How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is necessary for most professional jobs these days. How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree? Read on to find out.

TCM Staff

9th January 2022

Many industries now require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum qualification for professional positions, with some even requiring further education, like a master’s degree. The US population is catching on, with 36% of US adults holding a bachelor’s degree, according to the US Census

But how long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree? How many semesters is a bachelor’s degree? We’ll cover everything you need to know about the time required to obtain your bachelor’s degree!


Table of Contents

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor's degree, or undergraduate degree, is the successful completion of a four-year undergraduate program at an accredited university. Most bachelor’s degrees entail four years of study and 120 credits. How many hours for a bachelor’s degree? Most programs entail a solid 10-15 hours of classes with the remainder of a full-time schedule spent on studying and assignments. 

Types of Bachelor's Degrees

You might not be science-inclined and prefer history and writing. You might not even enjoy the humanities much and prefer hands-on artistic pursuits. Usually, there’s a bachelor’s degree for everyone. 

There are three types of bachelor’s degrees for you to choose from, and among those, countless majors.

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

A Bachelor of Arts is usually a specialist or major in a subject related to liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences. BAs are often filled with courses that require critical thinking and heavy essay writing. Common majors for a BA include English literature, music, art, linguistics, communications, philosophy, sociology, and more. 

Bachelor of Science (BSc) 

A Bachelor of Science teaches you more about technical skills and knowledge in a scientific niche. Some examples of science majors include computer science, nursing, biology, certain psychology programs, chemistry, physics, and more. You might also find some business-related degrees as BScs, like accounting and economics. Some engineering-related studies might offer a Bachelor of Science, but those are sometimes linked to a specific Bachelor of Engineering instead. 

Learn more about the difference between BA and BS degrees.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

A Bachelor of Fine Arts is more hands-on studies in a particular field of art. These degrees usually imply a degree of creativity. For example, an English literature degree would be a BA but a creative writing degree might be a BFA. Other common BFA specialties include music, painting, sculpting, dancing, and acting.

Read more about the difference between BA and BFA degrees.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

Specifically, how many years is a bachelor degree? The standard completion time for a bachelor’s degree is four years, though some people take as long as ten, and some take as little as two!

Think of it this way: most bachelor’s degrees require you to complete 120 credits. If you split this evenly between four years, that works out to 30 credits per year. But each student has a different educational scenario. Some students can take on more than that allotment each year (or less) for various reasons. 

Most schools offer summer school, where students might try to get ahead on their course credits to accelerate their degree completion. Additionally, some students may only have the capacity to study part-time or take a year off mid-degree. 

Curious about ways to shorten the length of your bachelor’s degree? Check out the next section. 

How to Accelerate a Bachelor’s Degree

How long is a bachelor’s degree? That depends on many factors, like your work capacity, program requirements, institution scheduling, credit transfer eligibility, and more. 

Plan For It

If you want to accelerate your bachelor’s degree, start planning early. Be honest about your capacity each semester to create a realistic timeline. Plan your summers ahead of time so you can sign up for extra courses. And, manage your time effectively to ensure you don’t crack under the pressure of a heightened workload. 

Explore Credit Transfers

Did you complete another degree program or take some courses at another college? Check to see if the institution you’re currently attending accepts credit transfers from your experience. AP and CLEP credits are also a good way to get ahead of schedule in your first year. 

Consider Online Degree Programs

These days, there are countless online bachelor degree programs for you to choose from. Many students report saving money and time through online programs because they aren’t spending as much time commuting to and from school. However, the tuition fees for online degree programs tend to be the same.  

Online degree time schedules are usually comparable to in-person programs. And don’t underestimate the work! Online doesn’t mean easy. However, the extra time in your day from not commuting might help you cut down your bachelor’s degree years. If you take an online program, perhaps you could use the extra hour or so in your day to take on another course! 

Avoid Changing Your Major

One of the biggest reasons why students take longer to complete their bachelor’s degrees is because they change their majors. We understand – it’s hard to know exactly what you want to do right after high school. However, changing your major is a sure way to delay your degree and incur you more costs. If you must change your major, think long and hard about the consequences. If you’re uncertain about which degree program to enroll in, consider taking a general program so that you can specialize more as you complete your degree. 

Look Into Accelerated Programs

Can I get a bachelor’s degree in two years? With certain accelerated degree programs, you can. 

Some universities offer accelerated programs dedicated to a quicker graduation. These programs might involve heavier workloads for a three-year bachelor’s degree, or heavier workloads for a four- or five-year combination degree. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can I Get a Bachelor’s in 2 years?

Yes, but you’ll have to work hard for it! Hypothetically, you could finish in two years if you take on the maximum course load that your college allows, as well as a course or two in the summer every year. Ideally, you’d want to have a couple of transfer credits either from a previous college or from an AP or CLEP high school credit as well. 

Moreover, there are accelerated bachelor degree programs that are designed specifically to help you finish your degree within 2 years. 

    2. Can You Finish a 4-Year Degree in 3 Years?

Certainly. The average bachelor’s degree requires completion of 120 credits — that evens out to 40 credits per year if you would like to finish in four years.  If a student could take on 40 credits per year instead of 30, they could obtain the degree within 3 years instead of four. Of course, a student may complete the 120 credits within three years on a different schedule as well.  

Final Thoughts

How long does it take to obtain a bachelor's degree? Usually, a bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. But, some students take as long as ten years because of other obligations or switching their major. Some students take as little as two years by planning strategically or taking accelerated programs. 

How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree? The truth is, you have a lot of control over the length of your bachelor’s degree! Planning ahead, taking more courses each semester, using credit transfers, and sticking to a consistent major are a few ways you might shorten your bachelor’s degree years. 

If you want to learn more about options for online bachelor’s degree, check out our list of the best online degree programs!

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