Full Time vs Part Time Postgradute courses

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There are many reasons why you might decide to either consider or pursue, postgraduate study. For most, it’s a matter of following a path of academic and professional development. For others it’s an issue of personal development or someone could be returning to study after many years. Whatever your reasons for undergoing postgraduate study, make sure you choose a study method that fits with your life and what you need.

Impacting Lifestyle

If you’re after recently completing your undergraduate degree, pursuing postgraduate study may be something that you have been considering for some time. You might have successfully completed your undergraduate degree and it is likely that you want to pursue postgraduate study with an interest in expanding your knowledge of an existing area which you have a deep interest in. If you have the financial resources or supports in place, you will likely consider doing postgraduate on a full-time basis. Of course, you need to consider your personal commitments when making this decision too as another year of full-time study is a considerable undertaking and those involved in your personal life will need to be accepting of the challenges involved. Doing a taught full-time postgraduate course can either is at Certificate, Diploma or Masters Level. Courses at Certificate or Diploma level are most suited to part-time study as the demands obviously aren’t as high as those at Masters but they still require a very sizeable commitment of time and resources.

Full-Time Study

Choosing a full-time course provides you with all the supports and academic structures which you are familiar with from your undergraduate. Timetabled lectures, projects and assignments provide a relatively ready-made structure in which you can focus on your postgraduate study. While these supports can be great in terms of providing a solid base for your further study, they can also seem intimidatingly familiar if you’ve come through a three or four-year undergraduate and would prefer a break of some sort from the academic environment that you have become accustomed to.

Prep for your workload

If you’re pursuing Masters, it can be easy to consider that the full-time taught route is the way you want to go. However, you must be prepared for that transition to a level of postgraduate study; Level 9, in many ways, may be virtually unrecognisable from that which you pursued at Level 8 for your undergraduate. For a full-time taught Masters course, you can expect a relatively heavy weekly schedule of lectures, workshops/seminars, research and project or group work.
Depending, of course, in the area in which you are pursuing, there may be field-trips, presentations and a large amount of interaction with other students and academics. Group work can be a source of frustration for many full-time students at the postgraduate level. If others in the group are not contributing at the same level it will elevate problems throughout the group, and likewise, if you feel you are being left behind by the pace of the study, then you can quickly feel out of your depth in terms of the entire Masters programme. Remember that there are support structures in place, most notably your careers service and course providers who will want to assist you in any way they can.

Why go Part-Time?

Part-time study is an increasingly popular educational method for those who wish to blend their continuing academic development with either their professional career or personal life commitments. These types of programmes generally involve sessions two-three times per week delivered either on-campus or online if distance learning is a facility which the course offers. Part-time study obviously has its benefits as you are developing other parts of your life in tandem with your postgraduate study. It also has its significant demands, however, as you seek to balance the demands of postgrad study with your other life commitments. Without the proper scheduling and personal development and support from those around you, your part-time course, particularly if it is at Masters level can very quickly seem like an insurmountable burden. However, with proper planning and support from your professional colleagues, your part-time course can offer a welcome space for development amidst a busy working career. A part-time course can be particularly beneficial for a very specialised area of study, which has a definite and tangible goal, which you can then utilise to the benefit of your career.

Don’t forget to do your homework!

Whether it is full-time or part-time that you are interested in pursuing as a method of postgraduate study, remember to do your research on the methods that have worked best for others in your alumni, personal or professional network. By hearing from others who have walked this path you are more readily able to apply the lessons that they learned to your own situation and benefit from any insights that they can provide you with.


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