Distance learning masters programs haven’t always been as popular as they are right now and more and more universities are adopting the tactic of offering a long-distance masters degree for their students.
What is a distance learning masters?
A distance learning masters is a degree that you undertake at your own pace at home via online lectures and assignments instead of attending a physical university.
Just because you’ll be starting a distance learning masters degree doesn’t mean you’ll be on your own. Anyone taking on a distance learning masters degree will have support and guidance with their tutor and lecturers, much like any other student, but it just won’t be face-to-face. You can have discussions about your work via email or phone and through feedback on your assignments.
Online learning is not an isolated way of studying, you’re just doing it in your own time and in most cases, in the comfort of your home, or a cafe/library! You’ll be studying alongside other online students, and sharing experiences and ideas.
Fellow students will come from a range of backgrounds, with many also studying from outside the UK. Conversations can take place via debates on ‘discussion boards’ online that are pinned to your course - similar to when you’ll do it in a seminar or lecture at a physical university.
Some courses require students to attend face-to-face lectures and briefs, but for the most part, students will work from home.
If you need more time learning a particular topic you can allocate more time to ensure you’ve digested it.
What technical requirements are there for distance learning master’s degree?
As you will be studying at home there are some technical requirements to ensure you get the best support you can, so you have everything you need to complete the course.
This will include access to a computer, the internet, and an up-to-date web browser, so that all materials and information are always available to you at any time. Most universities with distance learning masters courses will have IT support for all students who encounter technical difficulties.
Check with your university and individual course before you start to make sure you have everything you need to get going. As each institution that offers masters distance learning courses may have various checklists. Even if two separate universities offer a masters in Education distance learning, they could have different requirements!
Should I study a distance learning master’s degree?
Studying a distance learning masters degree in the UK isn’t too different than attending physical lectures and seminars at university. The social aspect is slightly different but it doesn’t mean you won’t have any contact with peers.
For example, a masters in Special Education Needs distance learning course will feature regular contact with pupils across the world, as well as the staff at the university. Further, universities ensure their online environment is designed to support and encourage collaborative learning. You shouldn’t feel left out just because you’re studying online!
One benefit is that you can study from anywhere in the world, whether it’s in bed or at a Starbucks in town. Some universities have thousands of students in more than 100 countries enrolled in distance learning masters.
You will also have access to the same support services as on-campus students, with hundreds of thousands of electronic books and e-journals available in the library - which other students access the same way.
Just because you’ll be starting a distance learning masters degree doesn’t mean you’ll be on your own.
What are the benefits of a distance learning master’s degree?
Online learning is flexible and convenient so that you can study around your busy schedule, and work and life commitments. Most students are working while they study, which is why these degrees are so popular.
You’ll have a flexible study schedule, where you read textbooks and watch lectures at a time and location that suits you. You won’t have to attend a 9am lecture, or do a reading that night, but you will just have to work to the deadline.
A postgraduate qualification can help with your career, salary and job opportunities, so a distance learning masters degree could be a step in the right direction.
Are there CIPD accredited masters distance learning courses?
There are many courses that are CIPD accredited (The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development). It’s the main professional body to accredit and award professional human resources qualifications - HR. These types of courses are recognised by HR and training specialists in the UK’s private, public and charity sectors.
Not all degrees need to be accredited, it depends on whether there is a professional body in that field that offers expertise or specialisation.
If you’re looking for an accredited course online check with the university beforehand.
Who provides distance learning masters courses?
Hundreds of universities offer the chance to study online, whether it’s UCL distance learning masters courses or a masters in Economics distance learning programme or something similar at Manchester Metropolitan University.
First, you should find out what type of course you want to do and then work out which universities offer that degree. Then you can apply for that programme and go through the enrollment process if accepted.
What is flexible studying?
Flexible learning goes hand-in-hand with studying online, because you can study when and where it suits you, whilst working at your own pace.
If you need more time learning a particular topic you can allocate more time to ensure you’ve digested it. Whereas at an on-campus lecture, you can’t control how long the professor discusses each topic and they’ll most likely move on leaving you to work it out through independent learning anyway.
There are no set lecture or seminar times so you can choose when to study, but you need to ensure you do set time aside to do the work or you could be left behind.
Online students need to be more self-motivated and determined than on-campus learners in a way, as you’ll need to be stricter on yourself. It’s easier to procrastinate when you don’t have to attend physical lectures or answer to a lecturer standing in front of you.
Most distance learning masters students spend around 10 to 20 hours of studying per week, depending on the duration of your course and how difficult it is. A distance learning Theology masters may require more reading compared to a masters in Child Psychology distance learning programme, which may have more lecture slides. How you manage that time, from writing and reading and learning, is up to you.
Some online degrees are split to either two or three terms, with core teaching and learning activities taking place throughout the term and then a masters dissertation in the final term.
Studying a distance learning masters degree in the UK isn’t too different than attending physical lectures and seminars at university.
Can you study a distance learning masters overseas?
Essentially yes! As the courses are online anyone approved can enroll. Universities provide their distance learning masters programmes entirely online, through lectures, seminars and online assignments. That means that can be done anywhere - even in another country.
Some institutions have thousands of students from more than 100 countries on their programmes, so you could be someone who is enrolled at a university abroad.
It doesn’t matter where you choose to study, just ensure it’s the right fit for you. Universities hold prestigious and world-renowned reputation for their quality and teaching, and it’s important you make sure to research what respected university is the perfect choice for you. Don’t choose somewhere because you like the sound of it or believe you’ll definitely be accepted, as it may turn out the degree isn’t valued as highly as others because it was completed at a university that isn’t highly ranked in the world league tables.
When finding out where you should apply to, read up on the ranking score, what previous students have said of their experience, and ensure it’s an official university.