college of distinction and rated as a best buy in higher education. There are online degree programs in nursing, business, education, and behavioral and health sciences. The university has been lauded for academic excellence and prides itself on ensuring that the curriculum is very student-focused.

Walsh offers 20 accelerated online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for busy, working adults in several areas of study. These include Business, Communication, Computer Science & Information Technology, and Healthcare. Additionally, students can build their own major by choosing three areas of concentration. There are six start dates throughout the year.

At Walsh, you have the opportunity to transfer in as many as 92 credits from past college experience. You will be paired with a Student Success Advisor to help guide you through the process. The courses are provided in accelerated eight-week terms, and you can take two at a time if your lifestyle allows it. You can also opt for a 4+1 program to earn your master’s degree in one additional year.

15. Wisconsin Lutheran College

Wisconsin Lutheran College may be a private college, but it is unique among others across the country. The college prides itself on its affordable tuition rates and is ranked annually by many publications as one of the top schools in the country.

One excellent feature of this school is that every student has a dedicated personal enrollment advisor who will walk them through getting enrolled in classes and securing financial aid.

The only accelerated online bachelor’s degree program available at Wisconsin Lutheran College presently is their Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Business Management and Leadership.

Students can attend classes in Milwaukee for just one night a week or take all of their classes exclusively online. They are taught by faculty with industry expertise and years of experience. 

Students can earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Business Management and Leadership in just two years and can transfer credits from previous studies at an accredited college. Students who want to pursue this degree are also eligible for financial aid and can Convert prior learning from professional work and life experience into college credit.

Fastest online bachelor's degrees

You Might Be Wondering…

Is an Online Accelerated Degree Worth It?

The shortest answer to this question is yes! Investing in your education is an investment in your future, and you should never be concerned about that being a worthy decision. It always is! When it comes to an accelerated degree program, your concern might be related to the rigor of the program. Even in that case, we say yes.

Obviously, the condensed online course format in these programs isn’t going to be ideal or even possible for everyone. However, if you know that you’re the type of person who can put your head down and get it done, then it is a great option for you. Not only will you graduate faster and be able to take your next step sooner, whether that is further study or entering the workforce, but you will also gain skills that will stick with you for the rest of your life. Discipline, time management, and the incredible sense of accomplishment earning a quick online degree will give you will help shape you as a person and a professional.

A lesser-considered benefit of enrolling in an accelerated online degree program is the cost or lack thereof. You will still have to pay your tuition and fees, but you’ll be spending less time earning your degree and more time using it. You could pay considerably less by taking the fast track. If you have confidence that you could handle this type of program, it is definitely worth considering as an option.

Are Accelerated Degree Programs Harder?

This is entirely subjective. What you find simple may be very difficult for others and vice versa. What can be said about accelerated degree programs is that they are more intense. Remember that you’re not learning less or covering less material; instead, you are covering up to 16 weeks of material in sometimes as little as five weeks.

Accelerated online courses will demand more of your time every week, so you need to consider your current schedule and obligations outside of school. These types of programs can be just as demanding as a full-time job depending on your course load and you need to do everything that you can to ensure that you’re prepared for it. If you’re not ready for it, there are plenty of more traditional distance learning programs you can explore. Some fast degree programs do their part to help you balance your life better by limiting you to just one or two courses at a time.

The actual classes and assignments won’t be any more difficult –or any easier– than those you’ll encounter in a full-length degree program. The only difference is the amount of time you have to cover the material and learn the subjects at hand. You will have to finish the work faster to keep up, and that means dedicating more time to your schoolwork and dedicating more time to studying to make sure that you’re staying on track.

The rigor of an online accelerated college program might be much harder for some students, and you have to be honest with yourself. However, you should feel comfortable to challenge yourself and push yourself to do what you know you’re capable of.

An accelerated degree might be harder for some students, but the bottom line is that if you have the drive, the time, and the opportunity, you can make anything happen for yourself.

