2021 Best Part Time Masters Programs

If you are considering obtaining a graduate degree but are in need of a flexible academic schedule, then you may want to look into part time masters programs.

Masters Programs

A number of universities have part-time graduate programs available both online and on-campus. On-campus classes may be available in the evenings or on the weekends to accommodate your busy schedule.

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Attending graduate school part time may allow you to balance your studies with work, family, or other commitments.

Part Time Masters Programs Online

There are many different part time masters programs available for busy students or working professionals. These degrees are often available through both online and on-campus programs.

Here are some common graduate degrees you might be interested in if you are considering pursuing a part time master degree:

Both of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security. These options may also be among the best master’s degrees for career change.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

business administrators in meeting

A Master of Business Administration teaches you theoretical and practical knowledge about how to manage a business. This type of degree is useful for getting many different types of managerial and corporate jobs.

Many high-level business executives at large corporations hold MBA degrees. The knowledge gained from an MBA program may also be useful if you intend to become an entrepreneur and start your own business.

Common job titles for MBA degree holders include business operations manager, marketing manager, financial manager, investment fund manager, and sales manager.

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As part of a masters in business administration degree program, students typically take advanced courses in economics, financial management, marketing, business ethics, human resources management, and other topics related to running a business.

Some MBA programs offer concentrations in specific areas—such as business strategy or corporate finance—while other MBA programs are more general.

Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)

healthcare administrators in meeting

A Master of Healthcare Administration teaches students about management and administrative work in hospitals, health care systems, and health care related businesses, organizations, and consulting firms.

A masters in health administration can help prepare you for a career in management at a hospital, nursing home, or specialty clinic. Similar to an MBA degree, coursework for a masters in healthcare administration focuses on leadership, organization, and financial management skills.

An MHA, though, emphasizes the application of this knowledge within the healthcare industry rather than in the corporate business world.

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A master’s degree program in healthcare administration will typically require courses in managerial accounting for health care, economics of health care, information systems management for healthcare, and ethical and legal issues in healthcare.

Courses may also cover leadership and organizational behavior, human resources management, quality management and patient safety, managerial epidemiology, and many other relevant topics.

Master’s in Information Technology

database administrators working

Information technology is the study of computers and computer networks that store and retrieve information for businesses and other organizations. A master’s degree in information technology may be useful for pursuing a wide variety of careers related to technology in many different industries.

Common IT careers include computer and information systems manager, computer network architect, computer systems analyst, and database administrator. Most information technology careers involve helping businesses solve problems related to technology in some capacity.

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Part time masters degrees in information technology can help you expand your knowledge of computers and other technological devices as well as the applications of technology in the business world. You may also improve your general problem solving skills.

A part-time master’s degree program in information technology may include coursework in business analysis, computer networking, cybersecurity, data science, software design and development, and systems analysis.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

nurse with a patient

Part time MS programs in nursing can help you further your career in nursing. Nurses who have earned graduate degrees are called advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs. APRNs sometimes work as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives, or clinical nurse specialists.

Some part time graduate programs in nursing are primarily intended for students who already have nursing degrees and work experience as nurses. There are also direct entry programs, though, for students who would like to pursue a nursing career after earning an undergraduate degree in a different field.

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Subjects studied as part of a Master of Science in Nursing degree program may include research methods, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and population health. Part time graduate programs in nursing may require field work in a hospital or clinical setting.

Part-Time Master’s vs. Full-Time Master’s Programs

When you decide to pursue a graduate degree, one of many things to consider is whether you want to attend school full time or part time. There are many options available for both.

Enrollment

masters degree students in university

When enrolling in part time grad school, whether it’s a part time nursing degree, a part time MHA, or a part time MPA program,  you will sign up for fewer credit hours per semester than what you would take in a full time program. You may choose to only take 1 or 2 classes each semester instead of the 3 or 4 you would take as a full-time student.

Full time and part time graduate programs are available both online and on traditional campuses. Within both of these formats, there are many different scheduling options available.

For part time students, traditional campuses may have evening or weekend masters programs to accommodate the busy schedules of working students. Online degree programs are often even more flexible with regards to scheduling options.

Part time graduate programs are often less competitive to get into than full time graduate programs, even at very prestigious universities.

Universities are less likely to provide scholarships and financial aid to students enrolling in part time grad school, even for the best part time MBA programs, but you may be more likely to receive financial assistance from your employer to further your education.

Time to Completion

masters degree student

One of the biggest differences between part time graduate programs and full time graduate programs is how long it will take you to complete your degree.

Graduate students who attend school full time may be able to complete a graduate degree in as little as 2 years. There are even one year master’s degree programs that may be of interest to you.

Part time students usually need at least 3 years to complete their degrees, and they may take as long as 6 years, depending on the program and course load.

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Full time graduate programs often follow a rigid structure with regards to which courses and how many courses students are expected to take each semester. Part time graduate programs often allow for more individualization with course schedules.

Pros and Cons

Part-Time Master’s Full-Time Master’s
Pros
  • Lighter workload each semester
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Can work while pursuing degree
  • More likely to qualify for financial aid
  • Can often be completed in less time
  • May provide more networking opportunities
Cons
  • May take more time to complete
  • May not be eligible for financial aid
  • May have fewer networking opportunities
  • Heavier workload each semester
  • May not be able to work full-time
  • May be more competitive to get into

Master’s Degree Careers & Salaries

Master's Degree Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following careers may be pursued with a master’s degree in business administration, healthcare administration, information technology, or nursing.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Nurse Anesthetist $183,580
Computer and Information Systems Manager $151,150
Marketing Manager $142,170
Financial Manager $134,180
Computer Network Architect $116,780
Nurse Practitioner $111,680
Nurse Midwife $111,130
Top Executive $107,680
Medical and Health Services Manager $104,280
Database Administrator $98,860

With a masters degree and experience, you may qualify for leadership or management roles. A graduate degree may also allow you to receive a higher starting salary for jobs that only require a bachelors degree. After you complete your masters, you may want to continue your education in one of the part-time doctorate programs offered at some universities.

