Bachelor degrees are offered by colleges and universities across the United States and even around the world. Many people choose to pursue a degree in a specific field to have access to jobs in this field. Others simply want the experience of attending college, thus they may not care what subject their degree is in or how long it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Although many assume it only takes college students four years to complete their bachelor’s degree, information released by the National Center for Education Statistics show that the average student takes an extra six months beyond their four years to actually obtain a degree. This time frame is even longer for students attending a two-year college first, as they take about six years to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
The career field or subject a student pursues can play a factor in the amount of time it takes to earn a degree. While all bachelor programs require a minimum of 120 hours for degree completion, some have a higher minimum of 130 or more. This can add at least one extra semester for students in the chosen field.
Also affecting the length of time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree is a student’s own academic progress. Students that take heavy course loads of 16 to 20 credit hours each semester can complete the program faster than students who take the minimum number of credits required for full-time status, which is generally 12. Students who are forced to repeat a course as a result of a low grade might also extend the time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree.
The College Experience
While the main focus for students attending college needs to be their academics, it doesn’t mean they can’t become involved in the social aspects of college. Student organizations and student activities are two popular ways for students to get involved. Although this adds to the overall college experience, it can extend the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree as it takes time away from classes and studying.
Although you may want to finish your bachelor’s degree as soon as possible, it’s important that you give yourself adequate time. Doubling up on courses to graduate a semester or two early can backfire and result in poor grades and even failing a class since you don’t have as much time to devote to each class.
Allison Dodge has been a writer since 2005, specializing in education, careers, health and travel. She has worked at educational institutions for more than 10 years. Dodge has a master's degree in education administration.