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How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online? Top Facts


Earning your bachelor’s degree can open up the door to many career opportunities and possibilities that would otherwise go unrecognized. If you’re wondering “how long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?” then you’ve come to the right place to dive into all the details. For those who want to earn their degree online, bachelor’s degree years will vary based on certain factors.

Although the price of a college education continues to increase, there are alternative ways to earn your bachelor’s degree through options like online universities. With accredited distance learning institutions, you can take college courses from wherever you are to earn credits toward your bachelor’s degree.

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

In most cases, a bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts) takes four years to complete. How many credits for a bachelor’s degree? It usually equates to about 120 credits or about 40 college classes. Bachelor’s degrees include liberal arts education with a further specialization in your field of study and will provide you with an undergraduate degree upon graduation.

With a bachelor’s degree, you can enter the workforce and begin with entry-level jobs in the field of your choice. Then, you have the opportunity to continue to learn by earning your master’s or PhD degrees. However, a bachelor’s degree is often the main starting point to qualify you for many well-paying and rewarding careers.

Most people choose to major in the field that they want to work in or in a subject that is necessary to continue their education. For example, those intending to go to medical school will major in biology or biochemistry, or another related subject.

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How Long Does a Bachelor’s Degree Take? Factors to Consider

You may be wondering: how many years is a bachelor’s degree? A bachelor’s degree generally takes about four years to complete, but several factors can affect this timeline. If you’ve already started to take college courses or even taken Advanced Placement (AP) units during high school, your college of choice may recognize these units towards your degree at their institution. This is always worth checking because it will save you both time and money.

Here are a few things to consider when figuring out how long is a bachelor’s degree to complete:

Do you currently have…

  • Prior college credits: Many universities and online institutions, like University of the People, will transfer prior college credits earned from a different institution that will count towards your degree.
  • An associate’s degree: An associate’s degree is a degree that is generally earned before a bachelor’s degree as it takes half the time. If you have an associate’s degree and want to continue learning within the same field, these classes can count towards your major.

Transferring previous college credits can help you earn your degree faster.

Program Duration and Enrollment Status

Depending on your schedule, there is flexibility for how much you want to study per term. Enrollment statuses can vary and are generally defined as follows:

  • Full time: 12 semester units per term
    • The definition of “full time” will vary based on institution, but it is generally regarded as the most extensive amount of classes to take per term. This means that you will graduate as quickly as possible by fulfilling the course units.
  • Three-quarter time: 9-11 credit hours per semester
  • Part time: 6-8 credit hours per semester
    • For students with other responsibilities, such as work or family obligations, part-time status may be preferred. Taking less than the full course load per semester may mean graduating in more time, but it will also offer the flexibility and time to balance both school and other aspects of life.
  • Less than half time: 1-5 credit hours per semester

On the other hand, some institutions may offer Accelerated Programs, which is designed to be completed in less time than a traditional four-year program. These programs are geared towards those in the workforce and demand a rigorous and intensive school load.

Benefits of Online Versus Traditional College

Of course, attending an on-campus university or an online university is a matter of preference and accessibility. Those who choose online universities over on-campus benefit in many ways, including:

  • Flexibility: The ability to study whenever and wherever they choose. For example, at University of the People, all courses and materials exist online, so students can log on and learn whenever they please.
  • Accessibility: Some countries and people don’t have access to universities. For this reason, online institutions are democratizing education to allow for accessibility to people around the world.
  • Cost: More often than not, online universities cost less than their traditional counterparts because they inherently have less overhead costs.
  • Barriers to Entry: Online institutions are more open regarding the application process. Many schools won’t require the traditional standardized tests and letters of recommendation that a traditional school may require.

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About UoPeople’s Bachelor’s Programs

University of the People is a US accredited, online university that offers bachelor’s degrees in three disciplines, namely:

Depending on if you enroll full-time or part-time, you can complete your bachelor’s degree in as little as 4 years.

The mission of UoPeople is to offer quality, affordable and accessible education to everyone around the world because we believe that education is a fundamental human right. For this reason, all programs are tuition-free. Rather, there are only course assessment fees and a one-time application fee. With the ability to transfer credits earned at other institutions, UoPeople hopes to help people around the world earn their bachelor’s degree in as little time as possible. UoPeople also provides you with the freedom to take whatever time you need to earn your degree depending on your schedule!

The Bottom Line

Having a bachelor’s degree will expand career opportunities and teach you with skills that are not only useful for jobs but are also transferable to life. From time management to communication skills and more, a bachelor’s degree will help you grow both personally and professionally.

Depending on your situation, a bachelor’s degree generally takes four years to complete, but it can take longer or shorter based on your enrollment status. Once you have earned your bachelor’s degree in the field of your choice, you can then choose between entering the workforce or continuing to pursue higher education by enrolling in a master’s or PhD degree program to become even more of an expert within your chosen field.