Have you been thinking about applying for a taught master’s degree? Or are you currently in the process of applying? You may have heard of studying a PGT course part-time (usually across two years) as opposed to full-time (usually one year). Whilst it can be great to get a master’s degree done and out of the way, studying it part-time can be a great option for many reasons. Here are a few reasons for studying a PGT course part-time based on my own experience and the experiences of others I know who have completed full-time and part-time PGTs.
Time for earning money alongside
Studying part time allows you more time to work alongside your degree, meaning you can continue to earn money – crucial if you have non-negotiable personal responsibilities. A part-time structure can be a more accessible option for those who either need to or want to work alongside their degree to prevent feeling overwhelmed, or for those simply would not have the time to dedicate to full-time studies. Most people I know have also found it easier to balance their paid roles with a part-time master’s in comparison to those who have worked and studied on a full-time basis. Additionally, unlike undergraduate studies, Student Finance provide less funding for studying postgraduate taught courses – though the funding provided is a lot more flexible for its use. So, studying part-time is a great way to help you to continue to earn whilst allowing you to study for your long-term interests…or even get paid related work experience alongside your studies!
Wellbeing and pace benefits
Whether you’re working alongside studying or not, I know plenty of people who have started a full-time PGT course and felt completely over-loaded with the amount of reading required in the timeframe. My part-time master’s programme (Sociology) required me to take two modules per semester, compared to four on a full-time course. If you really do just want to get through the course and feel you can manage this type of workload, absolutely go for it. But from experience, the steadier pace allowed me a lot more time to manage my wellbeing and mental health when I struggled with confidence in my studying. As I was studying fully remotely in the pandemic, the part-time structure was really helpful for the days when I just didn’t feel motivated too. I was able to remain compassionate with myself for not doing work on some days rather than pressured to meet multiple deadlines at once. If you do have the time, studying part-time may also allow you to audit a module. This is where you join in with the content but do not have to complete an assessment. It is a great bonus for exploring an area that might perhaps be required for a future opportunity, but you may still be uncertain about committing to a full assessment for.
If you know your desired next step after a PGT course is to start a PhD, it can be so daunting to explore and apply for PhD opportunities whilst studying on a full-time basis for a master’s. This is because the common deadlines for the (very often) lengthy PhD application processes can be around December to February. A part-time approach can make the first year of your master’s a bit quieter. Therefore, this earlier time can be great to start investigating your subject area, relevant reading, application timelines and find out about funding opportunities for a PhD. If this is done in your first year of a part-time format, you have a lot more time to approach multiple institutions, pull together a good quality application(s) as well as applying for various funding for the following deadlines in your second year of master’s study. This then means that you have greater focus to think about your final year dissertation/project for your masters alongside applying for a PhD without it becoming too overwhelming. The same goes for a lot of graduate schemes too in terms of the application deadline and timings.
There are a couple of exceptions to consider before going ahead and presuming part-time study though. Double check that your course is available to study part-time as not all courses are available in this format – though hopefully more and more courses will become accessible in this way to help make education more inclusive. Additionally, if you’re looking to apply for 1+3 funding with a master’s and PhD, this part-time option may not be available – though if you’re being paid this, it definitely helps taken the burden off studying!
Ultimately, you know what works best for you in balancing your personal and study needs. But I do believe the part-time option isn’t promoted enough to students and can be a really helpful route for studying.