A short guide to what two-year degrees are all about

two-year degree
If you choose a two-year degree, you'll be sprinting through your modules and materials. Source: AFP

University isn’t easy. There are many challenges that come with it. From chasing deadlines, completing assignments and worrying about your finances, these three or four years will test what you’re made of.

What if there was a faster way for you to achieve that degree?

Enter two-year degrees.

While UK universities usually offer three-year degrees, there are several institutions that offer accelerated versions of them. 

Thus, three-year degrees become two-year degrees. But first, is this really the best option for you? 

Why should you choose a two-year degree?

1. A two-year degree is cheaper

While your annual tuition fee will be higher than that of a three- or four-year degree, you still pay a lot less at the end of the day. 

This is because you will be saving the cost on a whole year of tuition fees and living costs. 

The cost of a two-year accounting and finance degree at The University of Buckingham costs around 40,968 pounds, while a three-year accounting course at the London School of Economics costs around 76,968 pounds

2. A two-year degree is just as impactful

By covering the same modules and materials, this option equips you just as well with the necessary expertise in a field.

But while you’ll still have three semesters per academic year, you’ll have either no or shorter breaks in between. It’s likely you’ll be studying through summer while your friends go on a three-month vacation.

3. You get to start working faster

Starting work earlier comes with a whole suite of perks. 

For example, you’re younger and are more energetic, allowing you to work longer and make an impression on your bosses.

Not every field requires long hours, but there are some, like law and investment banking, that are famously known for working past the usual 9-to-5 (and paying graduates up to US$100,000 per year). 

Choosing this shorter route means you start earning money sooner too.

two-year degree

Two-year degrees typically include little to no time for summer holidays. Source: AFP

Five best two-year degrees in the UK for international students

1. The University of Buckingham 

The University of Buckingham believes in delivering high-quality education while giving students the autonomy to design their own academic pathways. 

Here, students can choose to complete the range of two-year degrees offered to give them a headstart to their success. The courses offered include accounting and finance, business, computing, economics, English literature, law, psychology and many more. 

Students can choose from the two-year honours degree, which is equivalent to that of a traditional degree but will be completed in a shorter time.  

“The two-year degree has already helped me boost my performance academically, as well as enabling me to be curious outside of my studies. My studies in computing at the university have helped to further improve my skills with practical knowledge, which will be useful in my future career,” shares computing student Thomas Humphreys.

The other option is to complete a two-year flexible honours degree, where students have the opportunity to customise their programme by combining different subjects across a few areas, from history to economics. 

two-year degree

A two-year degree lets you start work earlier, a headstart which is likely to increase your earning potential. Source: AFP

2. Staffordshire University 

Staffordshire University offers excellent facilities, a rigorous curriculum and a diverse student population. But that’s not all that makes this university unique.

At Staffordshire, students have the option of choosing two-year accelerated degrees to get a fast-tracked route to their careers. 

To ensure that you complete the course in two years, you will not get summer holidays and will instead continue your course from home with the flexible learning and support programmes offered. 

While you will have to work harder to complete your course in a shorter amount of time, you will graduate with the same qualification and be able to further your studies after. 

In fact, many students choose to complete a master’s degree, which means they would earn both qualifications in just three years. 

Students choosing these courses will save up to 10,000 pounds on tuition fees and living costs. A three-year degree costs 53,040 pounds inclusive of tuition fees and living costs, while a two-year degree costs 13,980. 

 Find out more about the two-year accelerated degrees offered by Staffordshire University here

two-year degree

Some two-year degrees even include a placement where you get to apply theory to practice in a real work setting. Source: AFP

3. University of Greenwich 

The University of Greenwich offers an intensive two-year accelerated degree focused on preparing aspiring teachers for a career in the field. 

The primary education studies degree will equip students with the current practices used in primary schools and early-year settings. 

This course combines theory and practice. For the theory portion, all subjects in this course will be taught by specialists who have experience in the field of primary education.

