How to Get a Degree Without Going to University

get a degree
get a degree

Is it possible to earn a degree without stepping foot inside a traditional classroom? With the advancements in technology and the rise of online education, it is now more feasible than ever to obtain a degree without attending a physical school.

The traditional model of attending classes in person and graduating from a brick-and-mortar institution is no longer the only path to higher education.

Online universities and distance learning programs offer flexibility and convenience for students who may not be able to commit to on-campus studies.

If you have been dreaming of earning a degree but are unable to attend a traditional school, there are alternative options available to you. In this article, we will show you how you can achieve your academic goals without physically going to school.

What is a Degree?

A degree is a formal recognition or credential awarded by an educational institution, such as a university or college, to individuals who have completed a specific course of study or program of academic or professional training.

Degrees are typically granted at different levels, each signifying a certain level of educational attainment and expertise. The most common types of degrees include:

Associate Degree

This is typically a two-year degree offered by community colleges or junior colleges. It signifies the completion of a program of study that usually includes general education courses along with courses in a specific field.

Common examples include the Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees.

Bachelor’s Degree

Typically, this is a four-year undergraduate degree awarded by universities and colleges. It represents a higher level of education and specialization compared to an associate degree.

Examples include the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), and many others.

Master’s Degree

This is a graduate-level degree that typically follows the completion of a bachelor’s degree. It usually requires one to two years of additional study and may involve research, coursework, or a combination of both.

Common master’s degrees include the Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.), and Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree is the highest level of academic achievement. It typically requires several years of advanced study, research, and the completion of a doctoral dissertation or thesis.

Common doctoral degrees include the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), and Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.).

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Why Get a Degree?

Getting a degree can open up many opportunities for you. It not only provides you with valuable knowledge and skills in your chosen field, but also demonstrates to potential employers that you are dedicated, disciplined, and capable of completing a long-term goal.

A degree can significantly increase your earning potential and career prospects, giving you a competitive edge in the job market.

Furthermore, pursuing a degree allows you to explore new interests, meet like-minded individuals, and broaden your horizons. It is a chance to challenge yourself intellectually, gain critical thinking abilities, and develop important life skills such as time management and problem-solving.

Getting a degree is an investment in yourself and your future that can lead to personal growth, fulfillment, and success in both your professional and personal life.

Is the University Important?

While a university degree can certainly provide advantages, it’s not an absolute requirement for securing a good-paying job.

In many cases, especially when you’re starting with little to no experience, having a degree can add weight to your resume and make you a more competitive candidate in the job market.

Conversely, if you lack a degree, your qualifications may appear less competitive compared to others who hold degrees, especially for positions that require specialized knowledge.

However, it’s essential to recognize that alternatives to traditional university education have become more accessible and viable.

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What are the Alternative Ways to Get a Degree Without Going to University?

While these alternatives can address various challenges related to traditional campus life, it is important you carefully review these options and assess whether they align with your goals and if they represent the most suitable opportunities for you.

Community Colleges

Community colleges offer associate degrees that can be an excellent starting point for those seeking a more affordable and accessible path to higher education. These two-year institutions often have open enrollment policies and lower tuition costs compared to four-year universities.

You can complete your associate degree at a community college and then transfer to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree if you desire.

Community colleges also provide flexible schedules, including evening and weekend classes, making it easier for working adults to attend classes while maintaining their jobs.

Trade Schools

Not all degrees require a traditional university education. Trade schools and vocational training programs offer specialized training in fields such as construction, automotive technology, culinary arts, and healthcare.

These programs typically result in diplomas, certificates, or associate degrees and can lead to well-paying careers without the need for a traditional bachelor’s degree.

Trade schools and vocational programs are often shorter in duration compared to traditional university programs, which means you can enter the workforce faster and start earning an income sooner.


Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, offering a hands-on approach to learning a trade or profession. Many industries, including construction, manufacturing, and information technology, offer apprenticeship programs that allow you to earn while you learn.

This can lead to nationally recognized certifications and, in some cases, associate or bachelor’s degrees through partnerships with educational institutions. They are an excellent choice for individuals who prefer practical, real-world experience over traditional classroom learning.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

PLA is a process that allows individuals to earn college credit for knowledge and skills gained through work experience, military service, volunteer work, or self-directed study.

Some universities and colleges offer PLA programs that can significantly reduce the time and cost required to complete a degree.

To take advantage of PLA, you’ll need to document your prior learning experiences and work with your chosen institution to determine how many credits you can earn through this method.

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What Happens if I Get a Degree Without Going to a University?

If you obtain a degree without attending a traditional university, you can still enjoy the benefits of higher education and increased career opportunities, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

Accreditation Matters

Ensure that the institution or program from which you earn your degree is accredited by a recognized accrediting body.

Accreditation ensures that the educational institution meets specific standards of quality and that your degree will be recognized by employers and other educational institutions.

Career Opportunities

Many employers value skills and qualifications over the specific path you took to obtain them. However, some professions or organizations may require degrees from accredited institutions or specific certifications. Research the requirements in your desired field to ensure your degree aligns with your career goals.


Many non-traditional education options, such as online programs or self-paced courses, require strong self-discipline and motivation. You’ll need to manage your time effectively and stay committed to your studies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a degree through prior learning assessment?

Yes, some institutions offer the opportunity to earn college credit for knowledge and skills gained through work experience, military service, or self-directed study.

Can I get a degree online?

Yes, many accredited institutions offer online degree programs, providing flexibility for individuals who cannot attend traditional on-campus classes.

Why should I get a degree?

Earning a degree can enhance career opportunities, increase earning potential, provide specialized knowledge and skills, contribute to personal growth, and open doors to a wide range of job prospects.

How long does it take to earn a degree?

– The time it takes to earn a degree varies depending on the program and your schedule but typically ranges from 2-4 years for an undergraduate degree.

Are online degrees as reputable as traditional degrees?

Yes, online degrees from accredited institutions are just as reputable as traditional degrees and are recognized by employers.


Earning a degree without attending a traditional university is a viable option for many individuals seeking higher education.

Whether through online programs, community colleges, vocational schools, or other alternative pathways, the opportunity to gain specialized knowledge and skills while maintaining flexibility has become increasingly accessible.

However, the decision to pursue a non-traditional degree should be carefully considered, taking into account your career goals, financial situation, and preferred learning style.



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