How Long Does It Take To Get A Bachelor’s Degree? – No, 4 Years Is Not The Answer

Are you a freshman who is scratching your 4-year-graduation college plan? 

Or are you a sophomore who is struggling to afford the last 2 years of college? 

Or maybe an adult who is hesitant to attend college because it is gonna cost you lots of time and money? 

No matter who you are now, first thing first, don’t give up college dreams just because you think it takes at least 4 years and a massive tuition fee to get a bachelor’s degree. 

There are lots of alternatives to afford college within time and financial limits that can wow you. If you want to know, scroll down, and be patient! It is gonna be a long read, but you will learn more than just ‘How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?

What Is A Bachelor’s Degree?

You might think this question is redundant!

Of course, it is the certification you get for graduating from a higher educational institution that you attend after high school.

However, it is just a vague and shallow way to define a bachelor’s degree. That is why many people attend college without understanding the reason why.

First, A bachelor’s degree is the qualification that serves as a piece of evidence for your completion of the complete higher education program at an academic institution.

The two most common bachelor’s degrees are Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), or Bachelor of medicine (MB).

They are designed to give you an in-depth understanding of a subject and develop your transferable skills such as intellectual, analytical skills. 

But to be more specific, here is what you get from different types of Bachelor degrees: 

Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA)

A Bachelor of Arts covers the humanities, social sciences studies, and liberal arts fields.

Its program provides students with a wide-ranging education. Students don’t have to take lots of credits related to one specific major. Instead, after completing certain courses, they get to choose a major from their favorite academic areas, for example, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and fine arts. 

Bachelor of Science Degree (BS)

A Bachelor of Science covers STEM topics, including math, science, and technology.

Programs designed for a Bachelor of Science degree are usually more strictly focused on their subject matter. Students are required to earn more credits that are directly associated with their chosen major. 

They have to invest their academic energies in learning the technical and practical facets of their field. Therefore, many students are too busy to explore subjects outside of their major.

Hey seniors, what do you know about Date Conferred Or Expected? 

How Long Does It Take To Get A Bachelor’s Degree?

Traditionally, students must complete roughly 120-semester credits, which takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree. 

However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 41% of first-time university students in the USA earn a bachelor’s degree in four years of full-time study. 

That is to say, 4 Years is not the ultimate and practical answer for how long it takes to get a bachelor’s degree for at least 59% of people. 

The best way to answer that question, we would say It really depends. 

How Long Does It Take To Get A Bachelor's Degree? - No, 4 Years Is Not The Answer
Your situations decide your graduation time. Source: Pexel 

Depends On The Country That You Are Studying 

U.S. universities prefer to introduce students to various areas, while most European universities offer in-depth knowledge in a specific study area.

Markus Mandl, chief marketing officer at Hult International Business School, once said: “Students who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Europe can typically complete their degree in a very specific subject in three years, whereas a US degree is completed over the course of four years and offers a bit more flexibility.” 

Depends On The Program 

A big part of why it is hard to tell how long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree is that students can take different studying programs to earn their degrees. The amount of time can vary depending on the program they choose: 

Four years: A traditional bachelor’s degree at an accredited institution in the US is designed to be accomplished within four years. You will then receive an unofficial transcript before getting your hands on a proper degree to join the job market.

 12-18 months: If students take the online programs, they can save lots of time. 

< three years: In case you go for an accelerated degree program, you can cut down higher education time by at least one year and earn a bachelor’s degree in a maximum of three years. However, the workload is massive, and you might have to give up other hobbies to complete the time race. 

Depends On Your Personal Choices/Situations 

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 25% of students in the US drop out after four years, mostly due to financial difficulties, failure to take the right courses, or desire to have more playing time. Let’s dive into details: 

Depends On Your Personal Choices/Situations
How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree? Source: Ekrulila

Working Overtime

Robert Kelchen, a professor of higher education at Seton Hall said that approximately 40% of undergraduate students work more than 30 hours/week due to debt worries. They try to work more and then reduce their course load. However, by working instead of studying, they will have difficulty in graduating on time.

12 Credit Hours Is A Huge Fallacy

In most colleges,  a full course load is 12 credits/semester. However, degrees normally require 120 credits. Just do the math! You need to earn 15 credits/ semester on average to complete everything within four years.