For practice, students will be taking on school-based placements. Find out more here

4. University of Gloucestershire

The University of Gloucestershire is another university in the UK offering two-year degrees for international students.

The two-year accelerated fast-track degrees allow you to enjoy the full university experience while getting a head start on your career at a lower price. 

If you feel this accelerated option is not for you, you can switch to a three-year degree course during the first year. 

The university equips each student with a personal tutor to guide them through their programme.

Students also benefit from the many global opportunities that the university offers. This includes working with big brands and travelling the globe while gaining work experience. 

Graduates of the two-year degree at the university boast a high employability rate, with 92% of students finding employment within six months

The University of Gloucestershire offers two programmes under their accelerated fast-track degrees:

“As a fast-track student, I completed my degree in two years – a pace made achievable by the well-structured degree at Gloucestershire, involving some concentrated work in the summer but leaving enough time to enjoy the vacation period. The programme was interesting, challenging and enjoyable and opened doors that I never knew existed,” shares Geography student Graham Rush.

Visit the university’s website to find out more.

5. Birmingham City University 

The two-year degree offered at Birmingham City University is unique as its programmes focus on the video game industry. 

The two-year fast-track undergraduate honours degree is designed to prepare students with the skills and knowledge for a successful career in the gaming industry. 

The three programmes offered are:

The university partners with companies such as Sony Interactive Entertainment, Codemasters, Red Bee Media and Sapient Nitro, who are searching for experienced graduates to join them. 

The programmes are designed to prepare students for a career at those companies and similar ones.

The curriculum, combined with the summer in-house placement, provides students with the theories and real studio experience needed to excel in this industry. 

Check out the two-year fast-track undergraduate honours degrees offered by Birmingham City University. 

two-year degree

Why wait three years to receive your degree when these best two-year degrees are cheaper and better for your career?  Source: AFP

Frequently asked questions about two-year degree courses: 

1. What is the easiest two-year degree to get?

How easy or how hard something is depends on each individual. However, it’s widely considered that the easiest two-year degree is a Liberal Arts degree. 

Much of this could be because it’s flexible, allowing student to pick modules they’re strong in. 

A Liberal Arts degree typically covers a wide range of topics, including history, arts, sciences and business. 

2. What are the advantages of a two-year degree?

There are a number of advantages to choosing a two-year degree. That includes:

  • More affordable: A two-year degree costs a fraction of the price of a traditional degree; this includes the tuition fees and living expenses
  • High-paying job: Though a shorter course, many who graduate from a two-year degree programme still secure successful jobs that pay well
  • More focused: A two-year course is typically more focused on a single field to build students’ knowledge and skills in that area
  • Early entry into the workforce: For those who don’t want to wait four years to start earning, a two-year degree is the perfect route. Students will be able to join the workforce and gain work experience earlier
two-year degree

Most two-year degrees exclude internships, placements or research opportunities. This is a disadvantage as you could miss out from meeting important people in your career or study abroad journey. Source: AFP

3. What are the disadvantages of a two-year degree?

Though the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, there are several drawbacks to a two-year degree course. That includes:

  • You’ll miss out on the university experience: University is so much more than a place to get a degree. This is where you’ll meet friends for life and important connections. Missing out on a year could mean you won’t meet and socialise with as many people to build these relationships.
  • Limited course offerings: The number of two-year degree programmes offered is limited. If you want to pursue a career in medicine or engineering, a three-year bachelor’s programme is your only option.

4. What is the difference between a two-year degree and a traditional degree?

The biggest difference between a two-year degree and a traditional degree is the time taken to complete the programme. 

A two-year degree is a shorter route to earning the necessary skills and knowledge needed. A traditional degree, on the other hand, can take up to three or four years to complete. 

5. Can I do my master’s after a two-year degree?

Once you complete your two-year degree, you can choose to immediately join the workforce or further your education.

For those who choose to further their education, completion of a two-year degree does allow you to enrol in a master’s programme.