If you are one of the 132 million Americans working full-time, you likely have a lot on your plate. Going back to school might be just one more checkpoint on your to-do list. Many adults choose to go back to school and advance their education, but it’s not a decision taken lightly. Many wonder if it’s possible. Perhaps that is why you are here, asking: “Can I get a master’s degree and work full-time?”
Many aspiring master’s degree students ask this question because they know a master’s degree has many benefits, like increased earning potential and more job opportunities. But, they also wonder if it’s a good idea for them to add higher education to their already complex work-life balance.
First and foremost, it is entirely possible to earn a master’s degree and work full-time, and it’s a great way to earn money to finance your higher education. However, it requires forethought and planning and is the ultimate multitasking test.
Let’s discuss what you should consider before pursuing an advanced degree, tips to help you earn a master’s degree while working full-time, and examples of flexible master’s degree programs to look for when maintaining a full-time career.
What should I think about before applying to a master’s program?
There are several items to consider when determining whether to add higher education to your already busy life, such as the flexibility of your lifestyle, the type and specific requirements of the degree you want to pursue, and the various educational programs and opportunities available.
1. Flexibility of Lifestyle
Candidates should first consider the kinds of obligations they currently have in their life. Family, work, and personal responsibilities can be extremely time-consuming and stressful. Adding the academic requirements of a master’s degree can make it overwhelming.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What family, work, and personal responsibilities do I have?
- Can I delegate or remove these tasks to make room for my graduate studies?
- Will I still be able to support and care for myself and my family?
Additionally, candidates should evaluate how flexible their current or intended job may be. For example, if you are already overwhelmed by the responsibilities of your job, consider offloading or saying no to specific tasks to have room in your schedule for a graduate degree program.
2. The Master’s Program
The demands and rigor of your desired academic master’s degree program will also play a role in determining if you can continue to work full-time.
In addition to working, you’ll attend classes in-person or online–or maybe both–and you’ll need adequate time to study for exams. Time management is critical when attending school and working full-time, as some programs may also require internships or clinical experience.
Of course, some programs are more demanding than others, so be sure to research and understand all the requirements of your chosen degree.
3. Degree Program Formats Available
Whether in-person, online, or a hybrid model, determining the best degree program format is hugely beneficial.
Online master’s degree programs allow you to read, view lectures, take tests, and communicate with your instructor virtually, saving you extended time commuting or sitting in class.
Online degree programs are formatted with flexible scheduling, meaning you won’t have to sacrifice your professional or personal life to earn your degree. You choose when to sign-up, sign in, and study based on your needs and schedule.
Lastly, many students also choose to return to school part-time, and many master’s programs accommodate this choice. You can also decide if you can handle a full course load by enrolling part-time for a semester or two before taking the plunge to become a full-time student.
4 Tips to Earn a Master’s Degree While Working Full-Time
1. Create a Schedule
Establishing times for studying will ensure you can plan the rest of your schedule accordingly. Consider scheduling time to study during your lunch breaks, your daily commute, or after work hours.
Or, if you have the same days off every week, designate those days for studying so you can complete your class assignments on time and fulfill all of your work duties and tasks. Choose a schedule that meets your needs, even if it looks different than your classmates’.
2. Connect with Other Students
Working and going to school full-time can be a lonely experience. But many students choose this path, so you’re never truly alone.
Reach out to classmates and engage in online groups for working students. Contact your school’s counselor or the college or university’s student support services center about ways to support yourself as you navigate work and graduate school.
3. Track Your Progress
Graduate school is a marathon, not a sprint. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep track and celebrate your progress.
Set smaller goals for yourself with each course you take. Then, notice how you are meeting those goals and how those goals are building up to your overall pursuit of graduation and the next step in your career.
Celebrating your smaller goals will help you stay motivated, so write your goals down and mark them as complete when you achieve them.
4. Make Time for Yourself
Burnout is a common problem for many graduate students as they go from work to school to home with no time for themselves.
Find time in your work and school schedule for activities and hobbies you enjoy, like reading for pleasure, exercising, and spending quality time with friends and loved ones.
Finding time to relax and unwind will ensure you stay refreshed and ready to work toward your personal, work, and academic goals.
Flexible Master Degree Programs
As mentioned, finding a flexible master’s degree program is essential if you want to continue to work full-time.
Not only should you ensure that your job will offer you flexibility and time for both class and work, but the degree you choose should allow you to take classes when and where it’s most convenient.
Many colleges and universities, like Goodwin, offer degrees and courses focused on flexibility. These programs are often entirely online or in hybrid formats, combining the freedom of online learning with face-to-face interaction in a classroom setting.
Some of Goodwin’s full and part-time online master’s degree programs include:
- Master’s of Education in Teacher Leadership
- Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), as well as specialized FNP and PMHNP master’s degrees for aspiring nurse practitioners
- Master’s in Organizational Leadership (MSOL)
- Master’s in Public Health (MPH)
Returning to school for a master’s degree while working full-time is possible. Still, you must be honest with yourself, your responsibilities, and your lifestyle to ensure the highest satisfaction and success.
We want to help you get through college and into a great career. Request more information today and learn how you can earn your master’s degree and continue to work full-time in our many online programs.