A business information degree can provide access to high-paying jobs in fields such as information technology and computer networking. However, it can take as long as four years or more to earn a Bachelor's degree in the program. If you're trying to change careers or just anxious to get school over and done with, there are some things you can do to speed up the process. Here are three things that may help you graduate early.

Get Credit for Life Experience

If you've been working for a long time or done quite a bit of independent study on topics relevant to a business information degree, one option for graduating faster is to get credit for your life experience. Schools that offer this privilege typically have students submit portfolios detailing their work experiences, skills, and knowledge so the school can match it to the equivalent college courses and award credit. This is an excellent way to get a head start on your degree, and you could save thousands of dollars in tuition costs as a bonus.

Be aware, though, that many schools require you to complete one or two courses that teach you how to prepare your portfolio to their standards. The courses may be completed on-campus or through a distance-learning program and is something you must pay for like any other class. It may also take a bit of time for the school to evaluate your portfolio, but you may be able to work around this by talking to your advisor to see which courses you may be awarded credit for and take other classes while you're waiting.

Second, the school may limit the number of credits you earn via the life experience program. For instance, one school lets you use life experience credits for up to 75 percent of your degree. Another school only lets students earn up to 30 credit points. Each college is different, so consult with an administrator at your school for more information about its requirements and restrictions.

Challenge Courses

If your school doesn't have a life experience program, you can still use your existing skills and knowledge to your advantage. Many schools provide students with the ability to challenge courses. Instead of going to class every day, you take an exam testing your knowledge about the subject, and you're awarded credit for the class if you pass. This lets you avoid sitting through a course that may be redundant for you and quickly advance to the next required class.

The process for challenging a college course varies from school to school, and may involve getting the approval of the dean or chairperson who heads the degree program. Additionally, there is typically a fee for the test. This cost is usually less than you would pay if you actually registered for the course. For instance, the University of Utah charges $50 per petition for credit by examination. However, some schools do charge the full amount it would have cost to take the class. Luckily, you can use your financial aid to pay these fees.

Go to Summer School

The third option is to skip vacation and take courses during the summer months. Almost all schools offer a limited selection of courses students can take during summer. Some colleges even offer distance-learning courses, so you can still go on vacation as long as you take your computer with you so you can access the courses online.

A bonus to taking summer courses is, in addition to helping you get your degree faster, some schools charge less for summer classes. So you may even save some money in the process.

There may be other options for shortening the amount of time it takes to get your business information degree. Talk to an advisor at your school for more information about available options and help taking advantage of them.