It would save both time and money. But could they handle the pressure?

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Accelerated programs, which are now being offered at several New Jersey colleges and universities, put students on the fast track to graduation — and, ideally, a career.

The appeal to students is obvious: A quicker path to graduation means fewer dollars spent on tuition and less time spent earning a degree. But the fast-paced approach is not for everyone.

Brand new accelerated programs have been unveiled for Rider University's incoming freshman class. Under the new plans, undergraduates can achieve a three-year bachelor's degree in business administration, or achieve both a bachelor's and master's degree in four years in certain areas of business.

These programs join the already-existing four-plus-one program offered by Rider in the business school, which helps students achieve a bachelor's and master's degree in five years.

According to university president Gregory Dell'Omo, such programs are geared more towards highly-motivated, academically-prepared high school seniors.

"Your SATs have to be a little bit higher and your high school GPA has to be a little bit higher," Dell'Omo said. "Because it really does take a motivated person to work through that schedule. It's a fast-paced program."

Adding to the programs' appeal, they each come with a guaranteed tuition rate that will not increase from year to year.

The current undergrad tuition rate at Rider for a traditional four-year degree is $37,650 per year. The three-year accelerated program has a locked-in annual rate of $23,000.

Accelerated programs in New Jersey, for the most part, are offered at the graduate level.

At Montclair State University, graduate students have their choice of two 14-month programs that result in a master's degree: dance and educational leadership.

"We issue a certification for principal and superintendent, and it leads directly to the potential for a promotion," said Peter McAliney, executive director of Montclair's online programs and extended learning.

Nursing is a popular field for accelerated programs at many of the state's institutions. They're made available to students who already have a bachelor's degree.

According to New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities CEO Michael Klein, new proposals for three-year year-round degrees are "just getting started," and the association looks forward "to tracking their success."

"Our institutions are national leaders in helping our students attain their degrees as quickly and as affordably as possible, while maintaining quality," Klein said.

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