Getting a Master’s degree can open up new career opportunities that you may not have access to with just an undergrad degree. If you are currently working full-time, how much time can you expect to dedicate to your degree while still following your normal work schedule?

Standard Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb is to expect to spend at least two hours a week per credit hour. If you are going to school full-time to get your degree, you will take as many as 15 credits per semester. Those who go to school part-time can take as few as six credits per semester. This means that you may have to dedicate anywhere from 12-30 hours per week doing class work.

Don’t Forget Mandatory Field Work

In addition to the class work that you have to do, you may be required to do field work as well. Typically, you will be required to get an internship or spend time doing a practicum somewhere in the community. For example, if you are looking to become an administrator in a school, you may have to spend time shadowing a current administrator as part of your degree program.

Most Degree Programs Go Throughout The Year

Anyone looking to get their Master’s degree should plan on spending an average of 15 consecutive months pursuing that degree. Although schools used to give you a break over the summer months, many schools have switched to a program that consists of four consecutive semesters.

Online Degree Programs May Finish Up Sooner

Anyone who is looking for a program that will not take as long to complete should consider taking an online Master’s program. Online courses typically take less time to complete and offer students the flexibility of doing class work whenever and wherever it is convenient. While it may not shorten the time it takes to finish your degree program, and you still have to put in the same amount of study time, you may still find it easier to fit into your schedule by taking commuting and set class times out of the equation.

Do You Need To Complete A Graduate Thesis?

The amount of time that you dedicate to your classwork will partially depend on what degree program you are enrolled in. For example, those going for a doctorate in an advanced subject may have to do field work as well as write a thesis that is several hundred pages long. That alone could take hours of your time each week.

If you are going to get your Master’s degree, you can expect to put in a lot of work to get it. At a minimum, you should expect to dedicate at least two hours per credit hour per week. This could limit you to taking classes on a part-time basis if you have a full-time job. However, if you are dedicated enough, it may be possible to work full-time while also going to school full-time.

Further Reading: What I Wish I Knew in Grad School: Current and Former Students Share 16 Tips