Transferring Colleges

The answer to ”How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?” can rely on transferring credits from a community college or another university. 

According to Newyork Times, 1/3 of students transfer at one point in their college careers. Nearly 40% of them get no credit for their courses and lose 27 credits on average — or about a year of school. 

A piece of wise advice from Maria Campanella, Stony Brook University of the State University of New York, is that students should not just look at how many credits will transfer and make their decisions. Instead, consider how many will apply to your degree. 

Difficulty In Choosing The Right Major 

There are so many cool courses offered within one program that overwhelm students. For example, “Humanities in The Digital Age”. 

However, if you go sidetracked and learn other unrelated subjects, for example, Computer Sciences major, you may not finish or at least get all the required credits. 

The problem is doubled if a prerequisite is offered only in the fall. You might end up waiting one more year to register. 

To avoid this incident, colleges often advise students to declare majors earlier or at least choose their fields of interest to finish within 4 years. 


These days students can get distracted easily by technology, social media, or family responsibility; therefore have less time to focus on the academic workload. As college students have a lot on their plate, not putting enough effort into completing the credits is a huge obstacle toward graduation on time. 

How To Earn Your Degree Faster? 

Now you might see that there is no ultimate answer to the question, ”How long does it take to get a bachelor degree?”. It is really based on your situation: academic capacity, time, budget, plans, and changes in decisions. 

However, if you seriously want to reduce your time at college, here are a few tips we recommend: 

Plan Ahead 

Knowing what you want is the priority when scratching your plan. It might be helpful to ask yourself these questions: 

  • What are my goals and options?
  • Why do I want to graduate in X time? 
  • What have I got so far? Have I got any credits to transfer?

As you try to figure out your goals, don’t forget to research the minimum graduation time of each particular major. For example, you can search on the Web or ask experienced people ”how long does it take to get an engineering degree?”

After that, you should do simple math: 

There are at least 120 credits required to complete a degree. If the average course is three credits, then take 30 credits/ year within 4 years.

If you can take almost 40 credits/year, it breaks down into three years and so on.

The more credits earned each year, the less time it takes to complete the bachelor’s degree and vice versa. 

For better planning, you should talk to the school admission and academic advising teams. Also, sharing this plan with your family and friends can motivate you to keep moving forward.

How To Earn Your Degree Faster?
How to earn your degree faster? Source: Pexel 

Earn College Credits While Still In High School

Do you know that it might take five years to be able to schedule your requisite classes? If you attend an underfunded state university?

That’s why students are recommended to take college credits in high school. They can learn advanced material and help you save time in college. 

Consider attending early college high schools. They allow you to get two years out of the way. 

Or you can take AP classes, IB diplomas equivalent to certain college credits. There are dual-credit college classes that give both high school and college credit.

Again if you are thinking about earning college credit while still in high school, talk to your academic advisor and your favorite college admissions team. These people will help you figure out how to wisely invest your money and time on college credits.

Don’t Forget The Online Education 

It is unavoidable to have scheduling problems due to overlapping classes. If the courses you want to take place simultaneously, you cannot take both in person.

However, the good news is you can still take the courses and save up your time by 30% when utilizing the online program. No driving in heavy traffic, and yet even more time to take other courses.

Especially, some programs allow you to start and stop at your own pace. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) or University of People are well-known for their online program.

In SNHU, students can pursue their bachelor’s degree online with only one or two courses per term. With six 8-week terms throughout the year, you can complete as many as 12 courses annually.

Apply Flexible Schedules

Nowadays, many students cannot follow the traditional college schedules as they also spend time on work, internships, and family. 

Aware of this fact,  many colleges and universities offer flexible scheduling, online programs, working with summer semesters, and even evening or weekend classes to allow students to attend classes when they can. 

This allows them to continue their education no matter what changes affect their life situations.

Go For The  Accelerated Degree Program

Hardcore students! This is your chance to show off your ability. Accelerated degree programs consolidate the traditional coursework for a particular bachelor’s degree into a shorter time frame. 

Of course, the coursework is extremely intense because the quality of the education and its contents are secured. Therefore, you have to work really hard and be focused. You might sacrifice lots of leisure time to complete the race. 

