If you’re wondering whether you can do a master’s and work full time, keep reading.

Since 2018, there has been a steady increase in full-time workers pursuing study, including postgraduate options. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that in May 2021, 74 per cent of university students were also working, with 32 per cent of students working full time.

While rewarding, the combination of studying for a master’s degree and working full time has its challenges.

Thankfully, the increase in studying while working full time has been accompanied by a rise in support, resources and study options to suit individuals and their unique circumstances.

Online delivery can be a great option for those who require flexibility while working. Other perks include the ability to:

  • Study anywhere with an internet connection, making it an excellent option for people who live remotely or travel regularly.
  • Create a schedule that works for your unique circumstances.
  • Save time and money on commuting, resources that can be diverted back into your personal life
  • Meet people online from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
  • Learn skills in self-discipline and time management.
  • Advance your career on your own terms and on your own schedule.

How to study while working full time

For many people, having the option of working while studying for a master’s is necessary to support the life changes they are after.

Natasha Ace is an entrepreneur and the founder of Private Practice Alliance. After years of searching for courses to study while working, she recently completed her MBA online while working full time. Throughout her experience, she’s curated a few tips for online study, including how to balance the workload while achieving your goals.

1. Recognise that priorities will need to shuffle

No matter how you slice it, adding study into your life is going to require some adjustment. Natasha notes that it’s important to recognise this reality and make adjustments as needed.

“I can’t do things the exact same way that I could before I was studying. I just wanted to keep doing what I was doing without making any concessions and it’s not possible.”

Priorities will need to shuffle. Accepting this for yourself and communicating with the people around you is an important first step to success.

2. Break up your big goal into smaller goals

The idea of completing a master’s while working can be daunting. Alleviate this by breaking your big goal into smaller goals and setting up markers of success along the way.

Natasha recalls writing two notes to herself when she started her MBA. She would open one at the halfway point of her degree and the other at the end.

“To be able to visualise and conceptualise what I wanted to be doing was really cool. I was congratulating myself in the future.”

These goalposts provide an opportunity to reflect on your progress, see how far you’ve come and evaluate how you want to move forward.

3. Create structures, because motivation won’t always be on your side

“Structure and systems kept me going more than motivation,” Natasha recalls.

No matter how passionate you are about your study, motivation won’t always be on your side. Creating structures and schedules that make space for work, study and personal life is essential to stay on track.

This could mean separating out your work and study days, or, if this isn’t an option, taking the dog for a walk after work and before hitting the books.

Regardless, blocking out time in your calendar creates structure and routine, helping you to clearly visualise your days and ensure you’re getting the study, work and personal time you need.

4. Identify your support networks

Studying a master’s while working full time can become isolating, especially if you’re studying online. It’s important to identify and reach out to your support networks to stay motivated and maintain balance. This could include:

  • Connecting with classmates to socialise and help each other stay on track, whether that’s catching up after class or participating in online group chats.
  • Having open conversations with friends to help them understand that while you may not be as available as you used to be, you still want to remain connected.
  • Carving out dedicated time to spend with your family.
  • Speaking to your employer about your desire to study and finding out what support they can offer.

5. Find out what makes you buzz

Ultimately, whether you can do a master’s and work full time is a personal decision. As such, finding the right study techniques will be equally as personal.

Some may find the constant buzz of working full time and studying to be satisfying and rewarding, while some may prefer to reduce their study load to part time to support their work/life balance.

Some may operate better on the weekends, while some may prefer to squeeze in their study before or after work.

Others, like Natasha, may find taking breaks throughout their degree to be the best path to success. “Whatever is going to work for you, look at that and then adjust along the way.”

Benefits of online study

Studying remotely has become increasingly popular, with the number of students choosing e-learning going from 21 per cent to 29 per cent over the past decade.

The success of online delivery is largely due to the range of benefits it offers students, which in turn leads to better retention, positive sentiment and improved learning outcomes.

According to a study by Shift eLearning, online learning resulted in a 25 per cent to 60 per cent retention rate, versus 8 per cent to 10 per cent for on-campus students.

Sarah Macleod is the director and founder at Bourke St. the Label. She is no stranger to juggling work and study, undertaking an MBA part time online while also working a nine-to-five and running a small business.

For Sarah, online delivery makes studying for her MBA and working full time possible.

“While I would have loved the opportunity to study full time and in person, fundamentally this was not an option, as it would have meant leaving work and sacrificing my income”.

“Online study has allowed me to continue working, and it has given me the flexibility to fit study around my work/life schedule.”

How MBA Discovery can help

If you’re interested in studying for an MBA and working full time, it’s important to find the course that works for you.

MBA Discovery helps you compare degrees from some of the top Australian universities. This allows you to see your options side by side, to better understand what’s most suitable for your career goals and lifestyle — whether you’re looking to upskill, get into a management position or try something new.

By comparing courses with MBA Discovery, you’ll clearly see key information, including:

Can I study while working full time?

So, can you do a master’s and work full time? The short answer is yes.

With the right structures and support, studying and working full time is possible and can be hugely beneficial to your career. Not only will you advance your professional life, but you may learn more about yourself, your work style and ways that you can enhance your work/life balance.

Want to learn more?

To find the MBA that works for you, compare our programs and submit an enquiry. A Student Enrolment Advisor from your chosen university will get in touch to help you start the process.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning

Course structure and what you will study

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