The best way to predict your future is to create it – Abraham Lincoln
Studying Part Time – yes or no
Are you finding yourself in a situation where you consider to study part time because you would like to have an additional degree to progress your career? Did you just finish school or an apprenticeship and want to proceed with a university degree without spending your full day listening to university lectures? Does your schedule/ family background not allow you to go to Uni everyday?
Alright, first of all starting a small teaser what studying part time means:
- Studying part time allows you to have a full time job, unlike full time studying the lectures are either in weekly blocks, online, after work or over the weekend
- Part time study courses are in the most cases specifically designed for full time employed students or only in some cases together mixed together with full time students
- Due to less study time compared to a full time student, studying part time usually takes long (a Master degree for example is for most part time programs <2 years)
- The credit points after finishing the part time study is in most cases the same like after a full time study, i.e. the degree has the same value
I did my Bachelor and Master degree through part time study offers while working full time.
The Bachelor degree was fully funded from the company I was working for as part of a trainee program (this is quite common in Germany…), to proceed with my Master degree was my own decision, self funded and supported from my employer with travel costs and a few more days off in agreement with my manager. I will focus on different programs later on in this article.
The myth about loosing your social life
You might say I have no comparison to a full time student who might have had the chance to go to more festivals/ holidays and parties, fair enough, what I can assure you is that I had enough time to enjoy my free time, travel and did not loose the contact to family or friends while studying.
Usually your friends and family will support you, involve them in your progress and they will understand why you have to skip one or the other birthday party.
I would even say your social life benefits from studying part time:
- I got to know more people in the same situation like me which resulted in new friendships
- Because I was working full time with a monthly salary, I did not have to worry too much about spending money for one more drink on a night out or another weekend trip away
- I learned how to prioritise and schedule my time more efficiently
Research is important before making a decision
Do you find yourself getting stuck in finding the best university or option to pursue successful part time studies? Follow the below 10 steps, designed me as this is how is decided to study part time plus the points that I should have done retrospectively, I will add more input and links underneath the graphic:
Okay, first of all starting with providing a bit more input on the ten points to help you make your decision:
- What is the aim of your studies?
Why is studying full time no option for you? Do you just want to squeeze in a degree in your career? Do you require the degree for the next career step? Did you start working without a university degree but feel the need to change that?
Your aim should be clear from the very beginning to ensure you don’t have any doubts/ hesitations once you are starting.
2. What is the topic that you want to study?
Openly speaking, not every topic is made for studying part time; take law, medicine, educational, psychological or chemical degrees as example, these degrees are usually not offered part time and if you find part time options you will see they require more attendance or are not resulting in a full university graduation due to the structure of the degree. Whereas if you have a look for management, business administration, economy or IT related degrees the options will be much bigger.
My advise, ensure you stand 100% behind the topic. It is tempting to do a part time degree just because it would be nice to have one, my experience is that this might result in bad degrees and no fun during the learning process. I did my Bachelor degree because I had to and decided to study International Management, my marks were alright but far away from a distinction. For my Master’s I was very clear and specific about the degree in Information Systems. I graduated 6 month before the official schedule with distinction, mainly because I could fully relate to the course.
3. Do you want to study from home/ online or attend classes?
By starting the search for the best course you will find that a main difference for part time courses is that these are offered for online/ home studies or classroom courses. Obviously studying with fixed classes still requires a lot of homework but you have the benefit of meeting other students.
The main question is: what is your learning type. Personally I need fixed timelines, people to discuss topics with and an environment where I am not disturbed from studying to succeed. If you are the same, an online course might not be the best choice as usually non of the above is part of an online course.
4. How many years do you want to study?
Most of the part time courses are at least <6 month longer than the full time courses. Ensure when searching for the perfect course you made up your mind, how long you want to study. If you are crazy enough to think you can finish it faster, ask the university if there is a chance to graduate earlier, usually the courses that are mixed with full time students are offering this.
5. Do you want to study in your native language or in English?
This is a very simple question, just make up your mind as it will help you narrow down the search for the perfect fit course/ university.
I did my Bachelor degree 50% in German and 50% in English on a German University and my Master in English on a British University.
6. Would your Employer support you?
If you are working full time, I advise to ask your manager for support. Depending on the company they might support you with additional days off or financially. Financially could also be additional funding for university material or travel costs, if there is no option to take over the costs for the course. If your course is related to your work, I would recommend to relate is coursework etc. as often to your work place as possible. This will benefit your employer and yourself and is a strong argument for you to receive support from your employer. Whatever it is, it will help to succeed.
7. How much money do you want to spend?
Most of the courses are expensive, especially once you start to search for a universities you will see that most part time courses are offered from private universities/ institutions. The cheapest way is to apply for a trainee or graduate program where the degree is part of the program, i.e. your company will pay your university tuition.
If that is not an option have a look for governmental funds, just an advise these are usually only if you study at a university that is in you origin country.
If you start searching and see that the degrees are way to expensive, rethink if you need a university degree or if a certificate in a specific topic would be just as good. These can be cheaper, as example Project Management, is the University degree needed or is a Prince/ Agile certificate enough.
8. How important is the University location/ reputation for you?
I mentioned earlier that most universities/ institutions with part time offers are private. Therefore you might need to be flexible with the location as well as the reputation. Some of the universities with a higher reputation are offering post grad courses if it is related to your employer/ career.
Some of the postgraduate courses require an employer statement for your application, if your employer statement is missing or the job you are currently working in is not related to the course area the university might decline your application.
I started with my Master degree at Kingston University (London), while still working in Germany, my secondary aim was to find a job and relocate to London after the Master which worked out very well due to the time I spend in London for university classroom courses.
9. When is best time to start?
Now. Out of experience, use the momentum when you want to start, don’t wait for less work/ projects, starting after the next holiday etc. There will always be something coming up that was not planned.
Don’t punish yourself when you start studying and stop joining any party during that time, meet any friends or go on holidays. I think a good life balance is still needed so rather than skipping it just shorten it but especially with studying and working I needed a break in between to be able to fully concentrate again.
10. Are your friends and family supporting you?
One of the biggest support were my friends, family and colleagues. I discussed both plans with them which helped me to make my decision. During both studies my closest friends were studying as well, just about to start or nearly finished, they could completely understand when I was not around.
Links to help you getting started:
- Globally – AccademicCourses.com provides a great overview for all sorts of part time courses in globally
- UK – “The Complete University guide” has a great filter option to narrow down the search for postgraduate studies and options for UK universities
- Germany – Hochschulkompass is offering a great overview for part time study options in Germany
- London – specific studying while working options for London are here
- University Rankings – best to have a look at THE – Time Higher Education
- For degrees funded/ combined with a job, the easiest is to search on the companies website you would like to work, search for Graduate or Trainee Program and you will see that most of the bigger/ global companies are offering these
University with Online & Part Time Courses ( I am referencing these as I have studied there or friends with good experiences):
- FOM (Germany) – Part time
- Kingston University (London) – Part time undergrad & Part time postgrad
- Leeds University (Global) – Online & Part time
Many thanks for reading – if you have questions/ comments/ suggestions/ feedback please add below or reach out to me directly. If you like what you read, subscribe for more 🙂
Just a last note: the content is based on my personal experience, aiming to encourage anyone who wants to do this to go ahead and see it realistically.