in an article about getting a master's degree, a person in a library

The Pros and Cons of Getting a Master’s Degree Online

There’s a lot of things to consider before you make a final decision.
June 25, 2021
9 mins read

The most common pursuit after acquiring a bachelor’s degree is applying for work. However, some people choose to study further to gain more expertise in their chosen fields. Those who want to acquire their master’s degree while maintaining their jobs might find it challenging to juggle their responsibilities.

It can be hard to balance your commitments when you have to attend a lecture at a university. In many cases, you don’t have much choice but to follow the schedule set by the school or your professor. You may end up missing some classes due to conflicts with your activities outside school.

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Fortunately, there are now various institutions offering postgraduate studies online. Students can complete their requirements and acquire their master’s degree without being present in the university. Although this may be an enticing opportunity you shouldn’t pass on, it’d help if you weigh the pros and cons first to see if it’s worth your time.

Pros of Online Classes

One option you can consider if you wish to pursue higher education without compromising other aspects of your life is an online master’s degree program. Here are some of the advantages:

  • More Freedom Managing Your Schedule

Getting your diploma through online courses can be a way for you to have more control over your schedule. Various institutions allow you to pick the time when you’ll attend classes. You can also access it anywhere since all you need is a stable connection and a gadget to see your lessons.

Having the freedom to set your schedule can be especially helpful if you’re taking a degree related to your current job position. For instance, professionals in the business industry who have full-time work can take MBA online courses so they can still fulfill their duties at work without any troubles.

  • Online Degrees Are Usually More Affordable  

Many schools offering master’s degree programs often specialize in some fields of study. There may be courses you’re eyeing that are only available in institutions located far away from your home. If you choose to enroll in a university outside your city, you’ll have to relocate and stay there until you get your diploma.

This can be a hurdle that’s too high to overcome, especially if you’re trying to budget your money for your daily expenses and tuition fees. The additional costs of living somewhere else may cause you to spend more than what you can afford.

One advantage of studying remotely is you won’t have to leave your current residence since everything is done online. The fees you’ll pay for the whole course may also diminish since you won’t need to pay for facility use and other charges usually included when you attend classes at a university.

  • Easy Access To School Materials  

In many cases, online degree programs offered by an institution are integrated into an organized software system. During your time as a student, you’ll be given access to all the lectures, documents and files you need for your postgraduate education. If you need to read or study something, all you need to do is log in and find the file you need. Many schools also provide their materials on their websites for free.

You can easily view and study your lessons whenever you want, and you won’t need to worry about looking for sources or materials since everything is located in one place.

Cons of Online Classes

Before you decide to enroll in an online master’s degree program, you should first weigh the cons. Here are some of them:

  • Limited Means of Communication 

Since you’ll be learning most of your lessons online, most of the exchanges you’ll have with your instructors will be through email. This can be challenging if you need to ask for clarification or have a concern that needs to be discussed in detail.

Communicating in person is still preferable since you’ll have the opportunity to talk and get your point across without any barriers. Information may get lost in translation when you relay it in written form.

If you need to fufill some group requirements for your course with your peers, you may also find it difficult to reach out to them if you’re all studying remotely. Although there are various means to converse online like emails, chats or video calls, the experience of meeting in person is still different. You may see the communication limitations of online learning as a setback if you prefer speaking with others personally.

  • Unfamiliar Class Setting  

If you attended a university during your undergraduate program, you might find the transition from face-to-face classes to remote learning unfamiliar. Instead of sitting inside a classroom, you’ll spend most of your time in front of a computer screen attending virtual lectures or reading lessons. This can feel strange, especially if you enjoy spending your time at school with other students.

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An online master’s degree program allows you to choose where you want to learn. However, if you can’t find a stimulating environment in which to learn, you may end up feeling burnt out or uninterested in your course. For instance, if your home is located somewhere with many distractions, you may not absorb the lessons taught to you since your attention is often diverted.

You’ll also be alone for the duration of your program since you won’t be around your fellow students. The moral support you may get from attending a university in person may not be as evident when you enroll in an online program.

  • Lack Of Availability

Some postgraduate programs may not be available online; if you’re planning on taking a more specific or unusual field of study, you may have difficulties finding a university that offers online courses. There’s also a chance the master’s program you’ll study will be a hybrid learning system.

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Other institutions will require you to fulfill some requirements in person, even if most of the course is accomplished online. This can be challenging if your schedules don’t match or if the university you’re attending is far.

Final Thoughts  

If you want to have more authority over your time due to your commitments, an online course may be a good option. On the other hand, if you enjoy attending a university and listening to lectures in person, then try to find an institution that offers the program you want near your area.

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