Author Topic: Should I do grad school part time or full time?  (Read 2072 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Should I do grad school part time or full time?
« on: March 16, 2016, 06:10:50 AM »
Hi guys! Wanted some advice. I just recently got in to graduate school in my chosen field. A masters is required to work in the field, so I do have to go. That said, my program offers a full time option (2 years) or a part time option (3 years) and I'm struggling to decide what to do. The full time option would be a little cheaper tuition wise and obviously also graduates me sooner so I can be making a higher income faster.  The part time option would allow me to work part time and also allow for more flexibility--I have a 2.5 year old son and a husband who I'm sure would also like to see me from time to time. My husband does not really make enough money to completely support us right now (he's been having health issues so he only works part time), but I have about $300,000 in liquid assets that could support us during this time. We also own our home outright. I think we could keep our expenses to around 35k per year while I'm in school and I should make around 70-80,000 a year when I graduate.

There is some possibility that certain internships/clinic hours would be paid during the full-time program, but it's not something I can count on. And if it is paid, it's very little--but perhaps not much less than what I would make at a part time job.

Also--if I do the full time option I really can't work at all. Not without potentially failing and/or missing out completely on the next 2 years of my son's life.

Would love to hear what you all think would be the smartest option.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Should I do grad school part time or full time?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2016, 06:28:00 AM »
I'll also add that at my current job (the one I'd do part time) I don't make too much. About $15 an hour before taxes.


  • Stubble
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Re: Should I do grad school part time or full time?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2016, 07:06:03 AM »
Really depends on a few other factors:

- amount of scholarship opportunities for FT vs PT students. Full-time students usually have more student assistance available to them and can be pretty key - I got about 60% of my Masters paid by institution issued scholarships and the rest from internships.
- The difference in tuition between FT and PT. How much more expensive is FT?
- If you did PT, what type of PT job would you get (manual labour, retail, admin etc...), how much you'd work per week, and what pay you would get. If it wound up being a minimum wage job, you might find your time commitment to the PT school + PT job about the same as a FT education commitment. On the other hand, if your part time job makes a good wage, that buys you more time.

At the end of the day though, beyond just the money and the time - it's what you think will make you the happiest. Full-time schooling also does offer time off - there are spring breaks + reading weeks + long weekends + quiet exam periods too!

Retire in CO

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Should I do grad school part time or full time?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2016, 08:59:42 AM »
Do you plan on a bigger family? Would this be in the next 2-3 years? Is there strong demand for the job that this degree will provide? If so, and based on the $300,000 cushion...full-time/2 year path! This is more of a mental approach than anything else. Much easier to stay motivated when you attack something aggressively and stay focused. People often do not complete grad degrees when it drags out and life gets in the way.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Should I do grad school part time or full time?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2016, 09:27:51 AM »
I told myself I would not go to graduate school unless someone else paid for it and that's what happened. I understand that it is much more difficult to get funding if you are pursuing a non-research degree (as it sounds in your case). Have you considered working for your prospective dept/college to gain some experience in your field and then taking advantage of tax-free, no-cost tuition?

I would also say that if you are paying for it then just go full steam because nothing would be worse than shelling out some money and losing steam because your life gets pulled in several directions.


  • Stubble
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Re: Should I do grad school part time or full time?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2016, 10:45:00 AM »
I agree with the previous posters. Typically scholarships and other forms of financial assistance (GA positions specifically) are only available to full-time students. At a $15/hour wage, I don't believe that it's worth it to continue working part-time.

The calculation will look something like this:

For the full time option:
- Opportunity costs of not being able to work part-time ($11-14/hr depending on your commute, tax situation and any work related expenses)
- Lost work experience for those 2 years. This is only relevant if your job is in a related field or has the potential for growth.

For the part-time option:
- Additional tuition cost
- Lost wages from the additional year you'll spend earning your degree
- Potential loss of tuition assistance or opportunities only available to FT students
- Stress of trying to balance work, school and family

This seems like a pretty straightforward decision since you have the financial resources to go full-time.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Should I do grad school part time or full time?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2016, 11:53:38 AM »
If you had good grades in undergrad you can probably gt a full ride for your master's degree if you go f.t. Some even provide a monthly stipend to help with living costs.  I used this for 2 of my 3 grad degrees.


  • Stubble
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Re: Should I do grad school part time or full time?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2016, 03:43:40 AM »
Would need more information to give my recommendation, but it seems like FT is fine. Just curious where is this $300k of liquid assets coming from?

Questions to consider:
What field are you going into? How competitive are jobs? Do you need to network and be at the top of your class to land a decent job? (if so, lean towards FT) What is your expected income after completion? Does 1-year of take home from the new job exceed 3 years of part-time work? Do you expect to be a better student as FT versus PT?