Are you working in the business trenches or digging yourself into a rut? Need a degree in order to break out? An accelerated online option may be your ticket to a new, more satisfying career.
Aimed at working adults, online business degree programs are built for maximum speed and efficiency. There's no need to quit your day job or move into a dorm. Accelerated online programs meet you where you are: in the middle of a life that includes work, commuting, kids and family.
Many schools offer online classes in a condensed schedule that can net a bachelor's degree in as little as 18 to 24 months. Do something right now that your future self will thank you for. Check out your degree options:
When it comes to classes, online schools make the most of your time. Forget the 16-week semester system. Whether you're studying marketing or HR, your online business class will probably run just five to 10 weeks. By sprinting through your coursework in short, intense bursts, you can cross the finish line to a bachelor’s degree in record time.
But the fast track is not a shortcut. Expect a heavy workload. You'll be taking on the same requirements as in a traditional class, but in a compressed timeframe. The homework can be formidable. Some online students tally as many as two hours a day, toiling over class assignments and projects.
Accelerated online classes demand little in the way of in-class or commuting time. Instead, you'll spend those hours working on your school assignments. Pull out the books after the kids go to bed, or before the house wakes up on the weekends. Grab some time over lunch, take 20 minutes during the soccer game, or log on while you're waiting in the car to chauffeur the kids. Online learning means you can chip away at class projects and assignments at whatever time suits you best.
Already have a solid grasp of marketing concepts, but need more time to master accounting? A self-paced course might be right for you. A few accelerated business degree programs offer this learning format, in which you move at variable speed through course materials. Once you have a handle on a subject, demonstrate your mastery and jump ahead to the finish line. Is the topic tougher than you thought? Slow down and fully absorb it.
In the world of online degrees, there's no such thing as "back-to-school season." Many accelerated online business programs offer year-round, rolling start dates. There's no need to wait to sign up for a special class that only comes around once in a blue moon. Sign up for the classes you need, at the time that works best for you—whether it's in the middle of summer or the end of May.
Did you start on the path to a degree but wandered off track? You might not need to retrace your steps from the beginning. Many accelerated online programs offer more flexible credit transfer options than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. As you look into different school options, be sure to inquire if your existing credits will transfer.
Looking for a school option that's easier on your wallet? The online option may be your best bet. A virtual class averages one-third the cost of an on-campus offering, according to a 2015 study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. One likely reason: With no need for a physical campus, online schools can pass the savings on to students.
Besides tuition, you'll be responsible for other items such as textbooks (often available online) and any school fees, such as tech support charges. Ask the school in advance about all the costs of a degree.
To be eligible for federal loans and grants, be sure to choose an accredited school. Only the schools that have receive an outside stamp of approval can offer access to these financial resources.
Types of Accelerated Online Business Degrees
There are several accelerated business degree online programs available for continuing education or first time degree-seeking students. Here are some of the most popular:
- Finance—Essential to every business, finance graduates are in high demand. In an accelerated program, you will study both theory and practice of finance, international finance systems, tax law, business structures and financial operations. These programs can be completed in less than four years, and allow you to transfer up to two years of credits toward your degree.
- eBusiness—This emerging field offers programs that blend business, computer studies and e-commerce practices essential in today's business climate. Many of these programs offer accelerated business degree online programs and can be completed in 12 to 24 months.
- Business Information Systems—Accelerated online programs in this field can often be completed in two years and will include studies in company-wide information and computer systems and strategies, text and data mining, data analysis and retrieval techniques and more.
- Accounting – This credential is in high demand by employers, according to a 2015 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. If you already have some college credit under your belt, dive right into an accelerated accounting degree program. You'll study the finer points of business law, auditing, information systems, and the principles of accounting.
- Human Resources—Areas of study in an accelerated online human resources program include recruitment and selection, compensation and benefits, training, performance evaluation, retention and turnover. These programs generally accept transfer credits and can be completed in half the time of a regular 4-year program.
- Marketing—An accelerated online marketing program is a great option for this field, and can be completed in 12 to 24 months. You will study market research theory and techniques, customer motivation, global marketing, Internet business and marketing, customer retention and more.
- Graduate Programs—Accelerated online business degree programs are ideal for the working professional who wants to complete an MBA or other graduate business degree in 12 to 18 months. For these programs, you will study advanced business administration, systems management, Internet marketing, organizational theory, international business practices and more.
Once you've chosen a course of study, get ready to hit the ground running. An accelerated online degree program, with its amped-up pace and hard-driving deadlines, is no stroll in the park.
Before you commit to the challenge, ask yourself why you're really taking it on. Whether you're choosing school to revive a career or inspire your kids, create a reminder that keeps your vision front and center. Try a new screensaver. Post a picture on the fridge. Stick a Post-it on your bathroom mirror. The more often you and your family can see that reminder, the more likely you are to sail through the stressful times.
Do you have the skills and determination that translate to success in the online learning environment? You'll need plenty of the following:
- Time management skills
- The ability to work independently
- Focus and clear goals
Even better: Once you've nabbed that degree, these are the very skills you'll showcase during interviews with potential employers.
Ready to learn at the speed of business? With their convenient schedules, rolling start dates and practical focus, accelerated degree programs are reinventing school for the 21st century. An online business degree may be the only thing standing between you and a great new career.
You don't have to see the entire staircase. Just take the first step. Make a move toward the career that's calling you.