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WRITTEN BY: Kenya McCullum
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REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 02/07/2024

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Are you interested in pursuing a career in health science? Maybe you want to contribute to your community by caring for patients directly, or maybe you want to implement the policies and practices that influence how care is delivered. Maybe you see yourself pioneering advancements in the field by conducting healthcare research. Regardless of what your career aspirations are, earning an accelerated health science degree online can help you achieve them.

Health science is the study of the health and medical care of human beings who are sick or unhealthy. The field is so broad that earning a degree in the field opens a variety of career options to you. Moreover, earning an accelerated health science degree online can help you pursue those options quickly and efficiently, without breaking the bank.

Keep reading to learn more about these programs, including insights into the pros and cons of pursuing accelerated degrees and a list of the best accelerated health science degrees available to help you know what to look for as you begin to research the right one for you.

Accelerated health science degree programs offered online prepare you for a career in the fastest, most efficient way possible. But given the intense time commitment these programs require, you want to make sure the school you choose is going to give you exactly what you need. To help you choose from among the hundreds of schools around the country that offer health science degree programs, we have put together the following profiles of top schools. Even if these aren’t right for you, the profiles below will help you recognize what to look for as you continue your search.

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University offers an entirely online Bachelor of Science in Health Studies for students who aspire to become clinical managers, care coordinators, disability rights advocates, and community health coordinators. This online health science degree is also ideal for students looking to build a foundation for future graduate studies. Students can move through the program at an accelerated pace by transferring up to 90 of the requisite 120 credit hours. The program’s curriculum provides students with an understanding of how the healthcare system works; strategies for delivering care in diverse communities; social problems impacting how healthcare facilities run; and the ethical standards healthcare professionals are expected to follow.

Students have the opportunity to choose from the Professional or Non-Professional Track depending on their academic backgrounds and aspirations. The Professional Track is designed for students who have previously earned a degree in an allied health field while the Non-Professional Track is designed for students who have this neither prior training nor an interest in pursuing clinical positions in the field.

To help online learners succeed, Arkansas State University offers several student resources, including online writing, math, and career centers. The school also offers scholarships to help students defray their tuition costs, which are set at $276 per credit.

Rasmussen University

Students who enroll in Rasmussen University’s Health and Wellness Online Bachelor’s Degree program are able to take their education into their own hands in several ways. For example, students can enroll in the program’s Accelerated Master’s Pathway, which allows them to complete up to four master’s-level classes as they work toward their bachelor’s degree. This helps students gain advanced knowledge as undergraduates, and complete their master’s degree in just one year of additional. This accelerated path allows students to save between $2,820 and $3,300 on their tuition as well.

Students also have the choice to accelerate their studies by earning credit for prior learning — including military service and professional certifications — through self-directed assessments. Finally, Rasmussen University offers Empowered Learning™, a competency-based education model that allows students to work on courses at their own pace and complete projects to demonstrate their understanding of course material.

Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University offers an accelerated Health Sciences BS/Nutrition and Dietetic Practice MS program that allows students to complete both degrees in roughly four-and-a-half years. During the first three years of their studies, students build a foundational understanding in sciences and humanities to prepare them for the advanced coursework of the diet and nutrition curriculum. Students are required to take classes in bioorganic chemistry, anatomy and physiology, calculus, and biology.

As they progress through the latter part of their studies, students dive into nutrition coursework, including classes in medical nutrition therapy, management in nutrition, integrative nutrition, and food science. These classes are designed to prepare students to provide evidence-based, inclusive, and ethical care to patients in diverse communities. By the time they complete the program, graduates have the skills and knowledge necessary to work as entry-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs).

Is an Accelerated Program Right for You?

Accelerated health science degree programs can be beneficial for students who can handle the challenges that come with them. However, they’re not necessarily right for everyone. To help you evaluate whether an online health science degree is suited to your specific lifestyle and needs, we have answered some of the most common questions prospective students have about these programs.

Am I confident navigating online platforms and troubleshooting challenges independently?

Accelerated health science degrees offered online can be convenient, but if you’re not accustomed to virtual learning environments, you may have a difficult time finding your footing. From navigating the learning management system, to using web conferencing software, to understanding the expectations of participation in online lectures, enrolling in an accelerated health sciences program online can present a steep learning curve for those accustomed to traditional classroom settings.

But don’t rule out the possibility of earning an accelerated health science degree online just yet — keep in mind that although you’ll be required to quickly familiarize yourself with the technology used in your program, you’re won’t be entirely alone when you do so. Many schools offer tips on how to be successful in online learning environments, as well as tech support for additional assistance.

Can I make the financial commitment to an accelerated program?

Although shaving off the amount of time you spend in school is a huge benefit associated with online accelerated health science degree programs, financing your education may still be a concern. Finishing your degree faster can save you money compared to what you would pay in a traditional program, but the costs can still add up quickly. Depending on the school, there may be less financial aid available for students earning an accelerated health science degree. As you explore your options, be sure to research what types of financing you qualify for, including grants and scholarships.

Do I have personal or professional commitments?

