Earning your master’s degree can increase your salary and opportunities. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of studying a part-time master’s.
When it comes to getting a master’s, studying part-time as opposed to full-time is often a preferred method for many students for a variety of reasons. There’s a lot to balance in life as it is, so commitments shouldn’t stop you from continuing to attend higher education.
The option to study part-time offers a flexible and low-cost alternative to studying full-time. And, you still reap all the benefits you get when you graduate from a full-time master’s, such as a higher salary and more job opportunities.
While the earning potential with a master’s degree versus a bachelor’s depends on one’s major, graduate degree holders earn, on average, $17,000 more than those with a bachelor’s.
And, for prospective students who can’t commit to a full-time program, there is always the option to learn part-time. A part-time master’s allows you to study at your own pace, which generally takes anywhere between two to six years to complete.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of working towards your master’s degree on a part-time schedule.
Pros of Studying a Part-Time Master’s:
Ultimately, learning part-time does offer all the benefits that a full-time program does, but with additional advantages and opportunities.
Whether you’re raising a family, working in a job, or starting your own business, a part-time schedule allows you to balance your studies with your life. With online master’s programs, like those from University of the People (Master’s in Business Administration and Master’s in Education), you can learn with nothing more than an internet connection. Students from over 200 countries and territories take part in the programs that UoPeople offers, and they do so without geographical barriers or time constraints.
Along with requiring less upfront costs because you take less units at a time, a part-time program allows you to work while studying. Therefore, you can likely cover the fees and costs without taking out any loans and accruing interest. Additionally, many employers are open to refunding and/or subsidizing part or all of the degree’s cost. At UoPeople, for example, the programs are completely tuition-free, which means you only have to cover the costs of an application fee and course assessment fees. The expected cost for an MBA is $2,460. For many people, this can be covered with their income or savings from work. If it can’t be, there is always the option for financial aid through scholarships or grants.
3. Opportunity Cost:
Opportunity cost is defined as the loss of potential gains that can be earned while you’re doing one thing over the other. So, to put it into what you may consider when earning a degree, it could mean giving up your career or advancement in your career for school. But, with a part-time program, you don’t have to give up anything or risk losing your job. Instead, you are able to continue excelling in your career as you work towards earning your degree.
4. Increased Earning Potential:
With every level of education, you widen your opportunity to earn more income. For starters, graduates of a bachelor’s program earn, on average, up to 56% more than those with a high school diploma. Those who earn a master’s degree increase their earning potential over those with a bachelor’s degree. The average income for someone with a master’s degree across all industries is $71,000 annually. Master’s degrees pay off for many degrees, but specifically, business and education are at the top of the list.
For most people, advancing in their career is one of the main reasons to obtain their master’s, but another top reason includes the networking opportunities that come with such programs. Coming together with like-minded professionals and engaged students can open the door to multiple opportunities for future jobs, friendships, and even business partnerships. Many programs even offer corporate and academic partnerships that further promote networking while you’re in school. To exemplify, at UoPeople, not only are students coming together from all around the world to learn from one another, but there is also strong academic leadership. Course instructors and curriculum advisors are experts in their respective field, so they can open doors to internships, mentorships and future jobs.
6. Boost Life Skills:
As with every level of education, the more you study, the broader your skills develop. With a part-time master’s, in particular, time management is one of the biggest necessities to successfully complete your degree. Along with time management, you’ll learn to be self-motivated and organized. All of these skills will prove useful in both interviews and the workplace. They are also transferable to everyday life.
7. Professional Experience:
Some students choose to pursue their master’s degree after years of work experience. Even if you are studying without work experience, and instead, get a job while you study, you can use your professional experience and school experience interchangeably. For example, you can test out the knowledge you learn in your degree program in real time at your job. And, vice versa, some aspects of a job like time management and communication can help you succeed in school.
8. A Second Chance:
Regardless of how old you are when you start to earn your higher degree, you may or may not be sure of what you want to do for the rest of your life, and that’s really okay. But with the proliferation of online universities and lower-cost alternatives to traditional education, you can always reassess your current situation and potentially make a change. When you arrive to the point of earning your master’s, it will offer a challenging avenue to discover more about yourself and what you want to pursue next.
Cons of Part-Time Education
Going back to school or beginning a higher degree is undoubtedly a challenging pursuit.
Here are some of the hurdles you may have to cross when choosing a part-time program over a full-time program. But, as you can see, the benefits outweigh the costs, for most people.
1. Finding Balance:
As both a pro and a con, balancing school with other responsibilities is not easy. Other commitments can get in the way, whether they be work or family. But with them comes learning time management skills that will help you excel in the workforce.
2. More Time:
Compared to a full-time program, a part-time program will surely take longer to complete because it’s less units per quarter or semester. While that offers you the time to do other things, it does delay having your physical degree in your hands.
3. Less Intense:
Studying part-time may be less intense than full-time because your focus is spread across other commitments. However, that doesn’t discount the fact that it will be just as challenging and educational because the courses are still the same. It’s just being mixed with other activities.
4. Create an Environment:
With a part-time program, you will surely need a supportive home environment to take on all the studying and work. If you choose to enroll in a part-time online program, the ability to study from everywhere is a benefit, but it will also mean that there is no designated classroom for learning and studying.
Take it from Jillian Sigamoney, a 41-year old South African student who previously was unable to study at many universities in her country of origin due to apartheid.
Having earned her MBA with UoPeople, she shares, “It is a great way to study from any location in the world, with a high quality of interaction and information exchange. The courses give you the tools you need to begin working within an industry, study and practice what you are learning.”
It’s Up to You
Earning a master’s degree part-time is not for everyone. However, depending on your situation, it may be the opportune set-up to still achieve a higher degree while balancing your other commitments. Part-time programs offer the same quality of education — the major difference is the time it takes to complete. With flexibility and low opportunity cost, you can reap the benefits of holding a master’s degree, on your own time, and at your own pace.