Studying part-time can be beneficial in a number of ways.
For many individuals, studying for an advanced degree, particularly a master's, is regarded as a way to improve job prospects and climb the professional ladder at a faster rate. Indeed, many programs, such as the Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Nursing, are designed to educate students with the knowledge necessary to succeed in higher positions within their respective industries.
Given the motivation for studying in these cases – to grow professionally – some students may be unable to or uninterested in studying full-time on campus. In such cases the option to study part-time can be a helpful compromise. Here is a look at some of the major benefits of this approach.
1. Greater work-life balance
Attending school full-time can be a challenge – multiple classes, multiple assignments, it can all add up and eat into a student's personal life, the University of Bedfordshire explained. This can be problematic for many, especially for those who have other obligations such as looking after children, holding down a full-time job or caring for a loved one. Studying part-time can help students balance their school life and personal life more effectively.
2. The ability to keep working
Perhaps the primary draw of part-time study is that professionals have the ability to continue progressing in their careers, while also working on a course of study designed to help them excel further. For example, a mid-level executive working on their MBA can harness the knowledge they learn in their degree program and apply it in their working life. The Guardian included an interview with an MBA candidate from Manchester, England, who offered some insight into the benefits of studying for an advanced degree while working.
"One of the attractions of part-time was combining the knowledge with my day-to-day job," she explained. "The program is encouraging me to think in a more creative way. You need to be able to balance your work and your personal commitments effectively to become an effective leader. The experience of part-time study is helping that."
3. More cost-effective
Studying part-time can be a more financially savvy move. The major reason for this is simple – students who work will have some form of income to help pay for or at least contribute toward tuition, thereby lowering debt, the National College of Ireland explained. U.S. News & World Report included a quote from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Financial Aid Director, Michelle Jackson, who elaborated on this important point.
"Even a small amount of $50 a month can help to keep interest from capitalizing on unsubsidized loans or reduce the overall principal balance of a subsidized loan," she said.
Furthermore, given the rise of online courses, which many students embrace, either fully or as part of a blended program with on-campus learning, the cost of studying part-time could end up being cheaper. This is because online learning is far more cost-effective than learning at the university itself in person. U.S. News & World Report explained how many institutions are offering degree programs online at costs markedly lower than the traditional, on-campus alternatives. The source cited the example of the Georgia Institute of Technology, which charges a remarkable $35,000 or so less than standard tuition for its online computer science degree program.
Of course when it comes to studying for an advanced degree, there is no right or wrong approach – both full and part-time learning have benefits and drawbacks. But as the above rationales make clear, for those with busy personal and professional lives, part-time study could be an ideal solution.