Not all online accounting courses are the same length. Some online courses take a few months to finish, while you can complete others in a matter of weeks. Knowing the types of course schedules and the pros and cons of each can help you make the best college choice for your learning style and goals.

Two Types of Course Schedules

In the United States, most traditional colleges and universities follow a semester-based schedule. The fall and spring semesters often last 16 to 18 weeks, though classes might also be offered on a condensed schedule in the spring and summer.

Some online accounting courses mirror the schedule of on-campus classes, with 16 weeks of coursework, including a final exam. However, other schools offer their online accounting courses in accelerated, eight-week formats. These classes cover the same material as they would in a course with a longer schedule, but in half the time.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to each type of course schedule. How do you decide whether a school that offers 16-week or eight-week online accounting courses is right for you?

Pros and Cons of Eight-Week and 16-Week Classes

One thing you should consider is the impact of course length on course structure. An eight-week course might be structured differently than a 16-week course would be.

In an eight-week class, there’s no time for a slow adjustment period. Instead of easing yourself into your studies, you’ll be midway through the course in what feels like the blink of an eye. You’ll have to get through all of your coursework and pass your final exam by the time students in sixteen-week classes are starting mid-terms.

The accelerated learning format could make it difficult to keep up, if you approach the class with expectations that it will be easy or won’t require much of your time. However, if you’re prepared for an intensive education, choosing a school that offers eight-week classes could allow you to earn your degree sooner.

Course length can affect the number of classes you take. A full-time student would typically take four to five 16-week courses at a time. Even part-time students may take two to three courses. That’s a lot of subjects to divide your time, attention and effort between. Students who take eight-week courses typically take fewer classes at a time. They can focus on just one or two classes rather than several, which is especially useful when it comes to high-level courses that are already difficult and intensive.

An eight-week class isn’t right for every online accounting student, but many students find that they prefer an accelerated schedule that allows them to earn a degree faster. In fact, USA Today recently noted that summer courses – well-known for utilizing a shortened schedule in both traditional and online formats – are becoming more popular than ever, thanks to advantages like the ones students enjoy in eight-week online classes.