FAQ: What Is a Part-Time Master's Program?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 8, 2022

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.

A postgraduate degree can be an effective tool to increase your earning potential and advance your career. With technology, earning a master's degree has become simpler, and many part-time master's students continue working for the duration of the program by balancing their studies and other life commitments. If you're looking to increase your industry knowledge and expand your career options, it may be helpful to consider completing a part-time master's program. In this article, we describe what a part-time master's program is, compare it to full-time programs and discuss why you might pursue a part-time master's degree.

What is a part-time master's program?

A part-time master's program is an academic curriculum in which students attend university classes for less than half of the week during their enrollment, and it provides students with a blended learning experience of classroom skill development and workplace skill practice. Many working professionals choose to enroll in part-time master's programs to develop their knowledge of their emphasis area and increase their career opportunities.

Related: What Is a Master's Degree?

Part-time master's program vs. full-time master's program

Both part-time and full-time master's programs result in a degree in your field of study, with the only major differences being the program pace and financial responsibility. A part-time master's degree typically takes two years to complete, while a full-time degree normally only takes one year, which means part-time students can distribute their tuition over more payments. A longer pace also includes less intensive courses and allows part-time students more flexibility to manage their life responsibilities, but a shorter pace gives full-time students the opportunity to develop at a faster rate and earn a degree quicker.

Related: Tips for Choosing the Right Master's Degree Program

Why pursue a part-time master's degree?

Pursuing a part-time master's degree can help you develop time-management and multitasking skills successfully as both a professional and individual. As a part-time student, you're likely to gain valuable knowledge, experiences and connections, and this can increase your potential for career advancement. Here are some other reasons you might want to enroll in a part-time master's program:

Flexibility

Universities often design classes in part-time programs to accommodate the schedules of working individuals with familial or other personal commitments. Online learning has made these programs widely accessible, and many are adaptable to accommodate your professional and personal schedule. Consider researching different programs to discover the schedule of classes they offer part-time students to determine which one can help you achieve an ideal work-life balance.

Affordability

As a part-time student, your tuition payments have a smaller impact on your finances because you pay them over an extended period. You can continue working while studying, so you have the added benefit of maintaining a steady income, which can assist you in offsetting the costs of learning materials. Some companies offer work-related education programs that may partially or fully pay for your classes. Many part-time students are eligible for financial assistance, such as student loans or work-related education tax exemptions. Consider contacting your job's human resources department to discover what options are available to you.

Increased earning potential

Many working professionals who receive a master's degree in their career often earn more than their peers who solely have a bachelor's degree. Completing a postgraduate program while working can prove to your employers that you possess excellent time-management skills and dedication to your professional field, and they may compensate you to reflect your new credentials.

Related: A Guide to Average Income by Education Level

More career opportunities

When you specialize in a specific field or subfield, you often become a more desirable applicant. Employers typically search for skilled and knowledgeable employees, and applicants who've completed part-time master's programs usually are highly qualified candidates who can make a valuable addition to a team. Having a master's degree also expands your career path options by introducing job opportunities that require such certifications, such as a promotion to managerial roles.

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

Learning advantage

Because they possess industry knowledge, working students have a particular advantage in their skill development by making connections between their jobs and the learning material. They can reference actual experiences in their projects and provide an industry professional's perspective in class discussions. Learning new skills is also beneficial in the workplace because students can implement them immediately by applying their skills to practical circumstances and adjusting them to refine their work process, which can accelerate their career advancement.

Student experience

Another advantage of attending a part-time master's program is the ability to experience student life at your own pace. You can still appreciate the benefits of socializing with your classmates by attending university functions or establishing a regular study group. Taking the time to enjoy your education and make friends may help improve your learning experience and expand your personal and professional network.

Convenience

The convenience of a part-time master's degree stems from its ability to integrate smoothly into the lives of working professionals. Students learn skills they can apply to everyday situations in their careers, and they also have a better understanding of the learning materials because of their industry experience. Due to this, enrolling in a part-time program is simultaneously convenient for developing your industry knowledge and advancing your career experience.

Easier material

A part-time master's program usually includes less intensive material than a full-time program because of the slower pace, which allows students to focus on multiple commitments. Learning at your own pace allows you to take the time you need to comprehend lesson information, and you can adjust your schedule to accommodate other life responsibilities while remaining a part-time student. Many universities allow part-time students to take a minimum of one class per semester to stay enrolled. Try to research different universities and their program requirements to determine which works best for your schedule.

Networking

Attending a university can give you an abundance of networking opportunities. You can connect with other industry practitioners and experienced professors to build your professional network, and many colleges host job fair events during the school year to allow their students to associate with other professionals in their field of work. Consider scheduling office hours with your professors to discuss some best practices for applying skills in the workplace or to answer questions you may have on a particular experience. Taking this opportunity can help you better comprehend lessons and gain valuable insight from experts in your industry.

Explore more articles