In today’s fast-paced world, where time is of the essence, many young adults and working professionals find themselves looking for ways to earn their graduate degrees quicker to jump-start their careers.
If you’re itching to start your career but want the higher earning potential and career satisfaction a master’s degree affords, an accelerated degree program might be right for you. Accelerated degree programs — sometimes referred to as “3+2” or “4+1” programs to denote the years needed to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree — are designed to condense your completion timeline, all while delivering the same level of academic rigor you’d expect from a traditional master’s degree track.
While earning your degree more quickly may seem like a no-brainer, weighing the pros and cons before choosing a program is crucial. Let’s explore both sides of that equation to help you decide if an accelerated degree program is right for you.
Pros of an Accelerated Degree Program
#1 Time Efficiency:
The primary advantage of an accelerated degree program is that it significantly reduces the time required to earn your degree. Instead of a conventional four-year track, you can complete your undergraduate degree in as little as 2-3 years before going on to finish your master’s degree in another 1-2 years. Most accelerated degree programs take only five years to complete both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The time savings can be especially beneficial if you’re looking to enter the job market more quickly.
#2 Cost Savings:
A program that takes less time to complete will save you on the overall costs of your education. You can save money on tuition and fees, living expenses, and other associated costs by completing your degree in a shorter time frame. This can alleviate the burden of out-of-pocket costs and student loans — not to mention getting you closer to a higher earning potential much sooner than if you were to earn your degree on a traditional track.
#3 Intensive Learning:
Accelerated programs often require a more rigorous course load — which can even include year-round courses with few breaks between classes. If your personal life lends itself to this kind of schedule, the intensity of an accelerated degree program will help you absorb and retain knowledge more quickly while also helping you build up those sought-after soft skills like time management and organization.
So, what’s the pro here?
Graduating from an intensive learning program — especially one that offered comprehensive support services to get you across that graduation stage — will leave you feeling more accomplished and better able to handle the day-to-day stress of your first professional role post-graduation. Many students find that after completing an accelerated degree program, they are better prepared for the rigors of the workforce compared to those leaving a traditional degree program. This is because they’ve learned to manage their time and delegate tasks better — skills that are highly valued in the professional world.
#4 Career Advancement:
While there are many benefits to earning your master’s degree, advancing in your career is perhaps the biggest one. If you’re seeking a professional role where a graduate degree is desired or required, an accelerated degree program will get you on the career track faster than your peers. Earning your degree in fewer years will also help you begin your job search more quickly. More and more industries require a graduate degree — by choosing an accelerated degree program, you can stand out in a competitive job market sooner rather than later.
Cons of an Accelerated Degree Program
Higher education is a commitment.
Depending on your personal and professional goals, there could be a downside to an accelerated degree program. We want you to have all the facts, so let’s cover some potential cons of an accelerated degree program.
#1 Intense Workload:
The flip side to the argument that a rigorous education can be a benefit — the fast pace of an accelerated degree track might be advantageous for some, but it can be overwhelming for others. The condensed schedule often means juggling multiple courses at once, limiting your time to work or be social. The demanding workload can be challenging for some students and is something to consider when weighing your educational options.
#2 Limited Flexibility:
The accelerated nature of these programs often leaves little room for flexibility in terms of either course selection or scheduling. You might have options for choosing a concentration or electives, but your schedule may be slightly more rigid. Today, more and more colleges and universities are offering online courses that provide more flexibility in how and when you get your work done. Every program is different, and you should carefully review your options when designing your future.
#3 Work-Life Balance:
An accelerated program demands significant time and energy outside of your classes. Fast-tracking your degree can lead to a temporary imbalance in your personal life. You might find it difficult to manage a part-time job or internship, and you may struggle to find time for extracurriculars while keeping up with your studies. This imbalance can impact your well-being. Balancing it all is possible, but it’s going to require work. A new schedule and routine comes with a learning curve — be patient, give yourself grace, and communicate with those around you. Your faculty and school staff want you to succeed and are there for you as a valuable resource. Lean into that support whenever you can.
Accelerated degree programs offer an attractive alternative if you want to earn your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in less time. It’s important to weigh all your options and be realistic about your concerns — while these programs offer time and money savings, they also come with unique challenges.
University of Bridgeport has several unique pathways to earn your master’s degree in just five years. Check out our accelerated degree programs to learn more about earning your bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UB!