A master’s program varies in the number of credit hours. The Master of Marketing and Communication at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, consists of 36 hours. Their MBA is 40 hours. Arizona State University has an online Master of Arts in Communication with 30 credit hours. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, has a 33 credit hour Master of Arts in Communication. One way to reduce the required hours is if you have approved transfer credits. Some schools may allow work experience as credits that could shave off a few hours.
Anyone pursuing a master’s degree will be familiar with the number of hours needed each week per credit hour. The study time may be more during your undergraduate program due to the heavier course-load. Also, you may have earned a bachelor’s degree online at a leisurely pace, instead of attending classes full-time. Individuals who have been away from college coursework might require a refresher course on how much time will be demanded each week in a graduate program. At this stage, employment and family life are factors that were lacking during your baccalaureate.
Those eager to advance their education while working full-time will have to adjust their lifestyle. Less time for friends, family, and activities is likely if your job consumes forty hours or more each week. Therefore, you will be a part-time student who takes at least 1.5X – 2X the full-time study length.
The time to complete a graduate degree and the number of hours required are not synonymous. By selecting a program that allows coursework year-round, you could complete the same number of hours faster. Stevenson University Online offers a Master’s in Communication Studies designed for working professionals in 8-week sessions. Accelerated programs are an option; for example, American University in Washington, D.C., has an online eight-week accelerated format. By taking two courses per semester, students can graduate within twenty months with a Master of Arts in Communication.
The standard study hours per credit hour are one to two hours. Therefore, a three-credit-hour course requires six to nine hours of study time per week. This allotment is in addition to the hours spent taking online courses. The availability of the class time depends on whether it is an asynchronous or synchronous program. The former refers to classes that have no specific times to be online. The latter has designated times for you to be at the computer to watch the material’s presentation. Students working full-time should opt for the asynchronous format that allows one to take the class when it’s most convenient to one’s schedule. (Image above: Microsoft ClipArt)
Generally, the majority of graduate courses are three credits. In the traditional 3-credit face-to-face class, you are in class 3 hours per week. By selecting an online format, you can expect about 3 hours per week to read/listen to each course’s content. As mentioned above, this does not include offline classwork. The extra time involves nine hours per week doing related readings and studying the online class material – or a total of twelve hours per week per course. The University of North Carolina-Greensboro attests to these hours for individuals enrolled in a graduate degree.
Keep in mind that these hours are averages. Some courses may require more offline time because of the difficulty, whereas others may demand less. No doubt, there were some classes more challenging than others in high school and undergraduate years. In high school, for example, languages may have come readily, and mathematics was a struggle. Similarly, at the graduate level, you might encounter coursework that will claim more hours.
Another consideration is – what learning format produces the best results for you? If you are a visual learner, you might do well with the online format that involves reading most of the material. Whereas, if you learn better via an auditory format, the classroom setting might suit your style better.
Back to the question – Can you work fulltime and earn a master’s degree in communication? Provided you are prepared to allocate the hours necessary for study-time each week. Discipline is the key to forfeiting time spent socializing, being with family, sports, entertainment, and all your usual activities. If you decide to set your own pace, check on the maximum time allowed to finish the degree. For example, the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California has a five-year time limit on all graduate degrees. The school affords extensions in certain circumstances.