A 4 year degree is required for a good, well paying job nowadays, whereas a 2 year associate degree is good for junior level jobs with a lower salary. So is it possible to get a 4 year degree in 2 years? If yes, what are the requirements for this? Does one need to already have an associate degree to get a bachelors degree in 2 years? Is it possible to get a 4 year degree in 2 years without having an associate degree?
It is very much possible to get a 4 year degree in 2 years. This is especially true for a BA or Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree which does not have any specialized lab or project requirement. If you are okay to write many examinations to earn credits directly, then you can get a 4 year degree even in less than 2 years. One great resource is BAIn4Weeks in which Laurie Miller describes how she got her BA in a matter of weeks by writing standardized exams.
There are other ways to get a 4 year degree in 2 years, one way is if you already have an associate degree, you can transfer those to a four year college and complete your 4 year degree in another 2 years. Or if you don’t have an associate degree but have some work experience and did some college before, that’s yet another way to get a 4 year degree in 2 years.
3 Important Tips
a) Avoid duplicate credits
Many students end up taking multiple college courses with duplicate course curriculum, thereby wasting time and money unnecessarily. Some students are simply confused whereas some of them receive bad advice or guidance and this causes them to take many unwanted courses. Some students even take college courses that meet NONE of their degree requirements.
So before starting any new course, please list out in a worksheet all your previous college courses alongside the degree requirements they satisfy. Keep this credit worksheet updated and refer to it before starting any new college courses. Also refer to this worksheet before starting any new training or work in a similar field.
b) Self-evaluation of Prior credits and Experience
To accurately prepare the credit worksheet mentioned in the previous section, you not only need to consider the course titles but also the entire course curricula of your previous college courses. Also, the college courses need to be from an accredited college or institution and any non-accredited courses or learning will not be counted for college credits.
Work experience will not be directly awarded college credits but there is a way to earn college credits for work experience through a portfolio evaluation
c) Choose fastest degree and major
If your objective is to simply get a 4 year degree in any field in 2 years, then choose a degree and major such as a BA or Liberal Arts degree which has the simplest course requirements for quickly completing your degree.
Alternately, if liberal arts is not your thing, just choose the easiest field/ major that clearly aligns with your experience and interests. Make sure there are no lab or project requirements for that degree major that could potentially delay your graduation.
BA in 4 (or more) Weeks
Credits transfer of your previous college credits is the fastest way to earn college credits for your newly enrolled degree. Apart from that, credits by examination is another quick way to earn college credits, especially in topics that you already have prior knowledge of or things you can easily learn.
These exams are also very affordable. CLEP or DSST exams cost about $80 per test and with text books or practice tests could be another $20 to $50 for a total of about $130.
The site BAIn4Weeks.com by Lawrie Miller goes into how she completed her bachelors degree in a matter of few weeks from an accredited college in the United States.
Saylor Academy offers self-paced online courses free of charge to all students. These courses carry college credits via ACE accreditation and there is an online proctored test at the end of each course for a small fee of about $25. This is yet another great way to earn college credits quickly and for very little in cost.
With Associate Degree
If you already have an associate degree, you can enroll in a 4 year college by transferring the credits from the associate degree. Then you will only need about 60 more credits to complete a bachelors degree for a total of about 120 US college credits.
The advantage of first getting an associate degree is as follows:
a) Having an associate degree will make it possible to get a job sooner.
b) Most community colleges that award 2 year associate degrees are much cheaper than any of the 4 year US colleges.
3) You can still transfer in all your credits from the associate degree to your bachelors degree so as to complete your 4 year college degree in half the time.
With Experience and Some College
Even if you did not complete an associate degree but simply finished few college courses years ago, those course credits can still transfer free of charge for credits into your new bachelors degree.
Take a look at Excelsior college’s credit transfer process by visiting this page.
If you have work experience or completed other training, or even if you took any MOOC courses online (such as Coursera, EdX etc.), a process called Prior Learning Assessment will allow you to translate that learning into college credits. For more information on Excelsior’s Prior Learning Assessment, please visit this page.
Whether you decide to enroll in a 4 year degree at Excelsior or at any other college, you can still complete Excelsior’s Portfolio/ Prior Learning Assessment and have all you learning from college courses, other courses and experience reported in a OneTranscript report. This OneTranscript report from Excelsior college can be used to document and transfer all your learning to a new degree at a 4 year college.
Avoid Excessive Credits
By far, the fastest way to complete a 4 year degree in 2 years is if you plan your college studies in advance such that you take only one course or exam for each of the course credit requirements.
After obtaining a OneTranscript report, and upon enrolling into a 4 year college, you should setup an appointment with your college student counselor to chart out a degree plan for completing all your remaining courses or credit requirements. In my experience, I have found the college student counselors to be quite helpful and they will readily answer all your questions. But it is still up to you to drive the whole process and to stay alert and motivated, and to ensure that you ask them all the right questions about which courses or exams to take to meet the degree requirements.
Be sure to ask your student counselor about which low-cost online courses or CLEP exams can meet the degree requirements. Colleges also have their own online courses but the college’s online courses tend to be at least 5 or 10 times or more expensive than a regular MOOC course or CLEP exam.
By carefully discussing with the student advisor about multiple alternative ways to earn the credits to meet each degree requirement, you can ensure that you do not end up taking multiple courses that result in duplicate credits for the same credit requirement. This is very important as this simple approach can save you months of time and a lot of money which you can more effectively use to complete the rest of your degree requirements quickly.
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