Degree Programs: Full vs. Part Time | 04.15.10
Although applicable to undergraduates, this timeless debate of part-time education versus full-time education seems to ring particularly strongly for graduate students. In many cases for those pursuing advanced degrees, they may be working at the same time or considering the impact an investment of a year’s time in a degree program might make in their career. Let’s go through some of the arguments for each side and figure out what the best course of action for you is:
- Accelerated, heavy class load
- Typically finish within 1 to 2 years
- More financial aid available
Full-time degree programs can be nerve-wracking if you already have bills to pay. For instance, if you have a mortgage or credit card debt that you are gradually paying down, adding more debt to your credit history might be the last thing you want. In addition, taking a year or two off from working to complete a degree may not fit in well with your career plans, despite the benefits you can reap from earning a professional degree.
However, there are a lot of situations when a full-time program can make sense. For one, if you are looking to go right back to school after finishing an undergraduate degree, what’s another few years for a Masters? Another excellent time to complete a full-time degree is if you work on a contract basis and your assignment is ending; you would need to either renew or look for a new job anyway, so getting a degree might fit in well with your schedule and plans.
- Flexible schedules
- Lighter debt burdens, potential to pay as you go
- Much longer completion times (sometimes up to 4 years)
Part-time degree programs are definitely the most popular option for working adults. If you intend on keeping your job to retain stable income (and potentially take advantage of some tuition reimbursement benefits), night school or part-time graduate school tends to be the preferred choice.
The one caveat of a part-time degree that can be the kiss of death in many cases is the completion length. Although much more affordable in the long run (since you can likely pay it down as you go with minimum loans or debt), taking three or four years to finish a degree program might sound unappealing. This is especially true for recently graduates holding bachelors degrees… who would want to go right back into a four-year program after just finishing one?
What it comes down to:
The reality of the situation boils down to two questions: “What can you afford?” and “Does the school you want have your degree in both full and part-time?”. If you are like most Americans, somewhat battered from the recession and on unstable financial footing, a part-time degree might be the better option at least in the beginning. You can always switch to full-time status if you find that you would rather speed up your program and vice versa if you need to work to support yourself while pursuing a graduate degree.
ScholarshipPoints Code: FULLORPART
What’s your opinion? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about the different types of degree program.
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