Is Juggling a Job and a Part-time Masters Degree Really Do-able?

By the SMU Social Media Team

Everyone might be talking about achieving “work-life balance”, but for others who are considering a part-time postgraduate degree programme, it’s all about finding that “work-study balance” while holding down a full-time job.

It would be ideal to take a sabbatical or leave a full-time job to fully focus on postgraduate studies, but that might not be a viable option for many who still need a steady income for daily expenses and to fund their tuition fees, or don’t want to lose their spot on the career track. And what about taking on night courses to get your next degree? Well, the thought of working in the day and rushing off to full-on lectures at night sounds a tad intimidating, to say the least.

So why would anyone with a clean bill of mental health even consider a part-time postgraduate programme? For starters, having that additional degree would give you an edge over your peers in the increasingly competitive workforce. Or there might be a subject you love and always wished you could pursue, to complement your current skill set or even embark upon a new job trajectory.

These days, with a host of postgraduate programmes available, fine-tuned to be flexible enough to fit the busy schedules of working professionals, juggling a job with postgrad studies can be a reality—not just for those who already deserve a doctorate in multi-tasking. Here are some ways you could cope with a job and part-time postgrad studies:


Manage Expectations

Truth be told, being a full-time working student isn’t a proverbial walk in the park. If your main means of surviving a tough work day is visualising yourself sipping on a cocktail at happy hour as soon as 6pm comes around, then perhaps you need a drastic mind shift to start a part-time postgrad programme. Your social life might take a bit of a back seat while you’re enrolled in a programme, so time management is key so as to allocate quality time for your loved ones, or taking care of yourself to avoid a burnout. Also, don’t keep your student status a secret. Inform an understanding boss of your situation, and he/she might even allow you to negotiate some flexible work-from-home days during crucial exam periods. But, as far as possible, try not to allow your studies to interfere with your work and inconvenience your team.


Choose a Programme That Fits Your Pace

For some, buckling down to complete their Masters programme in as little time as possible might be a priority. Many postgrad degrees like SMU’s Master of Science in Innovation, Master of Human Capital Leadership or the Master of Science in Communication Management, for example, offer intensive part-time programmes that can be completed in just 15–18 months.


Pick a School Wisely

There are many factors that come into play when deciding on the perfect school for pursuing a part-time postgrad degree. Often, the key objective for furthering one’s studies is to remain relevant and be able to keep pace with, or even lead, in an ever-changing global economy. Indeed, you need to pick a conveniently-located (imagine rushing from work to class at rush hour), top educational environment aimed at growing business leaders, entrepreneurs and independent, creative thinkers. As Dr Themin Suwardy, Dean of SMU Postgraduate Professional Programmes explains, “with its city campus right in the heart of Singapore and Asia, [SMU] offers you unparalleled networking and career opportunities.”


Constantly Tweak Your Level of Work-study Balance

While there’s a nagging fear that completing an essay on a work night might affect your focus at the crucial meeting the morning after, avoid allowing your course work to take a back seat to your job responsibilities. It might be tempting to “cruise” through your studies, but part-time education does not equate to a part-time commitment to your school work. Think about the investment you have made in terms of fees and time, and motivate yourself to give postgrad studies your best shot during this intensive, and relatively short period of time.


Find out more about SMU’s Postgraduate Professional Programmes today. Meet the SMU Masters team and get your questions answered at the upcoming SMU Masters Day 2018, coming 31 March