10 Tips To Help You Earn a Master’s Degree While Working

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Getting a master's degree can have many benefits for professionals, such as increased earning potential and more job opportunities. Many professionals choose to earn a master's degree while working so they can continue to earn money and finance their tuition. If you're a professional who wants to pursue an advanced degree, you can benefit from learning some techniques to help you balance your education and work responsibilities effectively. In this article, we provide a list of 10 tips that can help you earn a master's degree while working.

Related: Should I Get a Master's Degree? 9 Factors To Consider

10 tips for earning a master's degree while working

Here are 10 tips that can help you balance your work and education while pursuing a master's degree:

1. Explore various programs

Before you begin a graduate program, it's helpful to explore various programs so you can find one that works with your schedule. Many master's programs offer flexibility in their class formats, such as online or hybrid classes, or the length it takes to complete the program. Some graduate schools may offer additional options specifically for working professionals, such as an alternative to a full-time internship that the program may typically require. If you plan to continue working while getting a master's degree, it's important to consider various options so you can find one that fits your lifestyle and career goals.

Related: Choosing a Master's Degree To Fit Your Career Goals

2. Schedule study time

As you work toward your graduate degree, it helps to establish times for studying so you can plan the rest of your schedule accordingly. For example, if you work in a full-time position, you may decide to schedule study time over your lunch breaks, during your daily commute or after work hours. If you have the same days off every week, it's helpful to designate those days for studying so you can complete your class assignments. Even if your schedule varies from week to week, knowing the times you have available to study can help you prioritize your coursework effectively.

3. Track your progress

While earning a master's degree and working, it's helpful to set smaller goals for yourself and track your progress so you can see what you've accomplished. For example, you may set a small goal of improving your grade in a challenging class by the end of the semester. Write your goals down to help you remember them, and mark them as complete when you achieve them so you can clearly see your progress. Setting and achieving small goals to track your progress over the course of a master's program can help you stay motivated to reach your goals.

4. Stay organized

Organizing your various school assignments, deadlines and work responsibilities can be helpful when you're pursuing a master's degree while working. Find a method of organization that works well for you, such as a daily planner or an online calendar. Whatever method you choose, make sure you're noting all of your important responsibilities, such as a course exam, a deadline for a research paper or a presentation at work, to help you remember them. You can review these plans daily, weekly or monthly to help you manage your schedule and complete your schoolwork and work assignments on time.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your Time-Management Skills

5. Make time for other activities

As you work toward your master's degree, it's important to find a balance between your school and work responsibilities so you can remain committed to your goals. Make sure you're taking breaks from studying or working to do other activities you enjoy, such as reading a book or exercising. On busy days, try to set aside small amounts of time to do something for yourself, such as calling a friend. Finding time to relax and enjoy other activities can help you create a balance that keeps you feeling refreshed and ready to work toward your goals.

6. Create a dedicated study space

Establishing a dedicated place to study can help you create a consistent routine. After spending the day at work or on campus, having a space in your home to study can help you focus on your schoolwork. If you work from home, it's helpful to create a separate area for studying to help you distinguish between work and school. If you find it's more challenging to study at home, go to another location, such as a coffee shop or public library, to help you concentrate. Studying in the same area each day can help you improve your productivity.

7. Use school resources

Many graduate schools offer resources for students to use while completing their degrees. Check with your school or program to see the resources that may be beneficial for you. For example, some schools offer career counseling, health and fitness resources, tutoring services or writing centers to help students with their educational goals. Many graduate programs encourage students to have an academic adviser who can help them plan their course schedules and provide career advice. Using some of your school resources can provide you with academic support as you work to balance your education and your professional career.

8. Develop habits

Forming habits while completing your master's degree can help you achieve your academic and professional goals. Choose habits that align with your objectives to increase your productivity and improve your decision-making skills. For example, you may choose to make a habit of going to bed at the same time each night so you can wake up early to study before work. Some other examples of helpful habits may include establishing a consistent time for studying or prioritizing your top three tasks each day. These habits can improve your chances of succeeding at work and in school.

Related: 51 Habits of Successful People That Can Revitalize Your Personal and Professional Life

9. Ask for help

Asking for help from others can help you meet your goals while working and completing a master's program. For example, you can ask a partner or trusted friend to help keep you accountable for studying each day. You can also ask for help from your manager or coworkers as you complete a master's program. You might ask your manager if you can leave work early to take an exam and make up the missed hours later in the week. Asking others for their support and assistance can help you handle the challenges of working and going to school.

10. Reward yourself

As you complete a master's program while working, take time to reward yourself when you meet or exceed your expectations to acknowledge your hard work. Rewards can help you feel positive about your accomplishments and optimistic about your future success. For example, you can go out to dinner after getting a good grade on a test, or you might take a day off from studying when you finish an important work assignment. These rewards can help motivate you to continue working hard and reach the long-term goals you have for yourself.

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