Is it possible to start earning a college degree at any time? Like, could you literally enroll in college tomorrow, and begin taking classes this month? Actually, yes. Yes, you can. Thanks to the continued proliferation of online education and significant advances in the administration of self-paced learning, there are more options than ever before to begin earning your college degree right away…and we mean, right away!
This is particularly positive news for the significant population of adult learners who are pursuing online degrees today. According to EdSurge, students over the age of 25 now represent a full 40% of all enrollees in American higher education. With some 8 million working adults in schools today, online degree options have become increasingly popular for their flexibility and accessibility.
But the value of online education is greater than mere convenience. For many, online education is something that can be molded and managed around the complex demands of everyday life. From asynchronous learning models and pre-recorded lectures to live remote classes on weekends and in the evenings, many online learning experiences are tailored to the needs of working adults. Indeed, this flexibility is helping to make the college or graduate degree a possibility for those who might otherwise have no practical way of earning one. And this speaks to the value of college degrees that start anytime.
The traditional college degree program revolves on a two-semester format. Fall and Spring semesters are composed of roughly 15-17 weeks each. This means that most students will only have the option of beginning classes in either September or January. In lieu of this two-semester format, many online degree programs offer multiple start dates throughout the course of a year. This makes it possible for prospective students to both enroll at any time and begin courses at most points throughout the year. For adult learners who have the goal of getting in, getting out, and getting on with their careers, there is a particular benefit in finding an online college that you can start anytime.
Many of the Best Online Colleges will offer a wide range of flexible enrollment and scheduling options. Inquire further with the admissions office at any of these fully accredited online colleges to find out what your options are.
Or, read on to learn more about self-paced learning and online colleges that start anytime...
We have provided more details for some of the colleges that we have highlighted where you can start college online today. The colleges on our list use online delivery flexibility to offer many more start dates each year while offering some self-paced courses.
Tuition + fees
Arizona State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
With more than 51,000 students enrolled in its on campus and online degree programs, Arizona State University (ASU) has grown from its modest beginnings in 1885 to become one of the biggest and most prestigious institutions in the United States. And if you want the most incredible flexibility, ASU Online might be the best option.
Due to this state university having multiple start dates, you can enroll in various undergraduate and graduate degree programs through ASU Online anytime. Whether you’re prepared to start classes in the fall, spring, or summer, you’ll have a lot of possibilities. ASU Online offers two 7.5-week and one 15-week session each semester, giving you the ultimate scheduling flexibility similar to the University of North Dakota.
Depending on the curriculum you are interested in, different semesters have different start dates for these sessions. Depending on your curriculum and preferences, you can start your studies at Arizona State University in August, October, January, or March, with two or three summer start dates possible.
Tuition + fees
Liberty University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Jerry Falwell, an American evangelist, founded Liberty University in 1971. Since then, it has grown to be one of the largest Christian universities in the world, enrolling a staggering 75,000 students in its undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, as well as in its well-liked online ones.
Each semester is split into three eight-week subterms and one semester-long subterm to allow for multiple start dates throughout the year. Graduate students can transfer up to 75% of their credits toward a bachelor’s degree and 50% toward a master’s degree by gaining credit for prior learning.
The ability to finish your tasks whenever is the most tempting feature of Liberty University Online because it enables you to combine your education with other commitments. Additionally, online students at Liberty University can access various resources, including the online library, study aids, support services, IT help, writing tools, and federal financial aid, just like full-time on-campus students.
Tuition + fees
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
You can find several programs at the University of Illinois Online that are tailored to your specific requirements and interests if you wish to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree online. While the University of Illinois Online presently only offers the Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability program as an online bachelor’s degree option, it provides access to over 1,200 online undergraduate courses in various subjects.
Additionally, flex formats such as that employed by the University of North Dakota allow you to manage your studies with employment and other commitments because you can begin a course anytime and finish it in 16 weeks. But what distinguishes the University is its dedication to practical applicability which improves student outcomes.
You will pick up fresh perspectives, information, and valuable skills with each of their online programs that you can use immediately in your professional life. You can be certain that you are receiving a top-notch education from experts committed to your success because the same professors who teach on-campus courses also teach their online courses.
Tuition + fees
University of Oklahoma’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
To prepare you for future job success, the University of Oklahoma, which is a public research university and not a state university, provides online degree programs that combine world-class faculty and business specialists. You would of course need a high school diploma. Each program at OU Online is taught by a combination of practicing professors and seasoned faculty, giving students access to a cutting-edge curriculum that is demanding and applicable to today’s labor market.
You can be certain that you are learning the skills and knowledge required to be successful in your chosen sector by forming collaborations with industry experts. Upon graduation, you will join a network of more than 250,000 alumni who have done great things in their careers and carry on the university’s rich heritage of excellence.
With the same coursework and degree requirements as students taking classes on campus, you can complete an undergraduate degree at your speed. Additionally, you can begin whenever it is most convenient because programs are available during the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.
Tuition + fees
Southern New Hampshire University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) began laying the groundwork for online education in 1995. As early as 1997, they launched a ground-breaking three-year bachelor’s program in business administration. The online education program at SNHU is one of its main advantages.
All of their online courses are created by a team of e-learning experts who make sure the curriculum is prepared for delivery online. The course objectives in each program are designed to give you the knowledge and abilities you need to be successful in your chosen profession. You will study from the best at SNHU because their online lecturers are leaders in their fields.
For undergraduate students, a semester is eight weeks long; for master’s students, a semester is ten weeks long. You can therefore enroll at any moment during the year, take a semester off if necessary, or double up if you wish to hasten the completion of your degree.
