The same go-getter attitude that will help you excel in the business world can also cause you to feel frustrated at how long it traditionally takes to earn a college degree. Without an education, you can’t get the prestigious, well-paying job you want, but it’s difficult to put your career on hold for so long – especially if you already have work experience or some college under your belt. The good news is that many schools now offer alternatives to conventional degree programs that will allow you to reduce the time it takes to graduate. Because business is a consistently popular field of study, it is among the easiest majors to find in an advanced format. At the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, you have options that could help you arrive in the business world faster.

What Is the Fastest School for a Degree in Business?

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12-Month Business Associate’s Degree Programs

Who says earning a two-year degree actually has to take two years? Some community colleges and junior colleges now offer associate’s degrees in just one year – about half the time it usually would take to get your associate’s degree. Tidewater Community College (TCC) in Norfolk, VA, is just one example of a community college with a 12-month business program.

TCC manages to slash the time it takes to get an associate’s degree by strategically scheduling courses in an accelerated format. Students complete four sessions, each lasting eight weeks, within a calendar year that stretches from mid-August to mid-July. The workload is intense, with students in the accelerated degree cohort completing 61 credits, or 21 classes, within a single year, with only a few days in between sessions in some cases. The program is available in a fully online format or face-to-face at TCC’s four campuses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.

Classes include Introduction to Business, Principles of Macroeconomics, Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Accounting I and II, Introduction to International Business and Probability and Statistics for Business and Economics. Students also complete general education courses and choose electives in the business administration course catalog.

The total cost of TCC’s program for in-state students was a great value, under $11,500, for the 2018-2019 school year. TCC also has transfer agreements with nearly three dozen four-year schools to make earning a bachelor’s degree in business easier.

Degree Completion Programs in Business

An associate’s degree is a great starting point, but most business and finance professionals will need a bachelor’s degree at some point during their professional lives. If you began your college education but took a break somewhere along the way, choosing a degree completion program can help you finish what you started and graduate in much less time and if you were starting from scratch.

Several schools offer degree completion programs in business. How quickly you can earn your degree depends on how many existing college credits you have to transfer and how generous the school’s transfer credit policy is. At Cabrini University in Radnor, PA, students can finish their bachelor’s degrees in as little as 28 months if they transfer the maximum amount of credits, 78. Rasmussen College allows students to transfer 80 credits and graduate in just 12 months if they take the most possible courses per term.

Generally, students who already earned an associate’s degree, or who completed enough credits for an associate’s degree but didn’t fulfill the graduation requirements for any one program of study, see the most benefit from degree completion programs.

Degree completion programs are ideal if you changed your major while pursuing an associate’s degree and ended up taking additional credits or if you earned your credits so long ago that your original school no longer counts them. 

Competency-Based Business Degree Options

Another way to speed up your timeline to graduating with your business degree is by choosing a competency-based program. Unlike traditional degree programs, which measure your readiness to graduate based solely on how many classes you have taken, competency-based programs break down the curriculum into learning outcomes, or competencies, that students must develop. Students with work experience can take tests to prove that they already have that competency, allowing them to skip the courses for which they already know the material. At some schools, the classes you do take are work-at-your-own-pace, self-directed modules that allow motivated students to move through the coursework much more quickly than they would in a traditional 15-week semester – sometimes as fast as two competency sets per month.

Sometimes colleges combine degree-completion programs and competency-based curricula to allow students to reach their educational goals as quickly as possible. The University of Wisconsin is one example. Students with 60 to 80 college credits who choose the UW Flexible Option and complete one to two competencies each month can graduate in as little as 12 months.

Many business professionals with a bachelor’s degree will go on to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree to help them advance their careers. Fortunately, MBA programs come in accelerated formats, too.

Additional Resources

What Is the Fastest School for an MBA?

What Is the Fastest School for a Degree in Finance?

What Is the Fastest School for a Degree in Supply Chain Management?

How Fast Can I Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Online?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Business?