How do I get a Distance Learning MSc?

Jillian O Keeffe

With the growth of online learning and practical access to learning tools such as specialized software and course material on CD, distance learning has been made more practical than ever before. The initial step toward gaining a distance learning master's degree in science (MSc) is to choose a course that is right for your career. Many courses are now offered by distance learning and, if you have always wanted to learn at a specific university but have not had the free time or the ability to move close enough to campus to attend, a distance learning MSc could be a suitable option.

A woman taking a distance learning class for an MSc.
A woman taking a distance learning class for an MSc.

After choosing your course through investigating an online prospectus or two from your preferred colleges, you need to check on whether the distance learning MSc is accepted in your field as a valid qualification before investing any more time or money. The best way to do this is to check your country's accredited lists of universities or third-level colleges; if the distance learning MSc is offered in another country, canvass professionals in the area of expertise to find out if the foreign qualification is accepted. Most distance learning MSc courses are taught master's, so ensure you do not require a research master's for your career choice before enrolling in a taught course.

Once you have established that the master's course is of a good standard, sort out your finances and ensure you will be able to pay the fees for the duration of the course. Consider taking out a loan if required. When you are sure you will be financially secure, consider the amount of time the distance learning MSc will take, especially if you will continue to work full-time. The majority of distance learning courses specify the amount of time you should allocate per week to study, so plan out blocks of time in your week and ensure your workload and family time allow for this.

Be sure you have a computer and an Internet connection in your home to cater to the requirements of the course. Most courses mail out material in book and CD form but also make use of online postings and forums for students and lecturers to exchange information. You may need to install specific software that the course providers will send you as part of your master's syllabus.

Join a study group and don't be shy about asking questions of your lecturers to get a grasp on the subject matter. Finally, begin networking with people outside of the course who have expertise in your chosen field. As well as providing you with information and support on the subject you are studying, networking may also open up job opportunities for you when you have completed your distance learning MSc.

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