Studying a Masters Part Time – A Guide |

Studying a Masters Part Time

Written by Mark Bennett

Studying a part-time Masters gives you more flexibility than a traditional postgraduate qualification. This can be invaluable if you work full-time or have busy family commitments. Doing a part-time Masters usually takes between two and six years.

Part-time Masters courses can be completed in several different ways. For example, you might study a programme via online modules or distance learning methods. Alternatively, you could attend evening classes designed to fit around your other obligations.

According to our Pulse survey data, around 42% of students in our UK postgraduate community are interested in doing a part-time Masters. It’s a little lower at 27% for students outside of the UK. Our survey also shows that part-time is the most popular choice for students who are 45+ years old. This isn’t surprising given the flexibility part-time study provides so you can work around your busy established life (and even current job).

This page will explain what a part-time Masters degree is, how it works, along with the benefits that come from studying one.

You can also begin your search for a Masters by browsing the part-time courses listed on

What is a part-time Masters?

A part-time Masters programme allows you to study a postgraduate course over an extended time period, affording you more flexibility than a normal one-year Masters. Importantly, you’ll study the same modules as a traditional Masters, but take them at a slower pace than usual.

A part-time Masters degree will work differently for each person. There are several different kinds of part-time Masters, each offering a unique approach that can be tailored to your personal circumstances. For example, you might choose a course that is primarily campus-based and comprised of evening classes or semi-regular teaching sessions.

Some programmes feature occasional intensive teaching blocks, allowing you plan accordingly and book the time off work in advance if necessary.

Online and distance learning courses are another option for part-time students. These courses give you the opportunity to make your Masters even more flexible, studying at home and fitting the qualification around your own schedule.

International part-time study

If you want to study abroad, many universities around the world have a part-time option for selected Masters programmes. Meanwhile, the UK has recently made postgraduate visas available for international students on part-time courses.

How long does a part-time Masters take?

The length of a part-time Masters depends largely on the subject and institution, as well as your personal circumstances. Generally, you’ll be able to complete a part-time Masters in somewhere between two and six years, taking modules and assessments at a slower pace than usual. You can often choose the length of a part-time programme, studying at your own speed.

Can I work full-time while doing a part-time Masters?

Most part-time Masters degrees are designed to accommodate students with a wide variety of personal circumstances, including those with full-time jobs. This might mean that lectures can be arranged around your professional commitments, or that assessments are staggered so that your workload is manageable.

Of course, working while studying isn’t easy, and you’ll need excellent time management skills to make the most of your postgraduate qualification and successfully juggle your various responsibilities. However, you’ll probably find that your employer is extremely supportive (especially if they’ve agreed to sponsor you!).

Studying a Masters while working full-time is also evidence of independence and determination: qualities that will stand you in good stead when it comes to boosting your career prospects.

Working while studying a Masters

If you want to find out more about what it’s really like to work during a Masters, read about one postgraduate student’s experience of doing just that.

What are the benefits of a part-time Masters?

A part-time Masters has a range of unique benefits that might not be applicable to a full-time, traditional degree.

  • Flexibility – If you choose a part-time Masters, you’ll have a much greater degree of flexibility and freedom than on a full-time equivalent, allowing you to combine your studies with any other commitments you may have. Part-time evening Masters are often designed with the needs of working professionals in mind, for example.
  • Self-funding – If you intend to carry on working while studying a Masters, you could pay for your tuition fees up front, which might be a more attractive option than taking out a loan.
  • Employer sponsorship – This is another funding possibility if you’re working while studying a part-time Masters. If your qualification is related to your current job, an employer might decide to contribute towards the tuition fees (either fully or partly), especially if the course is related to continuing professional development (CPD). We’ve written a guide to employer sponsorship, covering what kinds of qualification are mostly like to receive sponsorship and how to make a case for funding.
  • Using professional experience to your advantage – Depending on the kind of Masters you’re studying, you may find that you’re able to apply your professional expertise to the course itself (or vice versa). This is especially the case with business and law programmes.
  • Maintaining your career progress – As you won’t be focussing on a degree full-time, you’ll be able to carry on working in your current position. A part-time programme could also mean that you’ll be able to gain additional extra-curricular skills and experience alongside your Masters degree.

If you’re studying a part-time Masters via online learning or distance learning methods, you might be worried that your qualification won’t be considered the equal of a traditional, campus-based course. However, you can rest assured that this isn’t the case: as long as the programme is run by an accredited university, your qualification will be globally recognised.

How much does a part-time Masters cost?

Part-time Masters typically cost the same amount as a conventional, full-time Masters. However, tuition fees will be split equally between the years that you’re studying. So, if you’re enrolled on a two-year part-time programme that usually costs £7,000, you’ll pay £3,500 per year.

Check out our page on the cost of a Masters for more information on this topic.

How can I fund a part-time Masters?

Perhaps the most obvious way of funding a part-time Masters would be to carry on working and pay the tuition fees yourself. This has the advantage of helping you avoid student debt and the interest associated with a loan.

Self-funding won’t be a feasible option for everyone, however, and there are other options available to part-time students. We’ve already discussed employer sponsorship, which is especially applicable to employees looking to complete a qualification closely related to their current position. If you can demonstrate that the part-time course you’ve chosen will help your continuing professional development (CPD), then it’s well worth talking to your employer about the possibility of sponsorship.

Part-time students are also eligible for the UK government’s postgraduate loans. However, these are only available to part-time programmes that last fewer than four years.

Ready to begin your search for a part-time Masters?

There are thousands of part-time courses listed on

You may also like...

The Ultimate Masters Application Checklist for International Students

Applying for a Masters can feel a bit daunting. Here is a checklist of all the things you need to do to make sure you have everything covered in your Masters application.

Read more
Ways to Study a Masters

Postgraduate study is often very flexible, with the option to study a Masters degree or other qualification part-time, online or through blended learning.

Read more
Differences Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate Study

How do Bachelors and Masters courses differ? We’ve covered the main differences you’ll encounter when making the transition from undergrad to postgrad study.

Read more
Researching and Writing a Masters Dissertation

All Masters programmes include some form of extended individual project or dissertation. This guide covers how to structure a Masters dissertation, word count, how the work is assessed and what you should expect from your dissertation supervisor.

Read more
Studying a Masters Online – A Guide

Our guide explains how online Masters degree work, what the benefits of online learning are and how to choose what to study online.

Read more
Applying for a Masters in Italy

Our guide tells you everything about the application process for studying a Masters in Italy.

Read more

Last updated: 16 February 2023