While college enrollment has slightly declined over the past ten years, the population of adults who have started college but didn’t complete their degree continues to rise. In fact, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center this population reached 40.4 million people in 2021.

Whether your decision to pause your education was due to financial or personal reasons, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to settle professionally. While more people are opting out of their bachelor's degree programs, most jobs still require a four-year degree to meet hiring requirements.

If you’re looking for the fastest online degree completion programs, here’s an overview of degree completion programs and how to earn your bachelor’s degree quickly.

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What is a degree completion program?

A degree completion program is designed to help anyone with college credits from an unfinished bachelor’s degree—or associate’s degree—obtain their bachelor’s degree. Students who had to pause their education due to time or resource constraints can finish their degree through these specialized programs.

In addition, the existence of these programs gives students the option to take a break from their degrees and return at a later date if they are feeling burnout and uninspired.

What to Consider When Choosing the Right Degree Completion Program

Many institutions offer degree completion programs, so it’s important to determine both your academic and career goals before choosing a program.

Consider asking yourself questions like:

  • Are you trying to complete your degree for a specific type of job?
  • Are you planning on completing the program while juggling other life responsibilities?
  • How many credits do you have available to transfer?
  • What kind of financial, career, and personal support will you need?

Here’s how the answers to these questions can help you find the right program for you.


If you’re juggling several personal and professional commitments as an adult learner, you need a program that provides flexibility in scheduling to help balance work, family, and other commitments.

“Flexibility should include things like scheduling, as well as course delivery and modality of those classes,” says Shelagh Tomaino, dean of graduate admission at Regis College.

Some of the fastest online degree completion programs offer students flexibility, but it’s just one indication of an institution’s willingness to support students through their studies. So it’s important to consider the many aspects of flexibility when choosing a degree completion program.


There are several reasons why people return to complete their degree. Some of the more common motivators include:

  • Meeting job requirements
  • Taking the next step in your career
  • Changing careers or industries

Whatever the case, it’s important to ensure that the program provides the faculty expertise and industry-informed curriculum you need to achieve your personal and professional goals.

Student Support

A key element to successfully returning to school is getting support from the admission and student affairs teams.

“Students need solid and consistent one-on-one support,” Tomaino says. “This is because it’s not always going to be a clear path for every student.”

Since students leave and return to school under different circumstances, support that’s customized to the individual is crucial. Make sure the degree completion program you’re considering has the support you need to succeed (e.g., tech, career, academic).

Transfer Credit Policy

Individuals considering a degree completion program should already have college credits from a previous bachelor’s or associate’s degree program. You don’t want those credits to go to waste, so research the program's policies to ensure that they will accept your transfer credits.

These policies may come with fine print on whether or not credits will be accepted by a degree completion program, but this depends on a variety of factors such as time of completion and your original institution.

Cost and Financial Aid

Financial resources are a critical consideration as you think about returning to school. This is especially true if this was the reason you didn’t complete your degree in the first place. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate the overall cost of the degree completion program and explore financial aid options available to you.

This can be through federal or state financial aid, merit- or need-based scholarships from an institution, or private financial aid programs for which you are eligible.

Five Tips to Help Complete Your Bachelor's Degree Quickly

While these factors are important to choosing the right program, there are other considerations when it comes to choosing the fastest online degree completion program. Here are five tips to help you get your bachelor’s degree quickly.

1. Maximize your transfer credits.

You’ve already devoted some time toward your degree, so it’s important to maximize your transfer credits for your degree completion program. Generally, this will depend on a number of factors that vary across institutions.

Therefore, look for a degree completion program that will support your educational journey with access to academic advisors during the application process.

“Advising through the admission process, as opposed to waiting until somebody is accepted, is a key piece,” Tomaino says. “Either early in the application process, or even before a prospective student applies, we get the word out that they should start pulling together their academic profile. We want to see all of those pieces and then have an advisory meeting during the admission process.”

A program that offers these services will ensure you’re maximizing your transfer credits and setting you up for success.

2. Plan your course schedule.

In addition to transferring your existing credits, you’ll also want to meet with an advisor to plan a semester-by-semester breakdown of courses to better understand the potential credit load per semester. This offers you expert advice on optimal course scheduling and how you can manage other commitments to complete your degree as quickly as possible.

“It’s going to be up to the individual, and what we’re offering,” Tomaino adds. “Students probably could crank out anywhere from one to four classes in a 15- or 16-week period. They’re probably working, have families; why not squeeze it in and get it done as soon as they can?”

3. Take advantage of summer sessions.

While a traditional college program has a fall and spring semester, the advantage of a degree completion program is that classes are offered year-round—including summer sessions. Taking courses all year round can naturally shorten the length of your degree completion program.

4. Seek academic support.

Academic support is another important factor in speeding up your degree completion program. Build relationships with professors and TAs, take advantage of on-campus resources (e.g., library, writing center, and tutoring center), and continue to stay in touch with your advisors throughout your education.

“The library is a great place to start at Regis. Support like writing and tutoring centers are all located in the library,” Tomaino says. “There are also training classes on different technology, new student orientation before each term, and student associations.”

5. Stay motivated and manage stress.

Juggling a degree completion program with work, family, and other commitments isn’t an easy feat. That’s why it’s critical to maintain a healthy work-life balance to manage stress and prevent burnout.

Some ways you can do this include:

  • Setting realistic goals—especially if you’re balancing your education with other responsibilities
  • Communicating concerns with your support system early in the process
  • Reaching out to your institutional support systems for help
  • Taking a break when needed

It’s Never Too Late

A degree completion program is a great option to go back to school. With one last investment in both time and money, you’ll be able to earn your four-year degree and upgrade your academic and career achievements.

Regis College’s degree completion programs have all the critical components of a quality program that will help you meet your goals and ensure you can complete your degree as quickly as possible.

“Regis has been working with adult learners for decades,” Tomaino concludes. “We know the demands of different lifestyles, work styles, and careers.”

Thinking about completing your unfinished business degree? Learn more about our Business Management (BA Degree Completion) program.

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