how long is online school

Many students are choosing to take online courses instead of attending classes in person. This is due in part to the COVID pandemic and because more colleges than ever have made online courses accessible over the past several years. The convenience and flexibility of online degree programs offer distinct advantages over traditional brick-and-mortar programs, but there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between online courses or those taken on campus. There are many things to consider when choosing between the two types of programs, including the most common question, “how long does it take to get an online degree?”

In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of online coursework and explain how long online school takes. We’ll offer up some pros and cons of completing your degree online, some helpful tips for those who want to finish school remotely, and provide additional resources for online learning. If you’re ready to learn about how long it takes to get a bachelor’s (or any other) degree online, read on for all the details. 

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How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Degree?

Each school determines how long the courses last as well as how long the degree programs last. For example, an associate’s business degree program at one school may only last 15 months, while at another, it may last 24 months. Bachelor’s programs usually last between 36 to 48 months, while master’s degree programs usually last one to two years. 

Of course, programs vary depending on the school. Further on in this article, we’ll take a look at how long it takes to get a business degree online as an example. 

Understanding Online Classes

Online classes can be taken through a huge range of colleges, universities, and vocational schools. Some of these schools may not even have a brick-and-mortar campus. Instead, they are solely located online. To take part in an online program, a student will need a computer and Internet access. If a student does not have home Internet access, it is possible to complete studies at a local library or any place that offers Wi-Fi access. There are many types of degrees that can be earned online. From associate’s level healthcare degrees to doctorate-level business degrees, there is something for everyone.

Why Do Students Choose Online Courses?

There are a number of reasons students choose to take their courses online instead of attending college in person. Everyone is in a different situation, of course, but the most commonly stated reasons for online school include:

Tight Work Schedules

Many students who want to know “how long does online school take?” are trying to work one or more jobs while putting themselves through school or completing a degree program. The flexibility of taking classes online allows them to fit their coursework in with a busy work schedule so they can also make a decent living.

Family Obligations

While the average college student is fresh out of high school with no family obligations, more and more people are entering college later in life. This means that many students begin school with marriages, children, and other responsibilities on their plates. Online school allows them to be at home for their studies, tending to their families, and saving money on childcare.

Mental Health Challenges

For introverts and those who are uncomfortable in a group setting, online degree programs have been a godsend. Many students simply perform better when they are allowed to work independently outside of a classroom. For those who suffer from social anxiety, depression, ADHD, or other stressors, it can be empowering to be able to complete their studies online.  

Fear of Illness

In March of 2020, schools across the nation began canceling in-person classes due to the deadly coronavirus. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, most institutions switched to remote and hybrid-style learning. Within the year, almost all universities and colleges had online classes in place. For students with compromised immunity or who fear getting sick, taking classes online is ideal. 

Financial Reasons

Many online schools offer cheaper rates per credit hour. Students who choose to study online also do not incur the high expenses of living on campus or the cost of commuting to and from classes. 

Individual Pace

Just like a brick-and-mortar degree program, online courses still have deadlines for assignments and exams. However, the nature of the classes means they are accessible 24/7, so students can go at their own pace. As long as a student has access to the internet, they can attend to their studies from anywhere at any time. 

how long does online school take

How Long Does It Take to Get a Business Degree Online?

In general, a Bachelor of Science in Business degree is a 120 credit program that takes four years to complete for full-time students. If you are coming in from another school and you are able to transfer your credits, you can often complete it in two years. Transfer students will typically have either an associate’s degree or the required amount of credits from another eligible program. 

Whether you take classes online or study on campus, you will earn the same exact business degree, and the diploma will require the same number of credit hours. But how long is a college course?

The Department of Education has set forth specific enrollment status classifications that remain constant in most schools:

  • Full-time: 12-semester units per term
  • Three-quarter time: 9-11 credit hours per semester
  • Half time: 6-8 credit hours per semester
  • Less than half time: 1-5 credit hours per semester

However, not all remote programs are alike. If you are the type of student who can handle a faster pace, many schools have accelerated degree programs that will allow you to complete your Bachelor’s degree in business in less time. You will still complete the required curriculum; you will just get it done quicker.

See also: Is an Online Business Degree Worth It?

What Type of Courses Will I Take In an Online Business Degree?

The courses you take online to earn a bachelor’s degree in business will be essentially the same as in-person courses. You will need to satisfy your core requirements and also take classes like:

  • Business Law
  • Management Information Systems
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Business Ethics
  • Management Theory and Practice
  • Human Resources Management
  • Principles of Finance
  • Managerial Economics
  • Accounting
  • Business Communications

Let’s compare three online schools to see how long it would take to get a business degree online:

Columbia College

Columbia, Missouri

Columbia College is one of the top choices among students looking to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in business management. The school offers six-term schedules a year, so there is a lot of flexibility as to the time of year you can enroll. Required courses include Cross-Cultural Management, Human Resource Management, Organizational Behavior, Business Law, Diversity, and others. 

