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Thomas Clapper | Crown College 

Graduate school can be an important step in your future. Balancing it with your work, family, and life can be a challenging but great experience. Why Start grad school?

Pursuing a graduate degree can be an essential step in developing yourself as a person. Going deeper in your understanding of a subject you are passionate about is not only an amazing accomplishment but can also further your career. Whatever the reason you are interested in pursuing a degree beyond your bachelor’s degree, it is vital to make sure that the program can fit your life.

Fitting A master’s program
Choosing to start a master’s degree is just one step along the way. Finding a program that actually works for you is just as important. Here are some questions that can help you navigate if a program is right for you:

  • Is the program in-person, entirely online, or hybrid?
  • Are you ready to start a full-time program, or are you looking for something part-time? 
  • How many credits are required to complete the program? 
  • How many weeks does it take to complete a course?
  • Are classes asynchronous, or do you need to be in class at a particular time on specific days?

By answering these questions, you are well on your way to choosing your school and the best program to accomplish your goals.

Let’s break down these key terms.
In-person programs: These are graduate programs that require you to sit in-person at a campus.

Online programs: These are courses that only require a device that connects to the internet. Often courses are asynchronous.

Hybrid programs: These programs take place primarily online but offer an in-person component. For an example of a hybrid program, check out this  college learning center.

Synchronous classes: These can be online or in-person courses, but they require you to be somewhere at a specific time. Even if your program is 100% online, it may need you to log on to the online course at 7 PM on a Wednesday. This can disrupt work, family life, or your involvement in your local church.

Asynchronous classes: You can complete your coursework throughout the weekend, and you are typically only required to submit your work a couple of times a week. 

How could I fit in work?
If you have a job you love, there is no reason for graduate schools to get in the way of continuing your career. However, unless your job is incredibly flexible and located in the same city as the school you are hoping to attend, the main attribute of graduate school you should be looking for is flexibility. 

By choosing a program that is 100% online, you can complete your program from literally anywhere that you have internet access. Whether your job requires a lot of travel, or you just want to complete part of your coursework during your lunch break, a fully online program creates the greatest flexibility when it comes to location.

An asynchronous program can be vital in getting your coursework completed around your work schedule. Instead of dictating your agenda around your course times, you can complete your work on your own time. For instance, you may have a reading and a discussion question due on Thursday by midnight and a paper or larger project due Sunday before midnight. This means that you can work full-time and finish your schoolwork after you get home.

Finding courses that are shorter and programs that require fewer credits can be key in finishing your programs quickly. Many courses will be something like eight weeks long. This is a perfect amount of time to dive deep into the subject, but it will also keep you on track to graduate within a few years. Finding a shorter program can have some drawbacks; for instance, you will not spend as much time with the material. However, if your program is fully accredited and short, the payoff can be worth it. It means you get your degree more quickly. For instance, an M.B.A. can be 60 credits, which means that it can take 3-4 years to complete. However, programs can be as short as 36 credits and, under the right circumstances, can be completed within 12 months.

Why add to the hustle + bustle?
It can be challenging to get everything done. The lawn has to be mowed, the family needs to be taken care of, and work can be stressful. However, taking 2-3 years to invest in yourself and your future will always be time and money well spent. Not only will you gain practical knowledge that you can take right back into the workplace, but you will gain valuable skills that can help you live a more fulfilled life. Plus, school is an investment, and the ability to continue to work can help keep up with the cost of attending school.

Grad school is not for every person and certainly is not a decision that should be taken lightly. If you have decided that graduate school is the right next step for you, finding the right fit can make or break your experience. Consider programs that offer flexibility so that you can continue to balance your work life, school life, and family life all at the same time.


Thomas Clapper Bio: Thomas graduated from Crown in 2013, was a pastor for four years, and then returned for his Master’s degree. Thomas loves helping share the message of Crown with the world. Some of his other interests include theology, tech, and woodworking.

Crown College (St. Bonifacius, MN)Crown College is a place where you can engage in flexible and personalized learning. Crown’s practical courses move your education outside of the classroom and into the real world. Whether on-campus or online, our Christ-centered focus overflows into everything we do, inspiring you to show excellence in your passio, regardless of your calling. 

Can I Work While Attending Grad School?