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What is an Adult Degree Completion Program?

By Cece Gilmore

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Reviewed by Bill Jack

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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Updated: February 21st, 2023
What is an Adult Degree Completion Program?

Earning a college degree does not have an age limit. If you have earned credits at a college or university, but never completed your degree, an adult degree completion program can help you get back on track! An adult degree completion program allows you to finish your degree with a flexible schedule in an efficient timeframe. 

Who are adult degree completion programs for? 

Adult degree completion programs are especially for students who started college but never completed their degrees. The majority of students who are a part of an adult degree completion program are adults returning to college to finish their degree. 

What exactly is an adult degree completion program? 

Adult degree completion programs aim to make finishing college less daunting for non-traditional students. The majority of students in adult degree completion programs are adults who likely have other commitments. This includes full-time jobs and families to care for. Many adult degree completion programs are online or utilize a hybrid format. This allows for flexibility in the student’s routines, allowing them to balance their work, personal, and school obligations.

Related: Top scholarships for adults

What are the benefits of an adult degree completion program over a traditional undergraduate classroom setting? 

If returning to complete your bachelor’s degree is something you are considering, it is important to understand the benefits of an adult degree completion program in comparison to a traditional undergraduate university setting. An adult degree completion program caters towards adults returning to complete their degree. Some of the benefits include:

  • Online or hybrid formats to ensure that students can work around their busy work and life schedules
  • Taking classes with adults with similar experiences rather than traditional-aged college students
  • Specialized support to stay focused on earning a degree as an adult learner with unique needs and responsibilities 

Student Voices

I wish I had researched adult degree completion programs when I went back to school as an adult. Rather than taking classes with traditional-age college students at a brick and mortar suburban college, I could have taken online classes and saved a lot of travel time. I also could have possibly earned college credits for work and life experience through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). I would have had the opportunity to test out of introductory college courses by using my existing knowledge.
Maria Geiger

Scholarships360 Director of Content

Earned both her BA and MA from Monmouth University as an adult student

What should a quality adult degree completion program have? 

Generous credit transfer

A quality adult degree completion program should have a generous credit transfer policy. This means that the program should take most, if not all of previously earned credits from a different university towards earning your degree. This ensures that you do not have to retake classes taken previously. 

Related: How long are college credits good for?

Schedule flexibility

Flexibility is arguably the most important aspect an adult degree completion program should have. Flexibility ensures that course completion works around your schedule. Therefore, having a job, children, or any other circumstances should not be an obstacle when earning your degree. Therefore, a good adult degree completion program should offer online or hybrid class formats. This ensures that adults have the flexibility to complete their classes without putting their life on hold. 

Quality resources

Adult degree completion programs should be taken at accredited colleges and universities. These schools are more likely to offer vital resources that ensure you are receiving the best education possible. Some examples of quality resources a good adult degree completion program should have include: 

  • Library (including online) access to books and textbooks
  • An easy-to-use learning management system (LMS) to view grades and feedback on assignments
  • A support system for the unique needs of adult learners 

Helpful staff

If your adult degree completion program is online or hybrid, it is important to have helpful professors, teaching assistants (TAs), and university employees available to help in any situation. For example, having a 24/7 tech number to call in case your computer is not loading the material correctly is vital. In addition, having a responsive professional who is looking out for your best interest can help push you to finish your degree. 

Also see: Top scholarships for moms and single moms

What colleges offer adult degree completion programs? 

Adult degree completion programs are offered at various colleges and universities across the United States. If you would like a list to get started, check out the Abound: Finish College website. The colleges are listed by state and whether the programs are  online or face to face. Before enrolling in any college or university, it is important to do your research. While juggling a job and family, it is especially important to find the right fit. 

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Students who want to earn a previously started degree program can enroll in adult degree programs
  • Adult degree programs offer flexibility for adult students and their unique needs
  • Many adult degree programs offer online and hybrid formats to accommodate adults students who work and/or have families 
  • Colleges and universities that offer adult degree programs are available across the United States
Key Takeaways

Don’t miss: Top scholarships for nontraditional students

Frequently asked questions about adult degree programs

How are adult degree programs different from traditional college programs?

The main difference is in the program formatting: Adult degree programs are formatted specifically for adults who are balancing higher education with careers and families.

Can I receive financial aid for adult degree programs if I am over a certain age?

A student’s age is not considered when applying for financial aid. Remember, all financial aid starts with filling out the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA), so if you are even thinking about college, get started!

What is required when applying for adult degree programs?

Applicants will most likely need to submit all transcripts from any colleges attended. If applicable, applicants should also include any military or work experience credits earned. 

Do adult degree programs accept CLEP (College Level Examination Program) credits?

Whether a particular college or university accepts CLEP credit depends on the individual institution. Check out this searchable database of CLEP college credit policies at individual institutions.

Also see: Who is considered an adult learner?

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