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Online Degrees That Can Be Earned in One or Two Years

by Dr. Mary Dowd, studioD

Online degrees can put you on the fast track to an interesting and secure career. Because online degrees are flexible, convenient and available in a wide range of fields, they are ideally suited to busy adults seeking new skills or a job change. Many programs are closely aligned with current workforce needs, which increases your chances of finding related employment upon graduation.

Nuclear Technology

You can enter the high-paying field of nuclear technology after about two years of accredited online instruction. The typical nuclear technician holds an associate degree and earns a median annual salary of $68,090, according to 2010 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data. Accredited online programs at schools such as Bismarck State College prepare students to work safely in nuclear power plants and laboratories. Bismarck State’s Associate in Applied Science degree in nuclear power technology is a four-semester curriculum.


If you follow fashion trends and have a flair for style, you may enjoy online training in fashion merchandising. This major is often available at the associate-degree level, which is typically completed within two years. The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York is an example of a school that provides an online curriculum that prepares students for careers in the fashion world. Students who enter FIT with 30 college credits can complete an Associate of Applied Science degree in Fashion Merchandise Management in one year.


An aptitude for computers can help you land a lucrative job in the high-demand field of information technology in two years or less. For instance, computer analysts without a bachelor’s degree earn an average annual salary of $82,320, as reported in 2013 by "USA Today." At schools like Southern New Hampshire University, students in the online computer IT program learn to develop software and troubleshoot information systems. To earn an Associate of Science degree, full-time SNHU students complete 38 core credits and 12 credits of general electives over two years.

Criminal Justice

If a job in the justice system appeals to you, online training programs in criminal justice offered at schools like Florida Tech can prepare you to work in correctional services in under 20 months. Florida Tech students can earn an Associate of Arts degree by taking classes such as delinquency, victimology and the psychology of criminal behavior. Credits earned through accredited online programs can often be applied toward a bachelor’s degree in correction if advanced study is desired.

Early Childhood Education

If you like working with children, an online degree in early childhood education may be a good fit for you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2010 and 2020, the demand for preschool teachers will grow faster than average compared to other occupations. Ivy Tech Community College is an example of a school that offers an online associate of applied science degree in early childhood education that can be completed in four semesters.

About the Author

Mary Dowd holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master's degree in counseling and student personnel from Minnesota State University, Mankato. In her 20 years of higher education experience, she has taught classes, served as interim dean of students, and worked in many areas of student affairs, including student discipline, career advising, orientation and violence prevention.

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