Deciding if a part-time or full-time online Master of Legal Studies Program is right for you entails weighing several different factors. You will need to assess your time commitments, finances, work/life balance, career trajectory and personal learning style. Whether you choose a part-time or full-time program, the good news is that you do not have to worry about sacrificing the quality of your education. Both part-time and full-time options at any given school receive the same level of education, same course content, same professors, and same academic resources. Online MLS programs will present a wealth of new concepts, theories, and case studies. It is important that you chose the program type that will allow you, in your unique circumstance, the best opportunity to learn and master the complexities the US legal system. Ultimately, making the right decision will help to set you off on a path toward success. So what do you need to know to decide which option is best for you?
You will need to ask yourself:
How much time can I commit to my studies?
Do I need to earn your degree within a set period of time?
Can I afford to not work, or work just part-time?
What are the income tax implications of returning to school?
If I have to maintain a full-time job while I study, will I be able to maintain my family obligations?
Will I qualify for financial aid if I only attend part-time?
Will I be able to maintain my focus if I only attend part-time?
Do I be more successful with immersion into my studies full-time?
Is your company reimbursing a part of your tuition?
Below you will find some considerations that will help you decide which option may be best for you.
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Part-time programs often allow students the time and flexibility to maintain their current jobs. If you have family or social obligations, part-time programs can allow you to set aside time for those priorities. If your company is helping you pay for your Master of Legal Studies, then the part-time option will allow you the time to continue to work in your current career. Additionally, continuing to work may mean graduating without having student loan debt. Part-time programs allow you to pay as you go, lessening the financial burden of tuition bills. When you continue to work while studying for your Master or Legal Studies, you may be able to apply what you are learning to your current career. Applying the legal concepts you are learning may help you to be more successful at work and increase understanding and comprehension of what you are learning. Transitioning from a working professional to a full-time student can be difficult. Part-time programs can allow you to ease into that transition.1
Drawbacks of Part-Time
Part-time programs take on average, an additional year to complete. Tuition tends to increase with time. As part-time programs take longer to complete, tuition may increase during that time. Full-time programs are fast and focused and allow students to immerse themselves in their studies, which often can mean an increased understanding of the principles and theories. Part-time students will have to work hard to maintain their focus and dedication as the classes will be spread out over time. Part-time students often qualify for less financial aid. If you continue to work while in school, then you may remain in a higher tax bracket, which could disqualify you for financial aid.2
Income Tax Implications
As a student, you may qualify for both federal and state educational tax credits such as the Lifetime Learning Credit and the Opportunity Credit. It is important that you check with a tax professional, the IRS, or your school’s financial aid department to see if full-time or part-time status will affect which tax credits you may qualify for.
List of Online Master of Legal Studies Programs Offering Part-Time Study Options
Online Master of Legal Studies Programs Offering Part-Time Study Options