A finance degree can prepare you for some lucrative and in-demand career paths, but earning that degree takes time. One way to get started in your career faster is to speed up your timeline to graduation. Accelerated finance degree options, offered at colleges nationwide, can help you make the most of your time.
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Finance at the Community College Level
Generally, the quickest degree you can earn is the associate’s degree. Most associate’s degree programs require two years of full-time study at a junior college or community college. At the associate’s degree level, you are more likely to find Associate of Business Administration (ABA) degree programs with a specialization in finance than standalone finance degree programs.
Choosing an accelerated associate’s degree program can save you months, and in some cases up to an entire year, of waiting to graduate. The accelerated business degree program at the Community College of Philadelphia, for example, allows full-time students to complete their associate’s degree in just 21 months. Students accomplish this feat through courses offered in online and hybrid format, weekend on-campus course schedules and alternative term schedules that last four weeks (for one course) or seven weeks (for two courses).
Bossier Parish Community College, part of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, offers a program that can be completed in only 12 months. Each class is offered in an accelerated online format, covering the same material usually explored in a 16-week class in a condensed term of just four or eight weeks.
Many accelerated college degree programs include online studies, either in lieu of traditional face-to-face courses or in addition to them. Online learning allows for more flexibility and self-directed study, but it also requires discipline and self-motivation.
Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Just 18 Months
Bachelor’s degrees are often referred to as “four-year” degrees, but this label is misleading. Many college students take more than four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, especially if they change their program of study somewhere along the way. However, it’s possible to earn a bachelor’s degree in much less time.
Of course, there’s a catch. Many accelerated bachelor’s degree programs that offer exceptionally fast graduation timelines rely on more than year-round terms and intensive workloads. For example, the finance bachelor’s degree at Rasmussen College can be completed in just 18 months – but only if students have considerable prior college credits to transfer and take advantage of pay-per-test Self-Directed Assessments to test out of courses for which they already know the materials.
Students with previous college studies and extensive work experience benefit more from degree completion and competency-based programs like Rasmussen’s than new students fresh out of high school do.
Accelerated Dual Degree Programs
It isn’t only how long you’re in school that matters, but also what you get out of the time you invest in your education. Aspiring financial specialists who are already planning on graduate school should consider a dual degree program, sometimes called “4+1” program, that combines undergraduate and graduate studies. Dual degree programs let students earn their degrees faster, often at less cost, usually by taking some graduate coursework during their undergraduate studies and counting those credits toward both degrees. The amount of graduate credits available during students’ undergraduate years varies from school to school, with some colleges restricting seniors to no more than six credits and other colleges allowing them to take as many as nine or even 12 graduate credits. Some dual degree programs also afford students other benefits, like waiving standardize testing requirements.
For example, the Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics at the University of Delaware offers a 4+1 program that includes workshops and practice modules along with conventional classroom learning. The University of Arizona’s dual degree program awards a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in Finance degree and a 36-credit Master of Science (MS) in Finance degree. The MS in Finance program has been recognized as a CFA Institute University Recognition Program, which means that it aligns with standards set by the same credentialing body that offers the CFA certification exams.
If you didn’t get the chance to be part of an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s dual degree program, you can still earn your graduate degree quickly. Many Master of Finance programs are designed to be completed in a year, according to U.S. News & World Report.