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

It’s a common misconception that bachelor’s degrees always take four years to complete. Four years is the traditional amount of time many students take to earn a bachelor’s degree, but it’s not the case for all learners. Each learner has a different educational background, time restrictions, and responsibilities, meaning the time it takes to finish a bachelor’s degree program varies. Read this guide to learn the answer to the question, “How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?”

What Are the Different Bachelor’s Degree Options?

There are two main bachelor’s degree options available to you: 

  • Full-time degree
  • Part-time degree 

Students who enroll in a full-time bachelor’s degree typically take four or five courses per semester. Each course has a different credit value; 120 is usually the number of credits required to earn a bachelor’s degree in the United States.

 Most students who undertake a full-time program graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years. Some students might defer their studies during their degree program to travel, take on full-time employment, or fulfill family responsibilities. Additionally, schools might limit the time a student can study for their degree to six or seven years.

Students who enroll in a part-time bachelor’s degree might take one, two, or three credits per semester. Learning at this slower pace allows them to balance their studies with employment or family obligations. Many who undertake a part-time program graduate with a bachelor’s degree in five or six years. 

Whether you enroll in a full-time or part-time degree (or any of the alternative degree options listed below), you should understand the requirements of your program. You will typically declare a major in a particular educational discipline, which becomes the focus of your degree program, and complete the majority of your coursework and assignments in this subject. You might also choose a minor in another educational discipline, allowing you to discover a secondary field of study. A lot of students use their minor to complement their major. 

How Long Does It Take to Get an Undergraduate Degree?

Regardless of program length, a bachelor’s degree generally consists of coursework, assignments, and a final thesis or project on a chosen topic. You may also participate in credited internships. Degree requirements will depend on the program and school. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree After an Associate’s Degree?

Community colleges and trade schools are less-costly options for earning a college education, but most only offer certificate and associate’s degree programs. Some students decide to earn their associate’s degree at a community college and then transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at a college or university. This route may allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree in two years after finishing their associate’s degree. If studying part-time, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in four years after completing their associate’s degree.

Sometimes, transitioning from an associate’s to a bachelor’s degree can be problematic. If a student’s credits do not transfer to their new college, they might find themselves repeating classes they took during their associate’s degree program. Many colleges recognize this problem and offer associate’s to bachelor’s programs that allow for an easier college transfer process.

Students who have yet to earn an associate’s degree and study full-time will still earn a bachelor’s degree in four years if they decide to continue their studies. However, they can save thousands—if not tens of thousands—of dollars by completing their associate’s degree at a community college or trade school.

How Long Does a Bachelor’s Degree Take? Online and Accelerated Degrees

Students who don’t have much free time on their hands can enroll in an online degree program. Many online students attend school part-time and can work at their own pace. These degrees carry as much clout as traditional degrees and have become increasingly popular in recent years. Most employers look favorably on these programs, as they show students possess the impetus to work independently and juggle other responsibilities. Research shows that half of all college students now take online courses [1].

Online bachelor’s degree programs usually take between three and five years, depending on how much time students devote to their studies. The required courses are similar to those of a campus-based program, but students complete them mostly or entirely online. They submit assignments and coursework via a learning management system (LMS) and engage with tutors, faculty, and other students via webinars, digital workshops, and chat rooms.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the four best online colleges are Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide, University of Florida, Medical University of South Carolina, and University of Chicago—Illinois.

Another alternative to a traditional bachelor’s program is an accelerated program. Those in a hurry to earn their degree can study at a faster pace and graduate quicker. Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs offer non-stop schooling, allowing students to complete their studies in three years or less. 

This type of program is not for everybody. Learners need to study full-time classes year-round for at least two years. However, the money saved in lost wages and tuition (because students are only in school for two years) can make this type of intense focus a worthwhile investment.

You will need to consider your lifestyle, available time, and current responsibilities when choosing either an online or accelerated bachelor’s degree.


There are several answers to the question, “How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?” That’s because the time it takes to graduate depends on whether you will study for your degree full- or part-time, enroll in an online program, undertake an accelerated program, or transition from an associate’s to a bachelor’s degree. While many people believe it takes four years to finish a bachelor’s program, the true length of time depends on the type of degree program you enroll in. 

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