Earning a degree while balancing personal and professional obligations is already a challenge. Doing so in an accelerated health science degree program online is all the more difficult because of the demanding workload you’ll be required undertake. If you want to complete your degree while still working full time, it may make more sense to enroll in a regular four-year program to ensure that no area of your life suffers because of your schedule.

Have I met the higher prerequisite requirements associated with accelerated programs?

Accelerated health science programs online don’t slow down for anyone. If you haven’t completed the prerequisite courses that will allow you to keep up with the accelerated pace you will soon find yourself falling behind. As you explore accelerated health science degrees, be sure to familiarize yourself with each program’s expectations. Have you already completed the coursework required for admission? If not, you should factor in the time and expense involved in meeting these requirements

What are my long-term goals?

Before committing to an accelerated health science degree online, be sure that you’ve really thought about what your long-term career goals are and how this program will help you get to where you want to go. If you think you may pivot into another direction, consider very carefully if an online accelerated health science degree is the right path for you. Alternatively, if beginning your career quickly is not paramount to your goals, taking your time to explore material in greater depth at a slower pace may be beneficial.

What is my learning style?

Do you learn best when you have a hands-on task to work on? Do visual tools help you better retain information? Do recorded lectures allow you to absorb information more easily? Considering your learning style and whether an accelerated health science degree online can accommodate it is paramount. Think about the way you process information best to decide which type of program you’ll be most successful in.

Strategies for Accelerating Your Health Science Degree

Accelerated health science degree programs offered online are already designed to help you move through your studies at a faster pace than you would in a traditional program, but there are strategies you can use to earn your degree even faster. Review the tips below to find out how you can save even more time and money while earning an accelerated health science degree.

Choose a Specialization Early

When earning an accelerated health science degree online, time is of the essence. You don’t have a lot of time to waste, so you want to make sure you go into the program with a plan, which will include what specialization you want to pursue. From patient care to administration to policy, health science has numerous specializations that prepare you for the specific career you want to pursue. Understanding what you want to achieve after finishing an accelerated health science degree will help you choose your specialization early, so you don’t waste time by changing your focus later or taking courses that aren’t relevant to your area of interest.

Consider a Dual Enrollment Degree Program

Dual enrollment degree programs allow you to take courses at multiple levels of education at once — some programs allow high school students to take for-credit courses that count toward both their high school diploma and college degree, while others allow undergraduate students to take master’s level courses. Dual enrollment programs not only help students get a head start on an accelerated health science degree, but also make the transition to more advanced coursework easier.

Explore Credit by Exam Options & Competency-Based Programs

The knowledge and experience you bring with you into an accelerated health science degree program online can be extremely valuable. Instead of repeating classes you’ve already taken or working through course content on skills you already have, credit by exam options and competency-based programs allow you to earn credit by demonstrating what you already know. Credit by exam options allow you to take tests to demonstrate these skills and advance in your degree program. Similarly, competency-based programs allow you to move quickly through shorter courses, engage in optional academic support activities, and sit for competency assessments when you feel adequately prepared to demonstrate your knowledge.

Transfer Credits

If you’ve already earned a degree, transferring as many credits as you can is another effective way to shorten the time you spend in an accelerated online health science degree program. Schools have different maximum credits that can be transferred, so be sure to review the policies of each school you’re interested in and factor this into your decision-making process.

Pros and Cons of an Accelerated Health Science Program

Accelerated health science degrees can put you on the fast track to a meaningful career, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. As with all degree programs, accelerated health science degrees offered online have advantages and drawbacks; to give you a realistic look at these programs, we outline these below.

Pro: Focused Cohort Experience

One of the benefits of an accelerated health science degree online is that these programs generally use a cohort model, where students admitted at the same time move through the curriculum together. This allows students to support each other throughout the program; collaborate; and build connections that will serve as the foundation of their professional networks for years to come.

Pro: Immersive Learning

Since students spend a short amount of time in accelerated health science degree programs, the curriculum is condensed to emphasize the most important concepts and skills students need to know. As a result, you’ll be able to dive into the subject matter quickly and intensively without spending time on unnecessary fluff.

Pro: Quick Degree Completion

Whether you’re working toward earning a single degree or are enrolled in a dual degree program, accelerated online health science degrees can save you a considerable amount of time. As a result, you will be able to start your job hunt sooner.

Con: High Workload and Intensity

The downside of being able to complete your degree in such a short period of time is the intensity of the workload. Accelerated health science degrees require a huge time commitment. You can expect hefty reading assignments and numerous tests, so strong time management skills will be vital to your ability to juggle your courses. You may also have very little time off, so opportunities for rest will be few and far between.

Con: Limited Time for In-Depth Exploration

While earning an accelerated health science degree online is a great way to gain the foundational skills you need to launch your career, it is not ideal for gaining expertise in a specific healthcare topic. The intensive accelerated timeline means there simply isn’t time to cover niche material in an in-depth way.

Con: Reduced Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is always a concern for busy students and professionals, so if you’re already walking the tightrope between your personal and professional lives, know that an accelerated degree program can make that balancing act more difficult. Accelerated health science degrees delivered online provide little room for flexibility, so look at what you have on your plate now and decide if there’s room for such an immense commitment.