So, you’ve decided you want to do a masters degree, but you don’t really want to go back to university and study it on campus. There could be any number of reasons why – a partner, a family, a job, or even just simply not wanting to go back to living onsite.
Luckily, more and more universities are recognising this as something students may want to do, and offer masters degrees online. Online study isn’t for everyone, so if you’re considering this you need to make sure it suits you .Find your PERFECT POSTGRAD PROGRAM
Obviously, it would be difficult to get a lab-focused research degree online, so the courses available are limited by practicality, but there are many options out there. There are even some science courses, although they tend towards the theoretical over the practical.
So, what advantages are there to doing a masters degree online? Firstly, there’s the fact you don’t need to change your entire life to do one – there’s no moving, finding accommodation or any of the usual more unsettling aspects of going to university involved. This is particularly useful for those with careers or families, and mature students who don’t necessarily fancy student life again. Of course, these advantages aren’t just applicable to people with specific reasons – perhaps studying online just sounds more suited you to, and that’s a perfectly great reason to do so.
How do online masters degrees work in the UK? Well, they’re usually offered by institutions – whether by the universities themselves, or in some cases, the university’s continuing education department. There’s also the option of doing them via an online organisation, such as the Open University. Not all universities will offer online masters courses, and some will only offer them in certain subject areas, so make sure you do your research thoroughly. Take a look through our A- Z of universities if you need somewhere to start. The important thing to check is that it is an accredited master’s degree, and if so, then you’re well on your way.
The big thing to be aware of when doing a master’s degree online is how much it will different from doing one onsite. If you’re doing a research masters (not sure what this means? Look at our advice on taught vs research masters degrees), the difference will be less obvious, but either way, you won’t be able to attend the seminars, lectures and classes that a masters course usually involves.
When doing a masters degree online, most of your interaction will be via email, discussion boards, and potentially (depending on your tutors) videos. You’ll also be reliant on online resources such as journals, rather than physical spaces such as libraries. If you’re the kind of person who thrives in lectures, you may find this change requires a lot of getting used to, so make sure you plan accordingly and have ways to ensure you can study responsibility.
On that note be prepared to be far more self-motivated than you were in undergraduate – without scheduled classes and lectures, you’ll have to be responsible for managing your own time and making sure you get the work done. On the plus side, you’re going to end up with some pretty fantastic organisational skills. Why not start figuring out those good studying habits and the ideal place to work in advance?
Do remember that there will still be a fee involved, and often, funding will be limited by not attending onsite – many bursaries require you to be doing a full-time on-campus degree. That’s not to say that there isn’t any funding available, just that you will have to be very organised about tracking it down! If you’re doing a masters degree online full time, it will impact the hours you have available to work, so make sure you have a sound budget plan before taking up a course like this – it may cost less than living onsite, but that doesn’t mean it costs nothing! You may also be required to visit the university a certain amount of times throughout your course, so if it’s a particularly far away university, be sure to budget for travel costs as well.
We mentioned earlier that doing a masters degree online can help you avoid changing your entire life to accommodate postgraduate study. True as this is, it’s important to be aware that it will still impact your life, especially if you’re doing it full time. It’ll limit the hours you have available to work and socialise, and you may find some people won’t understand just how much of a time commitment online learning is. So before you commit to doing an online masters degree in the UK make sure you’re fully prepared – and then your studies should be a success!