More than at any other time in history, people of all ages are heading to college to earn a bachelor’s degree.

But just how long does it take someone to earn this degree?

Typically speaking, it takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. Having said that, some students graduate ahead of this timeframe, while others may take five years.

These differing time frames are based on several factors, and we’ll get into some of those factors in just a bit.

If you want to know how you can earn your bachelor’s degree in the shortest amount of time possible, be sure to read this entire article because I am going to share X ways you can save time – and in many cases money – toward your degree!

Is it Worth it to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

There are many reasons why someone would want to consider earning a bachelor’s degree.

Here are just some of them:

Higher Earning Potential

One of the best ways you can advance your career and start earning more for your family is by deepening your knowledge and skill set. Employees with a bachelor’s degree typically earn more.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those with a bachelor’s degree (this is across multiple industries) earned a median salary of $78,020 in 2020 compared to those with only a high school diploma, who earned only $39,070.

A More Flexible Career Path

Holding a bachelor’s degree opens up new possibilities. And those without this degree are missing out on the chance to widen their career path.

As an example, a study conducted by Georgetown University found that 65% of all jobs in this country now require a college degree.

Here are just some of the careers, according to the BLS, that tend to require bachelor’s degrees to even get your foot in the door:

  • Civil engineer
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Financial analyst
  • Graphic designer
  • Human resource specialist
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Public relations specialist
  • Social worker

Job Security

It seems we never know what the economy will do from one day to the next. One day someone has a job, and the next day they are being told they are being let go for financial reasons.

The BLS has also reported that earning a bachelor’s degree has been found to lead to lower unemployment. This is because companies tend to want to hold onto those employees that have the most skills and knowledge and offer the most value.

What are the Different Types of Bachelor’s Degrees?

You may have noticed that the term “bachelor’s degree” is usually connected to some kind of acronym that has its meaning.

The following are the most common types of bachelor’s degrees you can earn:

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

This is the most common undergraduate degree. These degrees are usually for humanities, social sciences, languages, and communication studies.

Bachelor of Science (BS)

This is an undergraduate degree, usually in the natural sciences or engineering, that typically combines research with theoretical knowledge.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

This is an undergraduate degree for professional education in visual and performing arts.

The school you are considering may also have programs that award less-common bachelor’s degrees. These include:

  • Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA)
  • Bachelor of Design (BDes)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (BEng)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Architecture (BArch)

Now that you know some of the most common bachelor’s degrees awarded and why it benefits you to earn this degree, let’s dive into timeframes and see just how long it may take you to graduate.

I’ll start with the traditional way of earning your bachelor’s degree…

The Old Way

Traditionally, earning a bachelor’s degree meant going to college for four years as a full-time student. Here are some of the typical requirements of earning a bachelor’s degree the old way:

  1. You were required to complete at least 120 credit hours of general education courses as well as coursework that focused on your major.
  2. You were also required to earn a minimum cumulative GPA (grade point average). Each school establishes this GPA.
  3. Finally, you are required to complete all coursework in a set period. Traditionally this has been seven to eight years, though most students finish coursework within four to five years.

What are Some Things That Add Time To Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree?

So what would cause a person to take more than four years to earn their degree? There are a variety of factors that influence the length of time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Here are two of the most common factors that add time to your degree:

Special Programs

Many schools offer students special programs to pursue higher education in a way that makes sense for their careers. As an example, a school may allow a student to pursue their bachelor’s degree and their master’s degree at the same time.

So you could say, pursue your BS in business while at the same time your MBA in finance or marketing.

While in the long run, this kind of program will cut down on the amount of time you spend in school, because you are getting your education done in one shot, it will generally take longer than four years to complete this type of program.

Changing Majors and Double Majoring

It’s common for a lot of students to begin college focusing on one major, and then change majors halfway through. Understand that doing so may add some time to earning your bachelor’s degree.

If you’re not certain of your major, you may want to work toward getting through your general education requirements and, while doing so, explore potential majors to find the right one for you.

Some students choose to have a double major, as they’ll generally stand out from other candidates come job hunting time as well as have more career options.

Doubling up on your workload can often add time to your graduation schedule. This isn’t always the case. Some students can manage to graduate with two majors in four years.

