Accelerated degree programs offer students the chance to complete post-secondary degrees in a short amount of time. Accelerated degree programs provide students with the tools they need to quickly complete an associate’s degree and enter the workforce, or enter a bachelor’s degree program. Colleges offer these quicker pace degrees at all levels. Many are available online. This format can also save you money on tuition and allow you to learn in a self-paced manner.
Accelerated courses take the content covered in a 15-week 3 or 4-credit course and condense it into a shorter timeframe, sometimes letting you complete the workload of two semesters in the 15-week block. Accelerated courses are generally between five and eight weeks long depending on the material density of each subject.
The typical degree at this level takes two years. An accelerated program reduces this period depending on the number of courses you enroll in per semester. At many liberal arts-based universities, students are generally required to complete a specific number of general education courses such as English composition and introductory psychology. The bulk of the curriculum, however, consists of core courses that relate to the specific academic major in question.
Programs at this level provide students with basic skills and some foundational knowledge. Coursework includes roughly 60 credits of coursework in law, crime theory, and psychology. Skills on how to analyze crime data, predict patterns of criminal behavior, create criminal profiles, and establish agency protocols and procedures designed to improve agency response to crime. Some programs follow a 6-week or 10-week calendar.
Earning a bachelor’s degree typically requires four years of undergraduate study. Most programs will require students to complete around 120 credits of coursework, which consists of both general education subjects and criminal justice topics. Classes will likely cover law, ethics, criminology, corrections, security, and police administration. Students who have already earned associates degrees may be able to transfer the credits they earned in their previous degree programs, allowing them to earn bachelor’s degrees with two additional years of coursework.
You will find most accelerated programs at this level offered online. Another feature offered online is multiple start dates, such as every 8 weeks. This format along with three semesters offered year round allows students the ability to graduate faster. Receiving credit for what you already know is another attraction of some accelerated undergraduate programs. Such a format offers a series of exams to test your knowledge of key course objectives.
- Colorado Technical University: Fast-Track-graduate 30% earlier
A self-paced learning format speeds up the time it takes to complete your degree. Self-paced means that you set your own deadlines and you may take up to two courses each quarter. Depending on your knowledge of a subject, you may move faster through what you know. Conversely, you may require more time on those subjects you find more challenging. Once you have successfully demonstrated your mastery of a particular course, you can move on to your next one.
- Capella University: FlexPath format: 12-24 months
A year-round format is another way to accelerate your bachelor’s degree. As a student, you immerse yourself in two classes at a time every five weeks and earn credits before moving on to the next courses. This fast-paced schedule means shorter time to graduation and savings on tuition.
- East Coast Polytechnic Institute: 2.5 years
Eligibility for a graduate degree doesn’t require a Bachelor’s degree in this discipline. It does require proof of an undergraduate degree with stipulations. For example, your transcript must reflect a cumulative 3.0 or higher GPA. Once accepted into a master’s program, you can complete it within a few as 12 months. For online students, this will vary depending on the hours you devote weekly to the coursework.
- University of the Cumberlands: 12 months
- Missouri State University: 12-18 months
- Angelo State University: 18 months
There is an opportunity for qualified undergraduate criminal justice students to work concurrently toward the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and the Master of Criminal Justice. Graduate credit hours earned while enrolled in the BA/MCJ program can apply to both degrees, allowing students to complete the MCJ degree on an accelerated time frame. The BA/MCJ allows students to count nine semester credit hours toward both the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Master of Criminal Justice programs.
Example: The Criminal Justice BA requires 42 semester hours: 21 hours in the Criminal Justice core and 21 hours of upper-division criminal justice coursework. The Master of Science in CJ ()MSCJ) requires 33 semester hours, including a minimum of 24 hours in criminal justice courses. The accelerated program allows students to count up to 12 credit hours of graduate criminal justice coursework toward both the BA and MSCJ. The 12 hours of graduate criminal justice coursework will substitute for 12 of the 21 hours of upper-division criminal justice elective coursework in the BA.
Any of the combined bachelors to masters programs will have guidelines for applicants. These may require that students must complete at least 60 undergraduate credits prior to applying, of which you must earn at least 30 credits at your respective school. As well as a maximum of graduate credits may count toward the undergraduate degree. For example, the allowance could be up to 15 credits.