find your perfect postgrad program
Search our Database of 30,000 Courses

Online Learning Zone Home

Distance Learning MSc

Distance Learning MScDistance learning is becoming more and more popular these days, but it’s often thought of as a mode of studying for the humanities. After all, there are a whole bunch of reasons to choose to study online.

However, nowadays many universities offer students the chance to study a distance learning Master of Science (MSc) in a variety of subjects. Just how this is possible, you may ask, given how much of what we think of an MSc is made up of lab research work. Well, not all courses require this. What we commonly think of as ‘science’ subjects – chemistry, physics, biology, and so on – aren’t the only degrees classified as MScs. There is a whole range of subjects out there, including: Pharmaceutical Medicine; Information Technology; Molecular Biology; Finance; and Sports Science. As you can see any subject with a science or mathematics base can be classified as an MSc, meaning there’s a bunch of options available. There are even courses in History and Religious Studies that are classified as MScs due to the focus on research and social study.

If a distance learning MSc sounds like something that would interest you, then read on for our essential advice on what is involved in studying an online MSc program.


MSc by Distance Learning

Before you go jumping straight into your decision, there are a few things you’ll want to check off first. Firstly, is a masters degree right for you? Find out the facts on masters study here. Secondly, is it worthwhile? If the answer to both of these is yes, you can start looking the specifics.

A masters degree is worth 180 credits (in comparison to a postgraduate diploma at 120 or a certificate at 60). Information on how they’re classified can be found here. When it comes to an MSc by distance learning you’ll want to check how these credits are broken up, as it will vary due to the lack of on-site experiments. A sample of how it may be broken up is two 60 credit modules, and two 30 credit projects, but this would vary on a case-by-case basis.

Although we have pointed out that many MScs don’t involve laboratory work, this doesn’t mean they all exclude it. In some cases it’s entirely lab work that can be done on a computer, or in others it may involve a visit to the university.

When it comes to distance learning, much of it involves being online. Depending on the course and the university department, this could be anything from watching online lectures, to participating in regular discussion groups. You’ll also have contact with a tutor, through phone or email depending on the tutor’s preference. With MScs in particular, there is a lot of computer-based work – whether it’s statistics, molecular models or something else, you’ll be expected to understanding how to make the best of these programmes.

As with most distance learning degrees, the university will provide study resources – whether in the form of access to libraries, textbooks or computer programs. That said, even with all the resources in the world, there is still one vital thing you need to bring to the table: motivation.

Motivation = key consideration

Distance learning has a lack of structure in comparison to on-site degrees, and so it'll be up to you to work to an appropriate schedule. Equally, though you’ll be in communication with a tutor and other students via a forum, or email, you won’t be part of the same atmosphere as you would if you were studying on campus – meaning you need to be able to motivate yourself and not rely on other people. This makes a studying an MSc by distance learning incredibly different to studying for one done on site – instead of a 9–5 day in labs, you’ll be expected to put in the hours yourself. There’s no set times for lab work on a computer, and it’ll be up to you to keep going. Make sure you organise some study strategies and stick to them!

If you can be that motivated, it can be incredibly rewarding – you can do things at your own pace, fit it around your own life, and most importantly, these skills are useful for moving into the profession. Whilst at one point online degrees may have been looked down on, that is no longer the case. In fact, if you can sell it right, you can come across as incredibly capable, organised and well suited to any role that involves you to be so!


Related articles

How Can An Online MSc Help My Career?

Pros & Cons Of Distance Learning

Studying A Distance Learning Masters Program

Masters Degree Online

Distance Learning PhD

Online MBA Programs

Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries