How Long Is A Bachelor’s Degree? Here’s All You Must Know

Are you preparing to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program but you’re not sure how long it will take for you to finish? You should read this article.

The typical timeline for a bachelor’s degree is 4 years but depending on several other factors it may take lesser or even longer.

For instance, if you’ve earned previous course credit through an associate degree before applying for a bachelor’s degree program, you may not spend up to four years.

Find out the factors that can affect the timeframe for acquiring a bachelor’s degree and more.

What is the timeline for a bachelor’s degree?

A full-time degree program in the US takes four to five years to complete with a credit requirement of 120 credits to graduate. By implication, the course load per semester for most of the courses is 15 credits.

Full-time students are those who choose to dedicate a chunk of their time to their studies. In contrast, part-time students commit only a part of their time to studying. This may be due to work or other personal issues.

As such, part-time students running a bachelor’s degree program take more than four years to complete their program. The timeline for them depends on the course unit they are able to take per semester.

A student who takes about 10-course units per semester can finish in 6 years. Whereas a student who is only able to take 6-course units per semester will finish in 10 years.

Factors that affect how long it takes to get a bachelor’s degree

Although a full-time bachelor’s degree should take 4 to 5 years at most, there are factors that could make it longer than expected or even shorten it.

The common causes include:

1. Switching majors

While undergoing a major, students may lose interest in their course of study and decide to switch to another major.

This may be because the major they are currently undertaking is too difficult for them and they can no longer cope with it.

By switching majors, students lose some credit or may need to take additional courses which automatically extends their time in college.

2. Advanced high school classes

This is a program developed by the college board as a way to introduce students to college-level classes and also gain college credit before graduating high school.

Students who enroll for AP can shorten the time spent in college or the University by transferring course credit into their major.

3. Associate degree credits

Students who have successfully completed an associate degree can transfer some relevant course credit when they enroll for a bachelor’s degree.

The format for associate’s degree holders is 2 + 2. So instead of starting afresh, associates degrees holders will resume in the 3rd year.

4. Summer classes

Many universities offer courses during the summer months. By taking advantage of this, students can complete their coursework quicker and graduate faster.

Students who enroll for summer classes often can finish their undergraduate education in three years.

5. Dropping classes

Students could decide to drop some course loads if they are unable to take all during a semester. If you do this, you automatically elongate the time it takes to complete the 120 credit hours required to graduate.

Common types of bachelor’s degrees

There are three common types of bachelor’s degrees and each of them requires the same amount of course credit to complete. They include:

1. Bachelor of Arts (BA)

A BA degree is a four-year undergraduate degree awarded to liberal arts students. It is a type of baccalaureate degree and is offered only at public and private four-year universities and colleges.

In addition to the standard BA degrees, there is a career-specific bachelor of arts degrees, including a bachelor of arts in administration, interdisciplinary studies, and a regent’s bachelor of arts.

2. Bachelor of Science (BS)

A BS degree focuses on science, math, and engineering. But some Universities may offer both a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts in the same discipline

If this is the case, the Bachelor of Science degree is usually more focused on the scientific part of that discipline and is targeted toward students intending to pursue graduate studies in the field.

3. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

A BFA degree or Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) is awarded to students pursuing professional education in the visual, fine, or performing arts.

It differs from a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in that the majority of the program consists of a practical studio component, as contrasted with lecture and discussion classes.

Examples of BFA degree specialties include performing arts, music, fashion design, photography, film production, dance, and so on.

How long is an online bachelor’s degree?

Just like offline education, online bachelor’s degree programs also take four years to complete. It can also be taken part-time or as a full-time program of 12-course credits per semester.

You could also transfer some of your course credit from an associate’s degree in the same discipline to an online degree.

This can help reduce the number of years you’d spend completing your degree significantly. It could also help reduce your semester work altogether.

Additionally, it is becoming easier and faster to obtain a bachelor’s degree online with many courses offering you the flexibility to finish in 2 years – the fastest being an accelerated bachelor’s degree.

What is an accelerated bachelor’s degree?

This is a unique online degree that allows students to round off a 16-week degree in as fast as 5 weeks. Here, the instructor gives students heavier coursework so that they can finish in less time.

As such, you will need to dedicate a lot of time to your program within these periods. You should be ready to set aside other time-taken obligations. An accelerated online bachelor’s degree takes typically 2 years to complete.


What is the shortest bachelor’s degree?

The fastest bachelor’s degrees are online degrees such as accelerated programs as well as those that allow maximum credit transfers, grant credit for work experience, and offer competency-based credit through test-out methods.

How much can you earn with a bachelor’s degree?

Bachelor’s degree holders earn an average salary of $69,381 annually.

How many years is a master’s degree?

A master’s degree takes one to two years to complete.

Which degree has the highest salary?

Engineers with bachelor’s degrees enjoy the highest salary with petroleum engineering topping the list with an average salary of $187,300 per year.

What is the hardest university major?

The hardest majors include mathematics, engineering, physics, finance, and economics amongst others.


With many jobs in the US requiring a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, many individuals are returning to college to further their education.

Regardless of the time frame, you should consider getting your bachelor’s degree because of the benefits it presents. Thankfully, you can enroll in an online BSc or BA program or do a part-time study program.

Online learning platforms like Coursera have accredited degree programs that you can take advantage of. There are opportunities for financial aid for students on these platforms too.

Finally, if you have a bachelor’s degree already, you should see the benefits of getting an MBA too.

Thanks for reading.