Which Mode of Postgrad Study Should You Choose?

You've realised that postgraduate study is for you. You've done the maths and you can afford the tuition fees, living costs, drop in income (just about) and the time commitment. One of the next decisions is which mode of study is for you. Full-time study is not the only way. Maybe you don't want to return to your days as a full-time campus-based student. Maybe you can't fit full-time study in with your other responsibilities. Whatever the reason full-time study has its pros and cons and so do all the other ways of studying. Perhaps part time or online/distance learning will be the perfect way for you to complete that postgraduate course of your dreams.

Full-Time Study

Fully submerging yourself with complete devotion to a subject gives you the time to learn and understand. This is a huge advantage that full-time study has. You will have your qualification in the quickest time possible and if time is of the essence then full-time study is for you. On the downside, you will have to take time away from your work, which is a no-go for many, and someone else will need to be on hand to support any dependents you have.

Part-Time Study

Attending lectures and tutorials on a part-time basis is a fab solution for many students. Most institutions, like the University of Edinburgh, offer the majority of their courses on a both full and part-time basis. If you have commitments, responsibilities and dependents, then the partial commitment of part-time study is the perfect solution. Being able to work outside of your studies will give you time away and this can balance out the stresses and strains of studying. On the flip side, it will take you longer to complete your studies and there will be times when working and studying will be super stressful. Also, many international students will have visas that exclude part-time study as well as some types of employment.

Online/ Distance Learning

Combining the advantages of a supportive community of students, albeit online rather than in person, with the convenience of not attending lectures makes online studying popular. You will be able to continue working and you might be able to take advantage of an employer who is happy to fund your studies. Again like part-time studying, it can be difficult to combine your studies with the rest of your life and it will get stressful. It is just as much of a commitment to study online as it is to study attending face-to-face lectures. Some universities, for example the University of Leicester, offer a range of distance learning options where students set their own pace of study free from any discussion groups or tutorials. However, the lack of physical support and contact with other students can be difficult, and you won't have much contact with academic staff either making networking opportunities non-existent in some cases.

Breakdown of full time/part time postgraduate students

When it comes to ways of studying a postgraduate program, there tends to be a reasonably equal number of full-time and part-time students.

For example, here are some figures from the UK and the USA:

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