What are Fast Track courses?
Alistair Stafford

What are Fast Track courses?

Fast Track FAQs

First published date November 25 2013 Amended date October 05 2015

Many of us will have wanted to take a course or study a subject we’re interested in, but will have been unable to do so due to lack of time and money. But, for many industry and career paths, there’s now a way to get that dream qualification in a quicker time - by signing up to a fast track course.

Whether it is an NVQ, a diploma or a degree, a fast track course essential allows you complete a course in a smaller amount of time than you’d normally be able to. Sound something like you’d be interested in? Our Fast Track FAQs will help you decide if it’s the route for you...


How can I study a fast track course?

Many fast track courses can be studied full time, although if you’re looking to gain a new qualification around your work and other commitments, there are part time fast track programmes available. Some qualifications can be studied fast track online, meaning you can complete your course at a time, location and speed to suit you.


What type of qualifications can I gain from the fast track route?

It depends on where you’re looking to study and which course you’re interested in doing, but generally most levels of qualification are available to be studied through the fast track route. A Level fast track programmes allow students to gain a full A Level in half the time (or sometimes less), while fast track NVQ’s are also offered at many institutions across the country.


Do all industries have accredited fast track courses available?

No, although there are more that do than you’d probably think. The NCTJ, the training body for journalists, accredit several 20-week fast track courses as an alternative to a three year undergraduate course or a year long masters.  There are plenty of other industries, including Law and Business, which offer similar programmes for students.


What other fast track programmes are available?

One of the most common fast track courses is an intensive driving course. Rather than have lots of lessons drawn out over a few month period, an intensive programme offers someone the chance to learn everything needed about driving and gain their driving licence in just five days. The cost usually works out similar to if you’d learnt to drive the more traditional route, but just means you can hit the road within days after getting behind the wheel for the first time.


Do all fast track courses get you a job?

Be wary when selecting the course, as they don’t always leave you with the qualifications you were expecting, just a massive hole in your pocket. One common area for this is the manual trade, where plumbers and bricklayers can sometimes spend large sums of money on fast track courses, only to not get the qualifications and ‘guaranteed work’ they were expecting. It’s always worth checking that a course is accredited by an industry body, as if it’s recognised then it’s more likely to help you get that all important first career break.


Can you take a fast track course when studying for a degree?

Whereas an undergraduate degree usually takes three or four years to complete, a fast track programme means that you can gain the same level of qualification in just two years. By increasing the number of modules you study each year and making each semester longer, it allows you to graduate from an honours programme even quicker! An increasing number of universities are offering this option to their students.


What advantages does a fast track degree have?

A fast track course not only reduces the length of time you need to study, but also significantly cuts the cost of university education. Taking a year less to complete your course can save you up to £9,000 in tuition fees, plus the additional accommodation and living costs a third (or fourth) year at uni would bring. By finishing your degree at least a year earlier than your peers of the same age, it also gives you an advantage when it comes to breaking into full time employment ahead of them.


What about the negatives of a fast track degree?

To condense the course into as little time as possible, more modules are crammed into each term, increasing the amount of tuition time you have as well as the level of out of hours studying you’ll need to do. Many of the modules will overrun in to the summer months, meaning you’ll be still hitting the books while your friends are hitting the beach, severely reducing your amount of holiday time. All that extra studying will severely hamper your social life, which means you may miss out on the student lifestyle that is often referred to as the ‘best years of your life’.


Alistair Stafford

With a BA in Journalism, Alistair has a passion for writing, especially if it's got anything to do with football or other sports. In his spare time, he's big on exercise and he once completed the London Marathon.