Yes, there are indeed some online college degree programs that you can start anytime. There are also many online programs that you can start at multiple points throughout the year. In other words, while you may not be able to start certain online degree programs at literally any date, there are enough start dates throughout the year to match the needs of most schedules. For instance, some “start anytime” programs will offer a monthly start date (as opposed to the biannual start dates available in traditional two-semester formats).
At the top end of the flexibility spectrum are schools like the University of North Dakota, which employs a “flex” approach to the more than two-dozen online bachelor’s degree programs offered. This flex approach means that you can begin your degree program at literally any point throughout the calendar year. The same is true of the University of Illinois Online, which provides 16-week self-paced programs entirely based on this flex format.
Other schools, like Upper Iowa University, offer a smaller selection of degree programs which can be started at any time. Upper Iowa’s two “start-anytime” degrees are referred to as self-paced programs and allow for the asynchronous completion of undergraduate studies. It is noteworthy though that Upper Iowa also offers a variety of individual self-paced courses that can be taken anytime and that are designed to be compatible with a broader and more traditional degree program.
There are also numerous online college degree programs that offer multiple designated start dates throughout the year, making it easy for students to begin at practically anytime. For instance, Colorado State University offers as many as 12 start dates in the year, which is about as close to flex scheduling as you can get. The University of Maryland Global Campus has 11 start dates, and Columbia College has 6 start dates.
For adult learners, or students at any stage of their education who are hoping to get started on a degree right away, the programs above are just a few examples of how you could avoid the waiting period.
Online degrees that start anytime are particularly valuable for working professionals. Many of us aspire to advance our credentials and professional opportunities but work in highly seasonal fields. Online programs that start anytime make it infinitely more possible for an accounting professional to schedule courses after tax season is over. Flex degree programs make it a lot easier for teachers to take graduate courses in the summer months. Rolling start dates make it a lot easier for military personnel to schedule courses around tours of duty.
In short, the growing availability of online programs starting anytime means that a wider array of prospective learners can access educational opportunities without disrupting work or personal responsibilities.
Self-paced learning models have played a major role in the wider availability or start-anytime programs. Though there are a number of different ways to implement self-paced learning, most programs are characterized by the flexibility availed to students. Self-paced learning usually employs asynchronous methods of education—that is, learning opportunities that can be accessed at any time, regardless of time and place. Students may be able to view pre-recorded lectures online, complete online educational units and testing modules on their own schedule, participate in classroom discussions through online message boards, and more. In most cases, students will be expected to complete their self-paced courses or full degree programs within a specified duration of time. However, within that duration, the time that you use to “attend” classes, complete assignments, and take exams may be largely up to you.
In some cases, self-paced online education may indeed be more affordable. Because many of these models rely less heavily on live instruction, they may employ fewer educators. Indeed, pre-recorded classes and lectures can certainly amplify the impact of a single instructor, creating access for countless enrollees. The savings, in this case, may be passed along to you, the student.
Another reason that self-paced online programs may be more affordable is because many are offered through community colleges. Community colleges are typically more affordable than traditional four-year colleges to begin with. Those that provide self-paced learning opportunities are in a position to extend further savings to their students. While the typical four-year public college or university will charge between $300 and $1100 per credit, you may be able to pursue a self-paced degree at an accredited two-year college for as little as $100-$150 per credit.
Yes, you can enroll in a fully accredited online program starting anytime. As noted in the first section above, a number of public four-year colleges and universities offer various start-anytime, flex, and multiple-start-date formats, particularly through the online component of their respective programs.
There are, however, even more options for fully accredited self-paced online programs at the community college level. While the primary drawback here is that you would only be able to earn an associate degree through a two-year institution, this would provide an extremely flexible and accessible way to initiate your education. Depending on your professional goals, you might be prepared to enter or advance within your profession immediately upon earning a two-year degree. However, in most professions, your earning potential and opportunities for advancement go up significantly upon earning a bachelor’s degree.
The good news is that any credits or credentials you earn through an accredited self-paced online associate degree program can usually be transferred to most public colleges or universities, especially those affiliated with the same state as your community college. In other words, even if you do plan to eventually earn a full undergraduate degree, you might be able to begin your pursuit of this degree through a self-paced online program beginning at virtually any point throughout the year.
The suitability of self-paced learning for you will primarily depend on your unique learning preferences and situation. This is a fantastic option for people who need flexibility and like self-paced learning. It is also suitable for people who like to take charge of their education and feel more at ease learning independently.
Self-paced learning is not the most excellent option for you if, on the other hand, you perform best in a controlled learning environment and value teacher direction and support. Additionally, there are better choices than self-paced learning if you have trouble managing your time or lack the ambition to complete your homework on time.
The range of courses that are suitable for self-paced learning is impressive. But specific courses are more appropriate for self-paced study than others. Self-paced learning is best suited for subjects like arithmetic and language that involve a lot of memorization and repetition.
Similarly, self-paced learning is ideal for disciplines like coding or graphic design that require a lot of practice or practical application. Self-paced learning is excellent for courses with much reading, writing, or research.
Synchronous sessions, like traditional classes, are scheduled at specified times, and both students and instructors are expected to show up and interact in real-time. On the other hand, Asynchronous classes do not have a predetermined schedule and allow students to do their schoolwork whenever they choose under a set time limit.
If you’re considering getting an online degree, you may still want to visit campus before choosing a degree program. Find out why.
There are also many benefits to attending a community college. To learn more about them, find out Why You Should Go to Community College.
Learn more about the college admissions process with a look at our complete guide.
Or get valuable study tips, advice on adjusting to campus life, and much more at our student resource homepage.