years to masterIt is important to learn how long it will take to realistically complete a master’s degree before you begin applying to specific types of programs. A majority of graduate students who are in the process of earning their master’s degree and are enrolled in a full-time program are under the impression that they will graduate from school within two years. While full-time programs only take 2 years to complete, life happens and some students are not able to commit the same amount of time to school as they were able to commit when attending undergraduate school.

It can take you several years to earn a master’s degree if you cannot complete 15 credits each semester in a traditional program. Even students who initially enroll as a full-time student may be forced to switch their enrollment status at some point if they are overloaded. Read on, and learn what you need to know about the duration of a program so that you know what to expect before you enroll.

Duration Depends on the Type of Degree that you are Earning

There is not just one type of master’s degree program available to students. In fact, there are several different options that you can choose from that cater to a different type of student with a different set of scheduling needs. The average on-campus program, where students must attend class several days per week, will take 18 months to two years to complete. The actual duration depends on the number of credits that you must earn to complete your degree. If you take a distance education program full-time, duration expectations should be the same but the scheduling options are far more flexible because you can complete the coursework at any time of day.

What to Expect When you Enroll Part-time

If you are a full-time employee or parent, you may need to consider enrolling in a part-time master’s degree program. Part-time programs have classes in the evenings or on the weekends to cater to a professional’s needs. The class load for part-time students can vary, but you generally will take only one or two courses each semester. The number of courses that you take each semester will dictate how much time you will spend earning your degree. It will usually take two-and-a-half  to five years to earn a degree, and some institutions will only allow you a certain amount of time to complete your master’s even when attending part-time.

Dual Program Durations

If you are attending school to earn two master’s degrees in similar or related areas, you may expect to spend a great deal of time earning these terminal degrees. Some schools have dual degree programs, where you have the option to take a joint program where all of the classes pertain to both subject areas. Most of these programs will take you four to 10 years to complete, but in the end you will have two Master’s degrees.

The key to taking the right master’s degree program is to choose a degree that is in demand. Once you identify the best and the worst master’s degrees on lists like this one by Forbes, you can look for programs. Be sure you are realistic with the schedule that you choose, and then you can complete a master’s degree on time.