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

How long does it take to get a bachelor's degree or associate degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree can open the doors of many opportunities for you. But how long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree? In many cases, most people would unconsciously say “four years”. However, this is not always the case as you could earn the degree in less or more than four years.

You could earn a baccalaureate degree in three years only if you study to graduate early. In most cases, you can get this done online. This sounds interesting, right?

Most people consider an undergraduate degree as the basic requirement for most careers. To stay competitive in the workforce, one needs to have this requirement. As a result of this, the need to acquire a bachelor’s is on the increase every year.

Traditionally, students acquire a bachelor’s degree between four (4) to six (6) years. Students who are enrolled in accelerated programs can earn their first degree in less time. On the other hand, taking fewer credits each semester or changing your major during your studies could make you stay longer before you earn your bachelor’s.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports that 37.5% of students in undergraduate programs at universities acquired their bachelor’s in four (4) years. In the report also, 75.4% of students acquired their bachelor’s in six (6) years or less.

In certain cases, students earn their bachelor’s in three (3) years while in other cases, they earn theirs in eight (8) or more years.

To know how many years it will take you to earn your bachelor’s, we have written this content for you. Here, you will know what a first degree entails, the number of years it takes to earn a bachelor’s, and a step-by-step guide on how you can earn yours.

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree, also known as, a first degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate degree awarded by colleges and universities to students that have completed an academic program. The academic program in most cases lasts for four (4) years.

A first degree classifies a level of educational achievement that is higher than a high school diploma or GED and an associate degree (a two-year undergraduate degree) but lower than that of a graduate degree (master’s or doctoral).

What are the components of a first degree?

A baccalaureate degree takes about 120 semester hours or around 40 college courses to complete depending on the requirements and semester or quarter format set by an institution.

The 120 semester hours work only if the institution uses a semester system. If the institution uses a quarter system, it will take 180-quarter credits to complete a first or baccalaureate degree.

Statistics show that the highest number of bachelor’s degrees in the U.S. are awarded at regionally accredited liberal arts colleges. Additionally, liberal arts or general education courses make up more than half of the credits necessary for the completion of a first degree. The statistics also show that only about 30 to 36 credits fall under the student’s major area of study. This is still a huge surprise to students to date.

For most graduate degree programs, you must hold a first degree before enrolling.

READ: How Hard Is Nursing School?

How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?

The actual time it will take you to earn a bachelor’s degree can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the structure of the program, the type of program, and the choices of each student.

Generally, it takes four (4) years or eight (8) traditional semesters to complete a bachelor’s degree program.

You can still earn your first degree in three (3) years by enrolling in an undergraduate program that offers classes year-round, during fall, spring, and summer semesters.

On the other hand, it will take you five (5) or more years to earn your first degree if you enroll part-time in an undergraduate degree program.

How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree in Nursing?

It takes about four (4) years of fullt0me study to earn that Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). If you have an associate degree in nursing, it will take you two (2) years of full-time study to complete the RN-to-BSN degree program.

On the other hand, students that hold a bachelor’s degree in another field of study can enroll in accelerated BSN programs to earn the BSN. In this case, it may take students 11 to 18 months to complete the program and earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree in Psychology?

To earn a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, students complete 120 credits of full-time study in four (4) years.

A student can also earn an undergraduate degree in Psychology in less time by taking summer classes, test out of courses, or earn credits in high school. Alternatively, you can earn your first degree in Psychology in less time by enrolling in accelerated courses or online.

The time it takes to complete an undergraduate degree in Psychology depends on some program-specific factors. For example, it will take you a longer time to earn a bachelor’s degree in Psychology if you consider adding a double major or minor.

How long does it take to get an associate degree?

An associate is a foundational degree that gives students the opportunity to achieve academic and professional goals in less time than it takes to acquire a bachelor’s. Most times, it is used as a building block or foundation towards a bachelor’s degree.

Generally, it takes two (2) years of full-time study to complete around 60 credits of coursework before earning an associate degree. Most of the credits include general education coursework in English, math, social sciences, and natural sciences.