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelors From Columbia?

Students can earn a Bachelor’s degree at Columbia in as little as three years and five months.

See also: Columbia College

Post University

Waterbury, Connecticut

Through the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business, Post University students who want to get a Bachelor of Science in Management quickly can choose an accelerated program. Available six times a year, it consists of eight-week modules, with most students taking two courses during each module. You can choose from concentrations like Sports Management, Sustainability, Computer Information Systems, Project Management, and several others.

How Long Does an Online Business Degree From Post Take?

Students can earn their degree from Post in as little as two years via the online program.   

Florida International University

Miami, Florida

Florida International University students who want to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Management can do so through the remote program offered by the school’s R. Kirk Landon Undergraduate School of Business. You will learn the fundamentals of business like strategic management, professional communication, organizational management, operations management, financial management, and much more. The program requires 120 credit hours, with 60 credit hours required each from the upper and lower divisions.

How Long How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online From Florida International University?

Students can complete their entire Bachelor’s degree in 12 to 24 months the number of transfer credits they begin with. 

You might also like: 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges with High Graduation Rates

How Long Are Online Classes?

One of the main reasons students can complete their online coursework faster than in-person learning is because of the flexibility they offer. Rather than being tied to a specific timeframe, you can study whenever your schedule allows. If you get up early in the morning, for example, you can log in and complete your work when the rest of the household is still asleep. If you are a night owl, you can do your studies when everyone else has gone to bed. Or, if you have an erratic schedule, you can work on your assignments in short bursts of time between jobs or when your children are napping. 

In addition to asking, “how long does an online degree take?” Many students also want to know to know more about the classes themselves.

How Long Is an Online College Course?

Naturally, with all classes, you will have to log in and show that you are completing the work, but here is a rough estimate of how it works with most courses:

Average number of logins required: Two to five per week

Average time spent on course work: 10 to 20 hours per week

See also: How Do Online Colleges Know You Are the One Doing the Work?

When choosing the best online school for you, one thing to keep in mind is whether the classes will be synchronous or asynchronous.

Synchronous Classes

In synchronous classes, the whole classroom logs in on a set schedule and interacts with each other and the professor. The class starts and ends at a specific time, so you need to make room for it in your current schedule.

Asynchronous Classes

With asynchronous classes, students complete their course work independently, logging in whenever they choose. Although there are still deadlines, it is the most flexible learning style available. With asynchronous courses, the question of “how long is online school?” Is answered by “How long would you like it to be?”

Depending on the school, the formats can vary with each class. Some schools offer all asynchronous courses, while others have a combination of both. You’ll want to carefully consider your scheduling needs before committing to a synchronous program. 

See also: How Do I Choose an Online College?

how long does it take to get an online degree

What Are the Technology Requirements for Online Coursework?

Another consideration when pursuing an online degree is whether or not you have the tech skills and computer requirements to complete the work. Unless you are going for an advanced technology degree, there is usually no need for special tech skills to complete your courses. As long as you can navigate your way around the internet, use email, and master a word processing program, you should be all set.

You will, however, need a basic setup to complete online coursework. While it may differ according to the online degree program you choose, most will require:

  • A computer with the latest operating system
  • High-speed internet
  • 5 GHz processor or higher
  • At least 1 GB of RAM
  • Sound card and video card
  • Speakers and a headset

See also: How Can I Be Sure an Online Degree Program Is Legitimate?


How Long Do The Classes Last?

The length of online classes varies. Some can be completed in as little as five weeks, while others take longer. On average, online courses last eight to nine weeks, especially those offered through universities. On the other hand, some schools that specialize in online degree programs have developed online courses that can be completed in a shorter time frame.

It is important to note that asynchronous online courses can usually be completed in as little time as a student prefers. For example, since most online teachers post all of their assignments at the beginning of the course, even if a course is said to last eight to nine weeks, the work can be completed and submitted as quickly as a student chooses. For courses that include online discussion board posts, these assignments may have to be completed on a weekly basis.

How Long Do the Programs Themselves Last?

Each school determines how long each degree program lasts. So, if you are getting ready to pursue your degree online, you’ll want to check around to see what is available for you. On average, a bachelor’s degree at a brick-and-mortar school takes four years. Students who have transfer credits can finish faster. Students pursuing the same degree online may be able to complete their program much quicker, depending on their level of motivation and drive. 

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