Having said that, while it’s possible to graduate in 4 years with a double major, it’s not very likely you’ll do so in less time. So if your ultimate goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little time as possible, then a double major may not be ideal.

And speaking of earning a bachelor’s degree in as little time as possible…

The New Way of Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree (In a Far Shorter Time!)

There are plenty of people who want to earn their bachelor’s degree, but they want – or in some cases need – to earn it as quickly as possible.

Many adult students who are looking to advance their careers and start earning more for their families may need to cut the amount of time they are in school.

If this is your goal, here are some creative ways you can shave time off from earning your bachelor’s degree. And as a bonus, when you save time you also typically save money as well!

Prior Credits

Sometimes a student may be able to apply previous credits earned to their current degree program. If you are a recent high school graduate, you may have taken advanced placement (AP) classes in high school.

You can check with your school of choice to see if they will accept these.

If you are an adult student, you may have begun your college journey years ago but never completed your program for financial or family reasons.

Oftentimes these credits can be transferred to your new school. The more credits you have that are transferrable, the more you don’t have to repeat those classes and the more time you save.

Life Credits

If you are an adult student looking to go back to school, understand that you may have already acquired some very valuable life and work experience. Some schools will recognize the value of this life experience and award you credits for it.

So for instance, if you have raised three children and are now looking to go back to school to get a childcare degree, there may be classes you can skip because your real-world experience matches, if not surpasses, the information you’ll learn in a classroom.

Perhaps you have spent the past five years managing the social media accounts of some local businesses. If you were to go back to get a degree in digital marketing, as one example, you may very well be able to get some life experience credits.

Military Training

If you’ve served in the military, or have experience working abroad, understand there are some colleges and universities that will also give you credit for this experience.

In general, if you’ve been out of school and living and working in “the real world”, you may be able to get credits for a variety of life and work experiences you’ve had. Don’t assume anything, always speak with someone at your school and ask.

CLEP Exams

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) allows students to earn college credits for what they already know. These credits are accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities across the country.

By taking the CLEP exam, adult students can demonstrate a mastery of college-level material and earn credits that will shave time off of their degree program. The cost to take this exam is only (at the time of this writing) $85.

Consider how much money (potentially thousands) you could save if you were rewarded with credits for the knowledge you already possess!

Earn FREE Credits Online

Did you know there are ways you can take FREE courses online and then find schools that will give you credits for these courses you have already completed?!

Well, you can find them or you can sign up with because we’ve already built relationships with universities around the country that will give you credit for the free courses you’ve completed.

Not only does this give you the ability to save thousands on your degree, but it also allows you to potentially earn your degree much, much sooner. allows adult learners to take as many FREE online courses as they’d like from the comfort of their own homes.

You can learn about some incredibly exciting topics like marketing, computer programming, psychology, education, and much more from excellent professors around the country.

Final Thoughts

Times have changed. While it is still really important that you earn a bachelor’s degree, as it offers many career and earnings benefits, you don’t have to do it “the old way.”

There are many ways you can earn your degree in a far shorter amount of time.

And, as I mentioned, when you save time you also save money.

And sometimes significant money!

If you’re thinking about going back to school and you like the sound of saving time and money, and you also like the idea of someone making your life a lot easier, then I recommend you sign up with

Signing up is easy (it only takes a couple of minutes), and our platform is 100% FREE for you to use. When you sign up, you’ll have access to schools that will accept the FREE classes you’ve taken.

As a bonus, we have found many schools that offer students major tuition discounts. Grants and scholarships are the “old way” of saving on your tuition bill.

And often a student spends hours applying for these grants and scholarships without ever being rewarded any money. What a complete waste of time!

The “new way” of saving money on the price of tuition is to look for schools that offer tuition discounts. has a mission to make college more affordable for adult students and one of the ways we’ve done this is by organizing numerous discounts at colleges and universities across the country.

Simply put, you could save between 5% to 25% depending on the school you choose. This can equate to a huge amount of savings. And the best part? You don’t have to spend hours applying for these tuition discounts, they are all available to you when you register.

Saving time AND money toward your bachelor’s degree? It just makes sense.

Sign up right now and let us help you make your life – and higher education – easier!

About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.