How To Get A Bachelor’s Degree: Step By Step Guide

You can attract many opportunities that will blossom your career by earning a bachelor’s. If you are wondering how you can earn the first degree, the steps below will guide you.

Step 1: Choose the degree that meets your needs

Earning an undergraduate degree will enlighten you more while serving as an investment in your future plans. Even if you have a career path that you are pursuing through training, vocational programs, or apprenticeships, a bachelor’s degree will give you an edge over others. Keep in mind that most employers hire candidates with degrees.

If you are not yet sure of your career goals or you want to experience a wide range of courses, a BA program will be the best bet for you. This is because a BA program will require you to choose major and complete certain courses in that area.

If you want a more specific major focus, choose a bachelor of science (BS) degree program. Here, your major will require you to complete more courses than BA programs. In addition, you will have to take some elective courses. Graduates with a bachelor of science degrees tend to have a clearer idea of the career they are pursuing, for example, medicine or science fields.

Step 2: Decide on a college or university

Now that you have chosen a BA or BS program, decide on the school you want to pursue your degree. Make online research of the possible schools that you have in mind and check for their reputation the major you wish to pursue. This will enable you to know if your choice of institution and major are accredited.

You can check the reputation of the school on Times Higher Education or U.S. News & World Report. As you are checking for the reputation, ensure to check the flexibility of the program.

If you find some schools and a program that are accredited and both of them meet your needs, ensure to compare their costs. The cost of acquiring a bachelor’s degree varies depending on the school and major. In the United States, the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree ranges between $20,000 to $40,000 per year.

Step 3: Complete the requirements for your degree

Generally, a bachelor’s degree programs require students to complete 120 credits of coursework under a semester system in the United States or around 40 individual courses. Of all the credits needed for your degree, 30 to 36 credits (10-12 courses) will be based on your chosen major.

If you are pursuing a BS degree, you will take some elective courses. Ensure to keep up with a minimum GPA of 2.0 or a grade of “C” every semester so as to earn your degree. It is recommended that you aim for a GPA of 3.0 or higher as it will give you an advantage when applying for a graduate degree program.

It will not be possible to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 or 3.0 if you fail to study harder. Remember that this is your future investment. So, strive to give your all for the cause of your degree.

In your final year, you may discover that an incomplete grade in a course or some unpaid fees may prevent you from graduating. Ensure to clear all these problems so that you graduate on time without having to spend an extra year in school.


Earning a first degree or baccalaureate opens the door to many career opportunities. Generally, it takes four (4) years to earn a bachelor’s degree but the number of years could be less or longer depending on certain factors. These factors include the structure of the program, the type of program, and the choices of individual students.

You can still earn your first degree in three (3) years by enrolling in an undergraduate program that offers classes year-round (fall, spring, and summer semesters).

If you enroll in an undergraduate program part-time, it will take you five (5) or more years to earn your first degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the types of bachelor’s degrees?

The three types of bachelor’s degrees include Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).

How can I earn a bachelor’s degree in less time?

You can acquire a first degree or baccalaureate in less than four years by doing the following:

  • Earn college credits in high school.
  • Decide on a major and stick by it till graduation.
  • Take more classes each semester/quarter.
  • Enroll in summer classes.
  • Choose shorter undergraduate programs.
  • Consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree program fully or partly online.

How fast can I get a bachelor’s degree?

If you wish to earn your bachelor’s as fast as possible, consider enrolling in accelerated or online bachelor’s programs. Here, you will earn your degree between 1-2 years of full-time study.

Can I get a bachelor’s degree online?

Yes. You can find a wide range of colleges that offer undergraduate degree programs online. A 2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics says that about 37% of bachelor’s degree seekers completed some or all of their coursework online.

How long will it take me to earn a bachelor’s degree online?

It will take you three (3) to four (4) years of full-time study to earn your first degree online. If you enroll part-time, then it will take you between 5-6 years to earn the degree. You can also earn a bachelor’s by enrolling in online schools that offer accelerated bachelor’s degree programs.




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