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Traditional Time Limit to Earn a Bachelor's Degree

written by: KLeeBanks•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 6/29/2010

A bachelor's degree is often a required minimum degree for better career opportunities. Since a bachelor's degree includes general education and concentration courses, the question which typically arises is, "Is there a time limit to earn bachelor's degree training?" Here, we answer that question.

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    Traditional Bachelor’s Degree Program Details

    New career opportunities may become available for those people who earn bachelor’s degrees. A step above an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree is still an undergraduate degree. You may be wondering, however, "Is there a time limit to earn bachelor's degree training?" The answer, depends on the type coursework you are trying to complete, and the institution you choose to complete it through.

    The traditional bachelor’s degree program takes four years to complete for the student who attends school full-time. For most institutions, full-time status requires a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester; however, many institutions recommend 15 to 18 credit hours per semester to guarantee completion of the bachelor’s degree program within a four-year period. If students are unable to attend school full-time, a bachelor’s degree program may take five to eight years to complete, depending on the student’s availability and the school’s requirements.

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    General Education Courses

    The first two years of a bachelor’s degree program typically require the student to take general education courses, while the final two years focus on the concentration courses relevant for the particular degree program.

    The first two years of a bachelor’s degree program typically require the student to take general education courses. The general education courses form the foundation for the specialized courses relevant for the particular degree program during the final two years. Among the typical general education courses are the following, which vary depending on the particular institution as well as the degree program (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science):

    • Arts / Humanities: this category of courses often includes introductory courses in art and music appreciation, drama, and humanities.
    • Behavior / Social Sciences: these courses generally include introductory psychology and sociology.
    • Biology / Physical Sciences: the science courses often include introductory biology and physical science.
    • English / Communications: these courses typically include composition, expository, and/or research writing; introductory literature; and communication media.
    • Computer: this category requires basic computer applications and Internet research techniques.
    • History: this category often includes courses in United States, western civilization, and/or world history.
    • Mathematics: this category usually includes general or finite math.
    • Philosophy: this category often includes introductory philosophy and contemporary issues.
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    Difference between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science Degrees

    The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is a good consideration for those students who enjoy a more flexible and liberal arts or “interdisciplinary" approach to studies. Most BA degree programs include a wide choice of electives. The BA degree option is also a good selection for students who want to concentrate in communications, English, humanities, and social studies.

    In contrast, the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree option is more intensive. Students who choose this option generally focus on science, math, and technical courses. The BS option is more appropriate for students who plan to follow career paths such as teachers and researchers.

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    Note regarding Online Bachelor Degree Programs

    If attending a “brick and mortar" institution is impractical for adult learners due to other work and life obligations, students may want to consider online degree programs. Online learning provides the beauty of flexibility and convenience that may be more suitable for busy adult learners. In addition, most online learning programs offer accelerated options that enable students to complete bachelor degree programs in less time than traditional programs.






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