Admissions Requirements

masters degree student studying online

Admission requirements will often vary among institutions, but common admissions requirements for graduate programs include the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
  • Personal recommendations
  • Work or volunteer experience related to your field

Some universities may also require GRE or GMAT scores. You may want to pay close attention to the specific admissions requirements of any graduate program you intend to apply to.

Accreditation

Masters Programs Accreditation

Before enrolling at any college or university, you may want to make sure it is regionally accredited. In order to receive regional accreditation, a school is periodically evaluated by an outside organization to verify that they meet certain standards of academic quality.

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Regional accreditation is important because it helps to ensure that your degree is considered legitimate by other institutions and potential employers. To find out if your prospective school is accredited, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Masters Programs Financial Aid

There are many different types of financial aid available to graduate students who qualify. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out if you’re eligible for federal or state aid.

You may also look into various need-based and merit-based scholarships. These may be offered by public or private organizations as well as universities. If you want to earn a master’s degree, you may also check with your employer to see if your work offers tuition support.

Can You Do a Part Time Masters?

masters student studying online

Yes, you can earn a master’s degree while only attending graduate school part time.

Some may assume that attending graduate school requires round-the-clock commitment. Many universities, though, are now offering part time masters degree programs both online and on campus.

Part time graduate degree programs on traditional campuses usually feature evening or weekend classes so working adults may fit classes into their schedules.

How Many Credit Hours Is Considered Part Time in Graduate School?

masters degree students in university library

Full time graduate students typically take 9 or 12 credit hours of coursework each semester, which usually means being enrolled in 3 or 4 courses per semester.

Part time graduate students usually only take 3 or 6 credit hours, so they may only be enrolled in 1 or 2 courses each semester. The exact requirements to be considered a full time or part time graduate student may vary from one university to another.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Part Time Master’s Degree?

masters degree student with his laptop

Full time master’s degree programs usually take 1 to 2 years to complete. Part time programs are more variable. Depending on how you pace yourself, completing your degree will likely take at least 3 years if you are only attending school part time.

Online programs often provide a lot of flexibility for the pacing of the degree program, so it make take you longer, depending on your course load.

Many online programs offer 8 week classes, so even if you only took 1 course per term, you could potentially keep up with students in traditional full-time programs. Some online programs even offer 5 week classes and monthly start dates.

Do Part Time Students Get Financial Aid?

masters student studying

Yes, part time students are eligible for financial aid and scholarships. Some universities may require that students be enrolled full time to qualify for certain scholarships, but part time students may still qualify for federal financial aid.

As a part time student, you may be able to qualify for grants, loans, or work-study programs. One financial advantage of attending school part time is that you can continue working while in school. Some employers may even assist with the costs of your education if it will help you with your current job.

Is a Part Time Master’s Degree Worth It?

marketing team in meeting

Yes, a part time master’s degree is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs requiring a master’s degree for entry are set to grow at 15% over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Common careers for those with a graduate degree include financial managers, nurse practitioners, computer and information systems managers, top executives, and medical and health services managers.

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Earning a masters degree in your preferred field could not only lead to more job opportunities but also allow you to generally improve your critical thinking skills.

Universities Offering Part Time Online Masters Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Florida International University

Florida International University campus

Florida International University has more than one hundred programs that allow students to earn a masters degree by attending school part time, many of which can be completed entirely online.

This public research school has programs dedicated to innovation, research, and high industry standards that give students the upper hand in their chosen field.

Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University campus

Offering students an option to enroll in all of their academic areas, Johns Hopkins University has a path to a graduate degree for most students looking to excel in their personal and educational goals. With online and in-person classes offered, a masters education is available in areas such as business, education, nursing, and more.

The Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University has various part time masters degree programs to help students acquire higher education on a flexible schedule. Each program offered at LU is designed to train future leaders in society’s high demand industries and to give students a holistic education in a Christian environment. Many programs are offered online and in-person.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University offers students the opportunity to earn their masters degree in over a hundred program areas in a flexible environment. Most programs are accessible online and on-campus and can be completed in as little as one year. Many of SNHU’s graduate programs also have multiple start dates each year.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Southern California

University of Southern California campus

The University of Southern California’s part time masters degree programs afford learners vital knowledge of each course’s critical elements. Rigorous instruction in the content area ensures students are ready to advance in their chosen field. Most part time programs are available both virtually and in-person.

USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Getting Your Part Time Masters Degree Online

Masters Degree Online

If you are trying to figure out how to fit graduate school into your busy schedule, then you may want to consider a part-time online degree program.

A masters may help you advance in your career, and an online part time program can help you earn your degree according to your own schedule and timeline. If you’re ready to further your career and education, you may begin by exploring accredited online masters programs to find the one that best fits your professional goals.

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Amy Wilson
WRITTEN BY
Amy Wilson
While attending the University of Georgia, Amy enrolled in both on-campus and online courses giving her the opportunity to explore the pros and cons of each course delivery system. Amy's research is focused on making education more accessible to everyone and how different education methodologies can affect student outcomes.