What type of Grad Program is Right for Me?

So you think you want to go back school to continue your education? It seems like a great idea(and it very well might be) if you take the time find the right fit for your situation. The purpose of this post is to get you thinking about what path you might choose. Look for upcoming posts that go into more depth on the 4 main ways to earn your Master’s Degree.

You might be  itching to get back into working on your musicianship and teaching. Maybe your job is less than diserable or just not the right fit. You aspire to teaching at the collegiate level. Your district is offering compensation for continuing your education. Maybe you just need to be “recharge” your musical batteries. Of course, I would be niave to think that the salary increase isn’t a motivator on some level. Whatever the reason there are a variety of ways out there to earn your advanced degree.

The four main ways to earn your Master’s Degree:

1. Return to a university full-time for study.

2. Earn your degree a few classes at a time in the evenings and summers.

3. Summer only course of study.

4. Online programs.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each path. Ultimately, you must chose what is right for you. Let me offer a few suggestions.

You are a full-time teacher who is happy with your job. You can’t imagine leaving your students or school, but you know you’d be a better teacher if you took some more coursework. If that’s the case I recommend looking into programs that will allow you to study evenings and summers while keeping your job. Many universities offer programs like this.

You don’t want to leave your job, but you want to be more immersed in a program of study. I recommend finding a summer only program. Some of these programs can be completed in as little as three summers and will offer a more hands on approach to learning.

For the teacher who is really strapped for time and doesn’t have a way to commit to a regular schedule of classes there are online programs. Even though I’m a techie, I’m not completely sold on these programs because of the lack of face time with your teachers. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but if you’re planning on going on to a D.M.A. or Ph.D. these degrees will not hold as much weight. Make sure you really check out the accreditation of any online programs as well.

If you are in place in your life where you can take the plunge and go back to school full-time, I recommend it. The immersion in your learning is worth it, if it is feasible for you (both personally and financially). In my opinion, this is absolutely neccessary if you want to get into college teaching or shooting for your terminal degree.

I hope now you’re thinking a little about what course of study might be right for you. In the next series of posts I will roll out some specific information on each of the four ways to pursue a graduate degree. Stay tuned!

Want to talk about it? Find me on Twitter @KFreesen or comment here!

Related posts:

  1. Should I or Shouldn’t I? Things to Think About for Graduate School
  2. Majoring in Music Education: Graduate vs Undergraduate
  3. A Word from a New Editor
  4. #MusEdChat Recap – Experience (6-14-10)
  5. #MusEdChat Recap- Innovations (10-4-10)
  • http://twitter.com/Julie2884 Julie Manfredi

    Hi Kyle,

    I am currently finishing my grad work online from Boston University. While much of your post is quite useful, I would have to disagree slightly with the portion regarding online degrees.

    First, I must admit that while my Master’s Degree will be in Music Education, Boston’s online program is not typical of “regular” online programs. Instead of taking several classes at a time, you are only allowed to take one at a time, but for good reason: our classes are 4 credits each but only 7 weeks long, instead of the typical 14. Because of this, we tend to do a very substantial amount of work, including large amounts of reading and a fair amount of research/paper writing – all of which take up a fair amount of my nights and weekends. While I do agree with the lack of face time with professors, we are given ample opportunities to have “live classrooms” with them, as well as study sessions with our facilitators.

    Lastly, I would have to say that choosing an online program over a “live” program has made me actually schedule my time MORE. While many may think that being a part of an online degree program means no set class times, the courses for my classes thus far (I have completed 7) have provided regularly scheduled “lectures” and “live classrooms” – many of which were mandatory, and part of our weekly schedule.

    I know that all online grad programs are not alike, but I wanted to share my experience. When I started the degree in the summer of 2010, I would have gladly gone back to school full time, but I was not in a place where I could conceivably do that. The online program was definitely the right choice for me, and I am extremely happy that I chose to pursue it. You are absolutely right, though – people should definitely DO THEIR RESEARCH! There are tons of schools out there trying to get your attention, but they may not be accredited.

    Thanks again for sharing your point of view!


  • K Freesen

    This is great info on an online program! I’ll be sure to include some of this when I write about online programs in the coming weeks.

  • http://twitter.com/Julie2884 Julie Manfredi

    Great! Thanks for reading and getting the word out! Looking forward to reading more from you in the future.


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