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Is A Part-time Degree More Cost Effective Than A Full-time Degree? We Explore 4 Reasons Why This Could Be The Case

Will pursuing a part-time degree make financial sense for you?


This article was written in collaboration with Kaplan. All views expressed in the article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg

Despite efforts in Singapore to reduce the emphasis on academic qualifications, a university degree is still very much seen as the key that opens doors to many career opportunities.

At the same time, earning it comes with its own set of costs. Beyond putting in the required effort to study for exams and complete your course work, the tuition fees for a degree aren’t cheap either. Furthermore, there is also the opportunity cost of not working that you need to consider.

Thus, studying part-time for a degree is an increasingly attractive option that many Singaporeans are considering these days. Both local and private universities offer a variety of part-time degree courses that students can opt for. Some universities (such as Birmingham City University in partnership with Kaplan in Singapore) mainly focus on part-time degree programmes designed to help adults achieve their goals of attaining a degree while working.

Pursuing a degree, whether full-time or part-time, local or overseas, isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Here are 4 factors that you should consider before you make your choice.

#1 Duration

Unlike full-time students who can choose to completely dedicate themselves to their studies, working adults are likely to have to juggle between multiple commitments such as their work, family and studies.

If you are thinking of pursuing a part-time degree, you should consider the time needed for you to attain it and whether or not you are able to commit to completing it.

If a degree takes three years to complete, you have to ensure that the duration is suitable for you. For example, if you intend to get married, have kids or are aiming to get an overseas posting during this period, it might be unfeasible for you to pursue your degree at the same time.

In general, most working adults would want to complete their studies as quickly as possible. Birmingham City University’s programmes that are provided through Kaplan in Singapore, allow students to complete its programme and graduate within a year with direct honours.

#2 Total Cost

There are two main aspects to cost that we need to consider.

The first is tuition fees. Most of us living in Singapore would know that the cost of getting a degree can be quite high. Tuition fees for local universities (NUS, NTU, SMU) typically range from between $8,200 to $12,000 or more each year, which means that a 4-year Arts & Social Sciences programme would cost around $32,800, with other courses offered by local universities being even more costly. The full course fees for SIT and SUSS degree programmes are about $25,000 to $35,000.

Read Also: 2018 Cost Guide: Singapore Universities’ Tuition Fee Comparison

Besides the tuition fees you are paying, you should also consider the opportunity cost that you are incurring, especially if you are pursuing a full-time degree, which requires you to stop working.

For each year you study full-time, you are also giving up the opportunity to work full-time and earn an income for yourself. Assuming that you could have earned $2,500 per month, this adds up to $30,000 each year. A 2-year degree course would result in an opportunity cost of $60,000.

Pursuing a part-time degree will allow you to reduce your opportunity cost since you can continue working full-time while studying, and many part-time students are also able to use their salary to pay for their tuition fees, allowing them to complete their studies without a student loan.

For example, the tuition fee for the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Business Administration (Top-up) offered by Birmingham City University is $14,231. Since it’s a part-time Degree, students can also continue working full-time if they wish to do so, thus negating the opportunity cost of not being able to work.

#3 Structure of Lessons

Expecting a part-time student to pursue a course designed for full-time students is neither fair nor realistic. With full-time jobs and their own family to care for, part-time students will likely need a course programme that is structured around them.

This might mean having lessons on weekday evenings, which allow students to focus on one module at a time, rather than multiple modules which are taken and completed simultaneously.

If you are taking a part-time degree, ensure that the course structure is designed in a way that fits your schedule, as well as work and family commitments.

#4 Campus Location

If you are pursuing a full-time degree, you may not consider your campus location as much because you could reason to yourself that 1) you will have enough time to travel to school each day and 2) may even have the option to live on campus if necessary.

However, as a part-time student, location matters. A lot.

Imagine if you are working in the east and your campus that is situated at the other end of the island. Taking a 1.5 hour one-way commute via public transport is not only going to be difficult, but probably quite unsustainable. More likely than not, you will find yourself missing or being late for classes and project meetings.

A school campus situated within the central region of Singapore is likely to be much more convenient for part-time students who are working within the CBD. For instance, both of Kaplan’s campuses are situated near the Central Business District, which would make it more convenient for working professionals.

Find Out More About The Part-Time Degree You Are Going For

With ample educational opportunities and universities to choose from, it’s important that you choose a programme which is going to be suitable for you in terms of your interests, and the programme’s cost, structure and duration.

Birmingham City University is one of the largest universities in the UK, with 23,500 students from 80 countries. It provides industry-relevant modules with a well-paced study schedule designed for busy executives. Its Degrees, which are mostly assignment-based, can be completed in a year, which makes them suitable for working adults seeking to upgrade themselves.

If you are a working professional considering further studies, you can find out more about their degree programmes and disciplines, including Accounting, Banking & Finance, Business & Management, Education & Social Sciences and Law here.