How to Choose the Right Part-Time Master Degree
Whether paying for less sleep is a good idea
We both studied the part-time Master in Management program from 2018 to 2020. Based on our experiences, we have developed a set of questions that, in retrospect, would have helped us to understand how to choose a part-time master’s degree and more generally helped us answer the question: Is a part-time master the right choice for us? The original article introducing our 3-step framework can be found on Medium.com. Below we have included the graphic overview of the framework.
In the following article, we are happy to share what we have learned during our time at HHL. We hope our framework helps you make an informed decision based on your personal preference and life goals.
1) What drives your decision to study part-time?
The first thing you should ask yourself is: What is the purpose of studying a part-time master’s program? To determine this, we’ve found the following three categories to be very helpful: Door-opening power of the degree you’re aiming at, the program’s financial requirements, and your willingness to challenge yourself.
As a private business school, HHL offers a wide range of options to stay on top of various research topics. Researchers and professors publish their findings regularly in well-established journals. Hence, from the standpoint of reputation, HHL is a very reputable institution to choose. This is regularly confirmed by good positions in international rankings. You can access the most recent overview at Business school ranking | HHL Leipzig.
Another fact to consider with regards to the door-opening power is the network of alumni the institution can provide you with. With around 2.500 active alumni and a deep-rooted network in various industries, you can be assured to benefit from the alumni network at HHL.
Studying at a business school requires a certain financial investment. Depending on the HHL master’s program you choose, you can expect program costs of above 25k EUR. Working part-time will help to make such a substantial investment. In addition, HHL also offers other financing alternatives, such as scholarships.
For both of us, the wish to challenge ourselves was one of the main reasons we wanted to study part-time. Our goal was to move beyond our own limitations—and if you ask us, we succeeded in that. Choosing HHL allows everybody to challenge her/himself. You just need to do one thing: really make use of all the personal and academic development opportunities that are offered to you. For instance, you can join the Venture Capital Club, which has a chapter for part-time students.
We learned how to meaningfully prioritize and solve problems in an effective and efficient way. For both of us, the combination of learning something new, challenging ourselves and using newly gained knowledge in practice has been the perfect blend.
2) Do you feel okay spending a significant share of your spare time studying?
One of the most common worries about studying while working full-time is probably the fear that you’ll spend most of the time you’re awake working or studying. Does this sound terrible and like it might conflict with your current goals for your private life (e.g. team sports, travelling etc.)? Even if your first reaction is “Yes!!!”, we’d like to encourage you to dive a bit deeper into this before closing this article and burning your part-time brochure.
Our framework contains three action steps to help you find the right part-time master degree:
Step #1: Sketch a broad time schedule
Step #2: Consult your personal environment
Step #3 Talk to the program’s alumni
In this article, we focus on step one. To be able to sketch a time schedule, you’ll need to know how much time studying part-time will actually take. We have therefore broken down our workload. We hope this helps you to create a broad timeline for yourself.
Studying part-time at HHL means that you need to attend lectures one weekend per month (mostly starting Friday afternoon and ending Sunday evening). In addition, there is one week of lectures at Leipzig per semester, which mostly begins on Monday and ends on Saturday afternoon. For a part-time study program, this is excellent, at least in our opinion, since we could attend lectures in person. Many such programs consist mostly of self-study work. However, a side effect is that a significant number of your weekends are blocked for lectures and, depending on where you live, you might also need to travel (which is currently reduced by the COVID-19 situation).
Apart from the course weekends, you will need to invest additional time into preparation and assignments. As your weekends will sometimes be blocked, studying will certainly become part of your typical workday.
As a rule of thumb: Plan to spend an average of three hours a day studying (meaning that it can be more on the weekends and less during the week). Our program did not include many semester breaks, so you’ll most likely also devote a significant share of your days off to studying.
Additionally, we engaged in extracurricular activities like committees and student clubs which added another time factor to our schedule. This didn’t stop us from getting good grades, due to constantly working on our time management skills. What’s more, we were also able to mostly stick to our sports preferences and are still in contact with most of our friends. Hence, we concluded that it’s worth sleeping a little less for being able to benefit from this study program.
Being allowed to grow beyond your own borders, getting empowered to be an effective, responsible business leader and spending time with people who help you to develop, not because they have to, but they want to—that’s what we feel is HHL Spirit.
3) How can your job contribute to your development during your part-time program?
In our original framework, we propose three categories to answer this question: Time expenditure & flexibility, Learning leverage potential, and Future job requirements. As the last category might differ significantly with regards to your individual circumstances we are going to focus on the first two. If you want to dive deeper into the third category, feel free to use our framework found in our long-form article on Medium.
The part-time study program will demand a lot from you and will add a significant workload to your schedule. Even though the part-time programs at HHL are well organized to fit the demands of students who work in a full-time job, we both can recommend talking to your employer before applying. It helps to set up a plan with your supervisor in advance to make sure the study and workload is being considered.
We both benefited a lot from the combination of a challenging job and the part-time program at HHL. We not only felt fulfilled by what we did but also were also able to become better at our jobs by transferring new knowledge from our lectures to our day-to-day work. We can therefore recommend leveraging your learning potential and profit from your study experience long-term. Your job and the study program should be mutually enriching.
So all in all, we did learn a lot—not only with regards to business knowledge but also about ourselves. We learned how to meaningfully prioritize and solve problems in an effective and efficient way. For both of us, the combination of learning something new, challenging ourselves and using newly gained knowledge in practice has been the perfect blend. We further developed a deep-rooted network of fellow students we not only call “contacts” but many of whom we are honored to call “friends”.
HHL Spirit empowers you to lead responsibly
If you ever hear about the mysterious “HHL Spirit”, well, being allowed to grow beyond your own borders, getting empowered to be an effective, responsible business leader and spending time with people who help you to develop, not because they have to, but they want to—that’s what we feel is HHL Spirit.