One Year Master’s Programs: Fast Track Your Goal

Chelsie Trucks recently earned her master's in social work in TROY's Fast Track program and is now a Care Coordinator at East Alabama Health.

Chelsie Trucks recently earned her master's in social work in TROY's Fast Track program and is now a Care Coordinator at East Alabama Health.

When you are in need of a little extra energy but don’t have the time to sit down and grab a leisurely coffee, a shot of espresso can give you the boost you need to get on with the day. In many ways, a fast track one-year master’s program from Troy University is the academic equivalent of a quick, potent slug of caffeine. The quality of the shorter educational “brew” is just as good as a longer more traditional program, and the resulting career boost can be just as powerful.

Dr. Mary Anne Templeton, Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School at TROY, believes accelerated master’s programs offer students more options for achieving a post-graduate degree.

“The one-year master’s programs allow students to fit their graduate education around their lives,” says Dr. Templeton. “They know better than anyone else what they need to balance their professional, personal and educational needs. We just want to give them more choices to make that work.”

At TROY, that level of choice extends across multiple disciplines.

“The accelerated master’s programs are available across all five colleges and many different specialty areas here at TROY,” says Dr. Templeton. “We cover fields as diverse as business administration, criminal justice, education, human resources, management, social work and strategic communications.” Most of the programs are offered online, making it easier for adult learners to access the education they need.

Accelerated Master’s Programs = A Quicker Timeline for Career Impact

Dr. Templeton highlights how the accelerated master’s programs offer the same high-quality professional degrees as the more traditional two-year options.

“It’s the same program,” says Dr. Templeton. “Whether a student elects to take the one-year online master’s program or the more traditional two-year option, the program doesn’t shift for them. The quality of the teaching and the content of the degree are exactly the same.”

The one-year master’s programs are typically delivered over 30 credit hours, with students taking two courses per term to complete the degree in one year.

According to Dr. Templeton, the ease of access and accelerated nature of the programs creates opportunities for adult learners to improve their career advancement or even change careers. Many of the master’s programs at TROY are now test-optional and do not require either the GMAT or GRE for admission, ensuring even faster and smoother access to a post-graduate degree.

“We have a lot of working students taking our accelerated master’s programs,” says Dr. Templeton. “They want that master’s degree for a promotion or perhaps to start a new career, and they don’t want to take a long time to do that. So getting that master’s degree online, and being able to do it in a shorter period of time, helps them reach that goal a lot faster.”

Accelerated Master’s Programs Offer Both Opportunities and Challenges

Studying for an accelerated master’s program is not without its challenges.

“I think it depends on the individual student’s personality,” says Dr. Templeton. “Some people work better in that fast-paced environment. On the other hand, it will mean that others have to make sacrifices in their personal lives to find the time to study in this faster-paced alternative.”

In terms of time management, Dr. Templeton is often impressed by the dedication and commitment of the students in the accelerated programs.

“I’m amazed by what some of our students take on and handle so well with absolute grace and fortitude,” says Dr. Templeton. “Some have children, and others are also taking care of their parents. They’re working full time, and they’re going to school. They just make it work and figure out how to carve out the time they need to do their coursework and manage it all. With our online programs, these students have greater flexibility to do their coursework in the evenings or on the weekends and work around whatever fits best for them.”

Chelsie Trucks recently graduated from TROY with a master’s in social work she earned in the fast track program. She now works as a care coordinator at East Alabama Health. Trucks admits that the accelerated online program was challenging at times but it also offered considerable advantages.

“As a working student, the online program was the only way I was going to be able to complete my master’s degree, so I was thankful I was given the opportunity,” says Trucks. “I was able to find different times to study and watch lessons while I worked during the day.”

While completing a fast track master’s does require determination and commitment, Dr. Templeton is eager to highlight another significant advantage of an accelerated program.

“Because it’s condensed, the classes all build on each other in a more connected way,” says Dr. Templeton. “In that sense, many students find the accelerated programs easier to follow than classes stretched out over a wider timeframe.”

Flexible Online Graduate Programs Can Eliminate Barriers

The flexibility of the online programs allows students who wouldn’t be able to access education any other way to study for a post-graduate degree. Military students who face unique challenges with schedules and deployments can benefit significantly from the flexibility offered by online classes.

“We have many military students who choose online programs,” says Dr. Templeton. “We support our military students 100%. Their schedules are always shifting, so our instructors work with them to ensure they can study wherever they are. In addition, our instructors work with the students so that there’s flexibility built into their coursework.”

This flexible approach also comes into play when students experience issues that delay their educational progress.

“Life happens,” says Dr. Templeton. “People get sent away on work assignments, fall ill or need to take a break for family-related issues. When life gets in the way of education, we’ll work with students to ensure that they reach their goals. You’ll still finish your degree, it’ll just take a little longer to do, and that’s OK.” 

The benefits of the accelerated master’s programs are further enhanced by the ease of access to the various graduate programs offered at TROY.