Go For The  Accelerated Degree Program - How Long Does It Take To Get A Bachelor's Degree?
Earn your degree faster with the accelerated program. Source: Pexel 

Take Summer Classes

You might think going to college in the summer is exhausting but if you have the goal of graduating in time, try to push yourself.  

Just think of summer as another semester, and take classes during those months. This can help you get into the classes that don’t fit into your usual schedule. 

Plus, you can eliminate some of the time your degree takes and reduce tuition costs. As many colleges try to encourage their students to attend summer classes, they tend to lower the fee during that time.

Avoid Changing Your Major Unless You Really Want To

Many students end up taking many years to complete their bachelor’s degree mainly due to changing majors. 

They might find their current major is not something they want to pursue in the long run and switch to another. And yes, the price is they have to take new core classes, and the old ones you already took might no longer be valid. 

However, being unsure about what you want to do with your professional life is inevitable.

 In that case, we recommend you consider spending the first two years of your bachelor’s degree taking core subjects that apply to all majors, such as English, humanities, and basic math, and science classes.

Ask your academic advisor what the best general ed classes are to take while you’re still deciding on a major.

Start Preparing Your Dissertations Early

An undergraduate dissertation (or Bachelor’s dissertation) is an extended piece of research and writing on a specific study subject. 

Many colleges and universities require their students to submit their dissertations in the final year of the degree program. 

You might think: ”It is just a piece of paper, why do we have to prepare it early?”

Okay, then do you know ”how long are dissertations?”Averaging 10,000 – 15,000 words!

Start Preparing Your Dissertations Early - How Long Does It Take To Get A Bachelor's Degree?
 Start Preparing Your Dissertations Early. Source: Pexel

10 Most In-Demand Degrees Within 10 Years 

In this last section, we would like to recommend not just planning your graduation time but also the majors worth investing time in. 

Here’s a list of some of the most in-demand degrees that lead to the highest demanding jobs in the future. 

Of course, this is all just for reference. The best major is still the major that you are passionate about! 

Keep Yourself Updated With 13 Most Demanding Jobs In Future


The US has been facing a nursing shortage for years and expects higher employment for this profession due to the retirement of many baby-boomer nurses. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 12% in nursing job growth by 2028, equal to around 200,000 new registered nurses positions.

With an average salary of more than $113,000, nursing is the fifth-best job in America. You will need to work with people so make sure you have a character reference list with you. It would save you in interviews.

Information Technology

 As the economy starts transitioning from manufacturing widgets to digits manufacturing, the demand for computer science and information technology experts is skyrocketing. 

According to the Department of Labor, employment in Information Technology is projected to grow by 19 per cent from 2020. 

Artificial Intelligence

According to Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and many other famous tech geeks, robots and other forms of AI will become popular in the future to help complete human tasks. 

The global AI software market is estimated to be worth $126 billion by 2025. A Gartner survey shows 37% of businesses already implement different forms of Artificial Intelligence in their workplaces.

Artificial Intelligence - How Long Does It Take To Get A Bachelor's Degree?
10 Most In-Demand Degrees In The Future. Source: Pexel

Business Administration

This degree is suitable to study in both online and offline programs.  It provides students with well-rounded backgrounds for multiple positions, such as analysts, managers, owners, CEOs, and administration.


Just as necessary as IT degrees, every business needs either one accountant or a team to manage finance. With this degree, you can get into jobs with pay between $70,000-$120,000. By 2026, it is expected for the field to grow by 11% for financial analysts and 26% for financial managers, according to the University of People.

The Final Thoughts 

We hope that after reading our article, you can come up with an answer to the question, ”how long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?” on your own. 

Honestly, by no means do we want to put pressure on your graduation duration.  We understand that everybody has their own struggles and preferences. Therefore, they choose to graduate at different times. 

Should you finish college after 3-4 years, don’t ever feel demotivated. It is not the time that paves the way to a bright future, it is the qualities and lessons you process along the journey. 

Check out our website Jobandedu, a load of interesting posts are available.

Sophia Rose

Sophia Rose works full-time at JobandEdu and has been a sorority member and leader since 2020. She has authored hundreds of articles on determining the career path, sorts of employment, the job-seeking process, and self-improvement as a devoted leader and aid to others. Despite her countless accomplishments, Sophia knows the hardships of securing a position in the employment market as a novice. On top of that, she's eager to share her command and life-long experience through her writings.