Finishing a college degree program usually takes four years, but because there are now a number of options available as alternatives to a traditional four years at a brick and mortar school, many students ask, “What is the fastest way to get a bachelor’s degree online?” These students want to spend less time taking classes and get their degrees faster than their peers. While there is no one right answer to this question, there are a few ways you can get a degree fast in an online school.

Test Out of  Required Classes

Before you enroll in an online program, ask if the school offers the chance for students to test out of some required classes. Many schools have required classes that you must take like English, math and foreign language classes. These schools often offer tests that you can take, which determine whether you must take lower level courses or if you can jump ahead to more advanced classes. If you score high enough on those exams, you can test out, which means you have proficiency in those subjects and do not need to take any classes. This cuts down on the time you’ll spend in college.

Take More Classes

Full-time students take at least 12 credit hours each semester, and as most colleges require that bachelor’s students take 120 credits to graduate, you’ll spend 10 semesters in college to earn your degree. Taking 15 credits each semesters lets you graduate in eight semesters. You can take 18 credits every semester to graduate even faster, and taking classes in the summer can help you finish the program in around three years of full-time study.

Get Credit for Your Practical Experiences

The fastest bachelor’s degree online programs are those that award students credit for the practical experiences that they have. These programs are often open to adult students and those who took a break from school. You can ask about getting credit for any of the professional work that you did in the field as well as any volunteer work that you did in the past too. Schools will ask for proof of the work that you did such as a copy of your resume or a letter from an employer or supervisor. The more experience you have, the less time it will take to graduate.

Enroll in a Fast-Track Program

If you really want to finish college fast, consider enrolling in a fast-track program. According to Jon Marcus of Time Magazine, many of these programs are open to high school students who come from backgrounds that would make it difficult for them to finish college. Marcus claims that these programs let students complete an associate’s degree in 12 months or less and finish a bachelor’s degree in three years or less. A fast-track program might be the fastest online bachelor’s degree because it uses an accelerated learning pace. Some programs include shorter classes that let you earn three credits in eight weeks or less too.

Going to college can improve your outlook and help you find a good job, but not everyone can spend four years working on a bachelor’s degree. Many students look for the fastest way to get a bachelor’s degree online because they want to earn their degrees quicker, which they can do in a fast-track program or by taking more classes.

Related resource: Top 10 Online Colleges for a Bachelor’s Degree