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How Long Does It Take To Study A Distance Learning Masters?

How long does it take to study a DL mastersThe amount of study time needed to complete a distance learning masters degree depends on a variety of factors, including what subject you are studying, whether you are studying the online program part time or full time, and if you need to take any breaks or work placements during your studies as part of your course. To help you to establish that you really are ready to study an online masters it's a good idea to consider your different study options to ensure you choose the right course for you.

Full-time distance learning masters

In the United Kongdom a full-time distance learning masters course usually takes one year to complete. In much of the rest of Europe, the length of the course can often take up to two years to complete, depending on whether the masters course is a technical course or an academic one – with those courses leading to a profession often taking two years. In the rest of the world a masters degree program will usually takes one year to complete online (as it does as on campus).


Part-time distance learning masters

Although part-time study usually means taking twice the amount of time to complete a course as a full-time student would, this is not always the case. Some part-time online masters courses – again often those related to a profession – can take three years to complete what a full-time student would finish in just one year, for example, many of those part-time distance learning programs at the University of Edinburgh. This is because these distance learning masters programs are designed to work easily around the students' existing employment. These courses are often long-established programs, so the universities know what works best for students to achieve optimum success on the distance learning studies. Masters courses that have more recently migrated to being taught via distance learning are more likely to match the traditional academic year of the courses taught on campus and therefore tend to be two years in duration.

Flexible study

When it comes to flexible study, the length of time taken to gain a masters by distance learning can obviously vary. For many distance learning courses with flexible study – also sometimes known as intermittent study – the length of time taken to complete the course can take anywhere up to six years to complete. These courses are designed with work and other responsibilities that the student might already have in mind, and do not necessarily require the student to be continuously studying. Often students will complete just one module a term, but they can choose to study more or less depending on how their study is fitting into their lives. One consideration with flexible study is a time limit that can be imposed as to how long a student can take to complete the course, but this is often as long as five or six years. King's College London offers many of its distance learning masters courses in this format.

Blended learning

Blended learning is a great option for students who want to combine the lifestyle benefits of online study with the networking potential of an on-campus masters course. Many blended learning courses will combine short periods of traditional lectures, workshops and seminars on-campus, often in the form of a summer school or during other university holidays via distance learning. An example of this are the LLM courses at the University of Aberdeen, these courses combine Law with Professional Skills and have been specifically designed to be taught via distance learning. They have been run for many years so are well established and have a proven success rate for students. Blended learning courses can vary in length but often end up taking two or three years or even up to five or six years if combined both blended and flexible learning.

Variety of formats

Some online distance learning masters courses are run in more than one format, that is both on campus and online, and a good example of this combined learning are the Master of Laws programs offered by Berkley Law at the University of California. These LLMs have the same course content presented in a variety of formats allowing for a range of students in different circumstances the ability to gain a masters level education delivered the method that suits them the best.

Duration of a distance learning masters program

As this article explains, distance learning masters courses take different lengths of time to complete, varying from country to country, from course to course and from institution to institution. This table illustrates some examples of how long it takes to study a distance learning masters course.

Duration of a Distance Learning masters


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