When you apply for a Masters programme, you will be asked to nominate your preferred 'mode of attendance'; in other words, whether you would prefer to be a full-time or a part-time student.
An added advantage of the full-time format is that students can fully engage with the research culture of the school and the university and interact daily on an informal basis with peers and academic staff. The availability of these support groups, together with the opportunity to gauge progress against that of other students, can greatly assist students to maintain discipline and focus on timely completion.
This format is usually supported by students who are bound by on-going work commitments, family responsibilities or financial pressures. For those who are working, this format works well as they can then directly apply the acquired knowledge and expertise to their jobs.
Another added advantage is the opportunity of meeting diverse colleagues, and this programme can help break monotonous routine and at the same time deepen professional expertise and accelerate existing careers.
This format also provides excellent networking facilities to those wishing to interact with industry experts, who could turn out to be good sources of recommendations.
There are many modes of study within the part-time format; these include evening classes, weekend classes, or even online classes. These formats are designed to suit students with different requirements.
Since most companies offer tuition reimbursement, the average part-time student who is also in full-time professional employment should be able to cover a majority of their course costs using these benefits.
Technology has revolutionised education. Online programmes offer not only flexibility, but affordability too, and have, most importantly, eliminated boundaries. A simple source such as a computer with internet connectivity has helped bring students from different fields, geographical regions and varying levels of expertise together, making life easier for those who cannot take the time, or cannot afford to leave their jobs while pursuing higher education.
The modus operandi is to access a large database of information, attend classes at flexible times, and collaborate with colleagues on projects using teleconferences, forums or discussion boards.
It is a myth that distance education is easy – it is definitely not easy, particularly because it often requires more personal discipline than traditional routes of schooling. Along with discipline and motivation, you need a few other basic skills. You need to understand how to read and study your course materials, how to manage your time, and access all the resources that you will need to supplement your studies (for example the library).