How to Choose a Degree Completion Program

Degree completion student

Whether you started your college education five years ago or 25 years ago, a degree completion program could be your solution to finishing your degree. Often, the most difficult part is making the decision to return to school. After all, a college degree does not come easy. But now that you have made that decision, it’s time to think about what type of program is right for you.
Let’s take a look at some of the things to consider when choosing a degree completion program:


Do you know someone else who has completed a degree completion program? Ask them what their experience was like. Know someone who attended one of the schools you are looking at? Talk to them about it—even if they did a different program. Often, the reputation of a school changes little across programs.

Transferable Credits

You’ve decided to pursue a degree completion program (instead of traditional undergrad) because you have already completed a significant number of credits. Make those credits count. Before you start looking at schools, obtain a copy of your transcript and know what you have already completed.
As you start to investigate programs, ask which of your credits will transfer. There’s no guarantee that all credits will transfer at every school, so inquiring about this early can help you decide which program will be best for you. You should also look into potential credits for your life experience offered by some schools.

Online vs. On-Campus

In today’s world, we can do almost everything online, and this includes earning a college degree. For some, this is great news, while others still prefer the traditional classroom setting. One is not better than the other, and in many instances, it comes down to personal preference.
While an online program may be more convenient, an on-campus class enables you to have face-to-face interaction with your peers and professors. If you are considering the on-campus route, how important is location to you? If you want your commute to be an hour or less away, that criteria will dramatically narrow your search.

Class Schedule

Whether you decide to take courses online or on a college campus, each program has its own schedule. The length of each course depends on the program. Ask the admissions office what the class schedule looks like. Does it fit with your already busy schedule? Consider not only how long each course will be and how often it will meet, but also how often courses are offered. If you need to take a semester off, will you need to wait a year or more for a course to be offered again?

Program Length

Inquire early on about the length of the program. Many programs have a window of time that the typical student is able to complete the program in. If you have a goal in mind, make sure the program you are looking at will help you accomplish that goal. Can you choose how many courses to take at a time, allowing you to either shorten or lengthen the time it takes to complete the program?

Alumni Outcomes

Look at the stories and stats on graduates for degree completion programs. Is there a high percentage of employment after graduation? Do graduates get jobs in their fields of study? Make sure that the program you are interested in will help you get where you want to go.
Thinking through these key factors can help you discover which school and program are right for you. It may seem like hard work at first, but it will pay off when you find the program that is exactly what you are looking for. As you go through this process, don’t forget to use the admissions team at each school as a tool and resource—they are there to help.
Cairn University, located in Langhorne, PA offers a degree completion program designed to teach students in an accelerated and accessible format so students can earn the credits they need to complete a bachelor’s degree in a little over two years. A modular schedule allows students to focus on one course at a time, and attend class just one day a week. Learn more at


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