What is the Fastest Way to Get a Degree Online?

An accelerated degree completion program is always going to be the fastest way to get a degree online. These programs feature shorter courses, packing the material into a smaller window of time, which allows you to get more done in a calendar year than you could in a traditionally structured program of study. But, there are a few more things to consider that would speed up the process even more.

Firstly, you should consider any work training, volunteer hours, and even life experience that you have that could be regarded as relevant to your chosen field. Many schools give students the opportunity to earn credit for their past experience if they can demonstrate that they have mastered certain concepts and skills. These alternative methods of obtaining credit can push you closer to the finish line for sure.

Secondly, you may have some prior college experience that you can apply to your degree. Not all credits are going to transfer appropriately and not every school is going to be generous with their transfer policies but if you had taken a few community college courses or completed part of a program before life pulled you away from your studies, there are plenty of options for you to tack those credits on to your transcript and skip some of the required courses.

Lastly, there are several different types of exams you can take that will save you precious time if you can demonstrate your proficiency in a particular area. Not every school welcomes this type of credit, so you should always talk to an advisor to get any additional information that you don’t find in your own research. Challenge exams, CLEP tests, DANTES, and even AP exams taken in high school might award you some college credits and save you some time.

Where Can I Find Quick Online Degrees?

Now that online education has boomed in popularity over the past few years, finding the degree program you’re looking for can feel very much like a needle in a haystack situation. However, the broad range of options is a positive thing overall. It means that you’ll probably be able to find the perfect program for you if you know where to look.

In order to find some quick online degrees, you can start by looking at ranking publications just like this one and many others available online. Accelerated degree programs come in a variety of scheduling options, areas of study, methods of presentation, and so on. Rankings are a great way to get a feel for what is out there.

Another option that you have is to contact a specific school that you have some interest in and ask them if they have any options that suit what you’re looking for. Advisors are there to help you and universities want to see you meet your goals. It never hurts to ask!

We want to remind you in your research efforts that you should never compromise academic quality for the sake of speed. A college education is something that you want to get right the first time whenever possible. Make sure that the schools you are considering are accredited by an organization recognized by the Department of Education. Look at the statistics that serve as indicators of institutional quality, like freshman retention, graduation rate, financial aid rate, etc. Niche.com is a great resource to see how students feel about a school instead of what an institution presents about itself. Don’t be afraid to dig and ask questions!

When a program stands out to you, look at the format and make sure it is something you can fit into your lifestyle, and consider how you’ll pay for college. Be sure to cover all your bases. Good luck!

How Long Is an Accelerated Bachelor’s Program?

If we’re being honest, this is a reasonably impossible question to answer because there are so many factors that ultimately affect the time it will take you to complete an accelerated degree program. There are some that can be completed in as little as 12 or 18 months, and some stretch out to as much as two or three years. It all depends.

But, what does it depend on? First of all, the delivery format. Some schools have faster or more condensed programs and some move at a quicker pace but not at the breakneck speed it would take to finish in a year. The rest of the contributing factors are more individual.

If you have any prior college experience and credits that are eligible for transfer, you could see the time shrink down significantly. Some programs allow you to bring in more than half of the credits that you need as long as they were earned at an accredited institution. You may also see the opportunity to receive credit for work training, military service, or even just relevant life experience.

While each student is going to have a different experience, the majority of accelerated programs range from 18-24 months on average. Be sure to explore all of the options at the school you choose that way you can make the most of what you may have already learned!

Didn’t Find What You Were Looking For?

If you want to check out more degree programs that you can finish quickly, you may be interested in some of our similar rankings:

If you want to check out some of the top online colleges in America, you can read our Top 100 Best Online Colleges. If you still aren’t sure if online learning is right for you, exploring the Pros and Cons of Online College might help.

Still have questions about getting a BA degree or another type of degree online? We have included more information for you, such as How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?, in our extensive library of online college FAQs.