5 Ways to Accelerate Completion of Your Master’s Degree

Published on: February 28, 2024

Ready to pursue an advanced degree? If so, then a master’s degree might be the right choice for you. Compared to a bachelor’s degree alone, master’s degree holders make an average of about 20 percent more in annual income. Plus, graduate degree holders can gain valuable skills that boost their opportunities for career advancement and qualify them for more jobs.

Of course, getting a master’s degree also requires quite an investment—not just in terms of money but in terms of time. It’s not uncommon for a master’s degree program to take two years to complete, even if you’re enrolled on a full-time basis.

The good news? There are ways to accelerate your master’s degree. In doing so, you can graduate faster, begin reaping the benefits of your advanced degree sooner, and potentially cut down on the cost of your schooling.

So, what are some practical steps you can take to accelerate your master’s degree? We have some tips and best practices you can follow to graduate in less time.

1. Maximize Transfer Credits

One strategy to consider when it comes to getting your master’s degree faster is to take advantage of any transfer credits for which you may be eligible. If you’ve enrolled in a graduate program in the past and did not complete it, regardless of how long ago this may have occurred, you may be able to transfer some (or all) of those credits to a new master’s degree program.

If you’re interested in doing this, you’ll need to reach out to your previous school or program to obtain your official transcript. From there, set up an appointment with an academic advisor from your new program to determine which credits may transfer.

In some cases, previous academic experience or even professional experience can qualify for credit in a master’s degree program. If you’ve already been working in your chosen field for a few years, you have probably accumulated some valuable work experience that could translate into credits. This is another situation where it would be worth setting up a meeting with an academic advisor in your graduate program to determine which credit(s) you may qualify for based on your experience.

2. Intensive Coursework Options

Another option to consider is to explore more intensive coursework options that allow you to condense semesters or otherwise complete more credit hours in a shorter period than is considered “standard.” In this type of scenario, for example, you might complete an extra course or two per semester to finish your program a full semester sooner. In other cases, you might enroll in intensive master’s courses to finish your program early with your academic advisor’s approval.

Should you decide to go this route, there are some things you should keep in mind. First, understand that intensive coursework in a master’s degree program is not for everyone. If you’re already working a full-time job or have other obligations in your life, then intensive coursework at the graduate level may simply be too much to take on at once.

If you’re committed to taking on a heavier course load to complete your degree early, be sure to create a realistic game plan for yourself to manage the work effectively. Consider creating a detailed schedule for yourself where you block off time to study for each class throughout the week. Likewise, working on your note-taking skills and keeping yourself organized can go a long way. You can also keep yourself motivated by reminding yourself of your reasons for enrolling in the program in the first place, as well as the competitive advantage that your advanced academic achievement may earn you in the field once you graduate.

3. Utilizing Online Learning Platforms

Many colleges and universities offer courses and degree programs entirely online. For some, online classes can make taking on a heavier courseload more manageable. With an online class, you can save yourself the time of commuting to a physical campus and getting to classes each day. Instead, you can log onto your classes from the convenience of your computer or mobile device, incorporating your studies into your busy schedule.

Asynchronous online classes can be especially useful for those who aspire to complete their master’s degree programs early. With asynchronous classes, students can work at their own pace, potentially resulting in faster completion of a degree. In some cases, online degree programs or online classes may also cost less than their in-person counterparts, which could help make your higher education more affordable and attainable.

Even for programs that require some in-person classes, striking a balance between online and in-person coursework can help master’s degree students make the best use of their limited time. This is especially true for students who may also be working part- or full-time jobs while balancing other life demands. The key is to understand that online classes are not inherently easier than in-person classes. Students taking online graduate courses will need to be self-motivated and hold themselves accountable for completing all coursework and assignments.

4. Summer and Winter Sessions

Although you might consider a “typical” academic year to include summers off, the reality is that taking summer and winter classes could help you expedite the completion of your master’s degree program. Check to see if your program offers classes during the summer and winter semesters that will count toward your degree; if not, you might consider meeting with your advisor to see if there are any credits you could take during the summer or winter sessions that could translate to your graduate degree program.

By taking advantage of off-season courses, you can get through your master’s program faster. This is especially true if you balance intensive short-term courses with regular semester-long classes to make the most of your schedule. You will have to sacrifice some time off during the summer or winter semesters— but when you’re able to graduate sooner, you’ll be glad you did.

5. Effective Time Management and Planning

One of the biggest challenges students tend to face when completing a graduate degree program is learning how to use their time effectively. Students enrolling in a master’s degree program are often also handling other important life obligations, such as raising a family and working. Adding the challenging coursework of a graduate degree can be a difficult adjustment, which is why effective time management in graduate studies is so important.

By working on your time management skills ahead of enrolling in a graduate program, you’ll be prepared to take on the demands of a master’s degree course load without making sacrifices in other areas of your life. You can work on your time management skills by reducing or eliminating distractions as much as possible during your program. Identify the sources of distraction in your life (such as social media or video games) and push the “pause” button on these activities (or drastically reduce them, at the very least) until you complete your studies.

From a time management perspective, keeping a detailed schedule can also come in handy. Whether you keep a physical planner or a digital calendar, it can help you keep track of your assignment due dates, exam dates and other important deadlines that you’ll need to stay on top of during your graduate studies. By balancing work and study while in grad school, you can breeze through your coursework without slacking in other areas of your life that matter to you.

Ready to Pursue Your Master’s Degree?

There are plenty of strategies for accelerating master’s degree programs, ranging from enrolling in an online master’s program to taking advantage of summer and winter sessions. By following the strategies that work best for you, it is possible to earn a fast-track master’s degree in your field.

Still looking for the online master’s degree program that best suits your professional goals? Park University has you covered with master’s degree programs in a wide range of fields, from business administration and finance to public administration, healthcare administration and more. Looking for an online degree program? Some of our graduate programs are offered online or as a blend of on-campus and online courses, so you can pursue your degree in the format that best suits your schedule.

Explore the many degree programs offered at Park University and get in touch to learn more about your next steps. If you’re interested in learning more about transfer credits or other strategies to accelerate your master’s education, one of our experienced and knowledgeable advisors would be happy to assist you.


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