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Part-Time Masters

Part Time Master's You know you want to do a masters degree and you even know which subject and whether you want to do a taught or research degree . The only problem is you know you can’t manage a full time, on-site course. Well, there are two major options for you here – a part time masters, or a distance learning masters. We'll talk about how to choose between part time and distance learning masters later, but for now, let's look at what each of them involves.

Let’s start with a part time masters . A part time masters degree is basically the same as doing a full time course but spread out over more time. Commonly, a full time masters program will take one year, and a part time masters will take two or three. So, what advantages are there to doing a part time masters?

Firstly, and possibly most importantly, you can continue to earn whilst gaining your degree. This’ll make the tuition fees easier to pay, and potentially make it easier to get a job once your degree is over.

Then there’s the bonus of having more time to learn new things. A year long course can be stressful and very involved, so if you’d rather take it slower, a part time masters would be well suited to you.

But what other things are there to consider? Well, for a part time masters you will need to be somewhat near the university, as you'll still be expected to attend. It's around half the contact hours of a full time course, but that still means you need to be available and able to get there. That said, you don't have to live in the same city – commuting from say, Liverpool to Manchester once or twice a week would be incredibly doable.

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Distance Learning Masters

Now let’s look at the alternative – a distance learning masters degree . A distance learning masters can be done full or part time, meaning the time-scale is up to you. So what are the major advantages to doing a distance learning masters program?

Well, similarly to a part time masters, you can continue to earn whilst you study if you’re careful with your time. With only rare (if any!) occasions requiring you to be on site, you’ll be able to plan your study around your own time, rather than the university’s set class schedule.

Unlike studying for a part time degree, however, you don’t have to live anywhere near the university to do a distance learning masters program. There may be specific occasions you need to be on site, but these are rare and can easily be planned for as a one-off. In addition, this means you can study in a location that you’re comfortable with, rather than uprooting. This is especially useful for those with partners and families, but even if you’re single or have no responsibilities, it can still be preferable to moving locations.

The major thing to be aware of when looking at studying a distance learning masters course is how much motivation it will take. You’ll have no pre-organised structure provided, no lessons or lectures to encourage you to attend, and no fellow students around to help keep each other in check. If you found yourself struggling to be organised when studying your undergraduate degree, this might not be for you. But if you found that you were good at it, a distance learning masters could suit you just fine.

How to choose between part time and distance learning masters

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. So how to choose? Well, we can only give you tips – it really depends on how you learn best. But here are some good questions to ask yourself whilst deciding.

Do I want the university experience?
If you enjoyed the experience of being at university amongst other students, with people to work with, lectures to attend and social groups, you’ll probably be best off doing a part time masters course. Whilst it is less of the university experience than a full time course, simply due to not always being there, you still get the advantages of being on site. If you don’t care about that, or didn’t like it, perhaps a distance learning masters program would be the better option.

Do I mind moving?
If you are adamant about not having to relocate to go to university, the distance learning masters is almost certainly the course for you. If you don’t mind, or would like to move, then the part time masters may well be better.

How organised am I?
If you know you relied on lectures and classes to keep you on track during your undergraduate degree, then you need to have a serious think about whether distance learning would suit you, and, if you decide to go with it, you need to have a plan for how to deal with this. For someone who needs external motivation, a part time masters degree may be better, but for those who can motivate themselves, a distance learning masters would work just fine.

Of course, it’s important to remember that you can combine the two and do a part time distance learning masters, which is ideal for those of you with busy lives, jobs and a lack of ability to move location! In general, when choosing your preferred study mode, you need to be honest with yourself about how you will deal with either style of course, and then choose the one that’ll be best for you. After all, you'll want to enjoy the experience, however you do it!

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