“There are five terms per year at TROY,” says Dr. Templeton. “That’s two terms per semester and the fifth in the summer. For most accelerated programs, students can begin at any one of those five starting points within the year. This means students are often just weeks away from starting an accelerated program that can aid their career progression.”

A Real University Experience in an Online World

Students in online accelerated master’s benefit from the same social engagement that their peers in campus-based programs enjoy, but perhaps in slightly different ways. In today’s world, thanks to technology, communication and networking are facilitated on many fronts and students can find their “tribe.”

“One of the great things about graduate school is that you get to meet people who want to do exactly the same kind of thing you are doing and are often already working in the field,” says Dr. Templeton. “There are many different opportunities for our online students to connect. It just ‘looks’ different online.”

Dr. Templeton explains that social media plays an essential role in bringing students together.

“On social media, there may be a group that’s specific to a degree where students come together, share ideas and get to know each other. It’s proving to be a great opportunity to meet people that graduates will connect with professionally for years to come.”

Despite the remote format of online learning, Trucks was surprised at how easy it was to build relationships with her fellow students and professors.

“I was also able to build stronger connections with classmates than the ones I had in a traditional campus setting,” says Trucks. “I had a GroupMe messaging app set up with other students in the program to offer advice and guidance. It was very beneficial to me to have that community during such a hectic season of school, work and everyday life responsibilities.”

Building on a Tradition of Excellence in Online Education

Students in the one-year online master’s programs also benefit from TROY’s well-established experience in providing high-quality online education.

“Our students know that we’ve been doing online education much longer than many other institutions, and we do it really well,” says Dr. Templeton. “We care about our online students, and our faculty work hard to get to know their students very well. All of this is supported by a college with a considerable academic history that dates back to 1887.”

TROY’S experience with online education proved especially beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many other colleges and universities to quickly adapt to online learning practices, sometimes with very mixed results. TROY did not have to pivot to a new educational format, they simply built onto an already great online platform.

“You learn a lot in a pandemic or any other kind of emergency situation like that,” says Dr. Templeton. “We know that we are nimble, we can get the job done and we make sure the students get exactly what they need.”

Why Choose a One Year Master’s Program?

According to Dr. Templeton, there are many reasons why a student should consider studying for an accelerated master’s program at TROY.

“Certain professional fields will require a master’s degree,” says Dr. Templeton. “For example, some professional occupations require that an individual have a master’s degree to qualify for licensure. Obviously, things like higher pay, a promotion at work, or consideration for higher positions can be influenced by obtaining a master’s degree. Similarly, if you’re changing jobs, a master’s degree may help get you there.”

Other students seek out a master’s degree because they enjoy the area of study and want to dive into it more deeply.

“They enjoy the topic, and they want to learn more in a formalized way for their personal satisfaction,” says Dr. Templeton.

Many students pursue master’s degrees to hone specific skills, such as leadership skills, that are important to their career advancement in any field. All the TROY fast track master’s place great emphasis on developing leadership skills and strategies. 

Regardless of a student’s motivation for studying in a one-year master’s program, Dr. Templeton insists that employers do not differentiate between accelerated programs and more traditional programs.

“Employers will see no difference in the quality of the degree,” says Dr. Templeton. “For example, if someone is enrolled in the criminal justice program, they’re not enrolled as a one-year versus two-year degree holder. It’s just that they’re taking classes at a faster pace and completing the program sooner. They’re the same courses. You wouldn’t know one from the other.”

Trucks believes that graduating from the one-year master’s program has been highly beneficial to her own career development.

“My master’s degree has helped me become a better leader,” says Trucks. “I have been able to implement critical thinking skills, policies and ethics in my job that my degree has trained and taught me to do. I am thankful for the additional training and hands-on experience that my degree provided me with, so I can help others daily.”

Trucks feels that the quality of the training and education offered in the accelerated master’s program has earned her a great deal of respect from her employer and will create advancement opportunities to spur her career progression.

“I believe that my employer respects my fast track master’s degree as much as any other master’s degree,” says Trucks. “I have been able to show knowledge and evidence of the skills that I have obtained through the program. I’m in a new position due to my new master’s degree. I hope to grow with my career into a director position; however, I know that comes with time. I think my degree will make a difference along with my continued education.”

Trucks recommends TROY to anyone considering pursuing an accelerated path to a master’s degree while juggling other responsibilities.

“TROY gives you the opportunity to make it all possible,” says Trucks. “The relationships you will make with other students and instructors will be ones that you can keep forever. The bonds will make you family. I was thankful enough to have this experience to grow and learn through the online fast track program. I would tell the next person to take a chance for themselves and seek out the opportunity. TROY wants you to succeed and will help you every step of the way.”

Putting Your Goals on a Fast Track

Learn how a one-year master’s program from TROY can create career opportunities and help you build your own successful career development plan by visiting the fast track master’s page on our website.