Degree Programs: Full vs. Part Time | 04.15.10

Posted in Graduate Loans By Evan Jacobs

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:

Full-time programs

  • 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.

Part-time programs

  • 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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46 Responses to “Degree Programs: Full vs. Part Time”

  1. DANIELLE says on April 25, 2010 at 11:12 pm:

    I PREFER FULL TIME SO THAT I CAN COMPLETE MY EDUCATION SOONER.

    Reply To This Comment
  2. dominique says on April 23, 2010 at 9:12 am:

    i thinkk part time would better for me so ii can work

    Reply To This Comment
  3. Ally says on April 23, 2010 at 3:00 am:

    I thing i will go with a full time degree in under grad scholl but if i go to grad school i thinh i will go part time so i can work

    Reply To This Comment
  4. Tori says on April 21, 2010 at 3:50 am:

    I feel that part-time would work better for me because it keeps me debt free from fees that I would already have to pay and is a lot less stress when worrying about other things in life.

    Reply To This Comment
  5. Ryan says on April 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm:

    You make some very good points for each argument. As always, it seems that each decision will depend entirely on the current financial position of the said person in question.

    Reply To This Comment
  6. Jayrel says on April 19, 2010 at 2:54 am:

    For starting part time is better, in my opinion

    Reply To This Comment
  7. Tiffany says on April 18, 2010 at 10:51 pm:

    Full time seems like the better option if you've just finished a bachelors degree and have the choice of living with your parents. (Whats another two years?)

    Reply To This Comment
  8. mar says on April 18, 2010 at 7:55 pm:

    while part time is good for the working student i think it would be best to try for full time

    Reply To This Comment
  9. Sara says on April 18, 2010 at 6:04 pm:

    Full time completion is 1 to 2 years? Yeah right.

    Reply To This Comment
    • Evan Jacobs says on April 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm:

      @ Sara – Some programs like medical school can take longer, sure… but the vast majority of MBAs and Masters degrees are 1-2 year programs with a full-time courseload. Feel free to check out a couple masters programs onhttp://www.edvisors.com and you'll see what I mean.

      Reply To This Comment
  10. Naya G. says on April 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm:

    I perfer full time cause i want to finish my education. But part time isn't a bad ides either because some how other priorities, So you have to do what you have to do is how i see it.

    Reply To This Comment
  11. Jameala says on April 18, 2010 at 9:22 am:

    Depends on a person’s time management skills cuz it could get really hectic

    Reply To This Comment
  12. shara says on April 18, 2010 at 1:39 am:

    its easier to go full time, i would suggest part time if you have a family to take care of or if you have a full time job

    Reply To This Comment
  13. amber says on April 16, 2010 at 10:33 pm:

    At the moment, I am attending part-time. I go to school online and chose to do it part-time so that the expenses for each quarter can fit into my budget.

    Reply To This Comment
  14. Lauren says on April 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm:

    I think you have to consider that it could be beneficial for you to have some work experience before you graduate. Then consider what type of program would work best for you if you're working.

    Reply To This Comment
  15. Lightfoot says on April 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm:

    Fulltime may not exactly be 1 or 2 years, as Full-time is given different values based on where you are. I know that the college I'll be attending, for full-time status you only need to be registered for 14 credit hours a semester, and this gets you a bachelors in ~4 years (3 years if you go during every summer).

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  16. Eric says on April 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm:

    I am particular to full time. While you are able to focus more on the course in part-time, full-time feels a lot more natural. Almost like a job.
    You are also more likely to land an internship in full-time.

    Reply To This Comment
  17. Sarah says on April 16, 2010 at 4:12 am:

    Even though I'm on a quarter system, I have to say that enrolling full time has more benefits. Just as the article says, more financial aid, and finishing faster. I must say that it is very difficult if you have a job though. That's so much to juggle!!!

    Reply To This Comment
  18. Rachel Richardson says on April 16, 2010 at 3:19 am:

    I prefer to go full time I get out faster

    Reply To This Comment
  19. Liz says on April 16, 2010 at 3:12 am:

    I would choose full-time. This not only gets me closer to my degree, but I have the chance to learn a lot instead of taking breaks and end up forgetting certain things etc. I feel more comfortable knowing that I can do this with or without flexibility.

    Reply To This Comment
  20. MARIA says on April 15, 2010 at 9:54 pm:

    IN MY OPINION I SAY PART TIME IS WAY BETTER CAUSE YOU CAN GO TO SCHOOL AND WORK AT THE SAME TIME FOR YOU TO BE ABLE TO HAVE MONEY TO PAY YOUR SCHOOL
    AND IS LESS STRESS BECAUSE WHEN IS A FULL TIME YOU NEED TO PAY YOUR SHOOL FASTER
    PART TIME IS A LOT BETTER AND GIVES YOU MORE TIME FOR YOU TO BE ABLE TO GET YOUR STUFF DONE

    Reply To This Comment
  21. Lil says on April 16, 2010 at 12:50 am:

    I think full time will be a better one for me. I want to graduate faster and start to provide for my family faster also.

    Reply To This Comment
  22. Angel Fahn says on April 16, 2010 at 12:17 am:

    I prefer full time, because it will allow me to complete my education faster

    Reply To This Comment
  23. Betty says on April 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm:

    If you can go Full-time then Do So because it will be easier on you.
    BUT I feel that Part-Time is fantastic for those who have jobs & want to further their education to help in current jobs OR to help them find a better job elsewhere.
    Some people have responsibilities that require them to work and continue their education Part-Time – and I say – Don't Give Up! Go For It!

    Reply To This Comment
  24. Laura says on April 15, 2010 at 9:07 pm:

    I'm living on campus so I need to be full time.

    Reply To This Comment
  25. maira72 says on April 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm:

    I PREFER FULL TIME I WILL FINISH MY EDUCATION FASTER RATHER THEN A PART TIME

    Reply To This Comment

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