Some of my favorite institutions lay out the college’s degree requirements and let the student fulfill these by means of transferred courses from other accredited institutions, credit by examination, credits for professional licensure, credit by life experience portfolio or from just about any program that has been evaluated by the American Council on Education. This type of program can be completed at the student’s own pace and generally provides the quickest and most affordable path to an accredited college degree. See Earn Your Degree.
In traditional colleges and universities, the most common way to earn credits has been to attend classes for two to four days a week during a three – four month semester. Each class generally yields three semester hour credits. Most Bachelor degrees require a minimum of 120 semester hours of credit. With this formula it typically takes the full time student 4 years to attend 5 classes a semester for 8 semesters. Part time students can easily take 8-10 years to complete a degree. This can be both time consuming and expensive and just isn’t an option for most working adults and certainly isn’t a path that I would recommend.
My preferred method of obtaining credits is first to evaluate any previous college transcripts that you have. In most cases, all of the credits you have earned can apply to your degree if choose one of the “Big Three” colleges that are compatible with testing out of your entire degree. I recommend this to avoid losing previously hard earned credits when transferring between institutions.