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Can I do an online master’s degree program full time?

There are a lot of questions you’ll encounter when you begin applying and enrolling in an online masters degree program. One of those questions will require you to decide whether you want to enroll in a program part time or full time. Unlike the bachelor’s level, many either work full time when they enter into a master’s program, or used to work full time. Many master’s degree hopefuls find themselves faced with the decision to keep working full time and attend school part time, or to quit their jobs and attend full time. Luckily, online master’s degree programs make this possible for students to explore a third avenue — work and attend school full time — by providing the ultimate flexibility for the busy adult, working or not.

What Does a Full-time Program Entail?

A full-time master’s program will take between one to three years to complete, depending on the program you choose and the school you attend. For instance, a masters degree in business, known as an MBA, is typically finished in two years with full-time enrollment; an accelerated MBA program, however, may be completed in as little as one year. While enrolled as a full-time student, you will take between nine and 12 hours per semester, whereas full-time students in accelerated programs often take 15 hours per semester. Generally, master’s courses consist of seminars, which are basically a class that combines instructor lectures and student engagement through open discussions. In online programs, seminars are administered through video, forums, and online lectures.

Courses depend on whether a student enrolls in a professional degree or an academic degree program. Professional degree programs are usually considered “terminal degrees,” meaning that they are for people who do not plan to pursue another degree, but instead wish to enter directly into a career once they’ve obtained their degree. For instance, an MBA is considered a terminal degree. In professional programs, students take more courses than those enrolled in an academic degree track. Also, professional degree students often do not have to complete a thesis, though they may have another form of exit curriculum, such as a capstone project, exit exam, or internship.

An academic degree, on the other hand, is for those who may want to pursue another degree in the future, like a doctoral degree. Academic degree tracks are very concentrated on research. Students usually take a few less courses than those enrolled in a professional program will; these classes are instead replaced by a research project, often in the form of a thesis. While engaging in a thesis, students develop and attempt to answer a research question relevant to their field of study. Said research question is answered by conducting extensive research, and then students report their findings in a long paper.

Why Do People Choose to Attend School Full Time?

There are two reasons someone might want to enroll in a full-time online master’s degree. The first is that degree attainment takes less time. For some, this means less time in which they must go without an income; for others, it means more income in the long-run because they will be able to use their degree to obtain a higher paying job one to two years before they would if they attended school only part time.

Second, students choose full-time study because financially it makes more sense than part-time study. Full-time students are eligible for substantially more private and public financial aid than part-time students because full-time students take more classes, and thus need more finances to cover the costs of tuition, living expenses, books, and so forth. For those who are unable to both work and attend school, this is a positive. Full-time students are also more likely to receive scholarship finances than part-time students; this also includes receiving higher sums than part-time students. Finally, full-time students save money in the long run. Part-time students tend to pay by the class, while full-time students generally pay a lump “full-time student” tuition sum. According to a U.S. News & World Report example, full-time University of Houston MBA students will spend about $3,000 less in fees that a part-time student.

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