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How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Master's Degree?

  • Posted on: December 17, 2019

Whether you’re currently working full-time or plan to focus on attending school, knowing whether or not to choose a full-time or part-time master’s degree program is an important part of choosing a program that best fits your needs and goals. Read this guide to learn more about the factors that determine how long it takes to earn a graduate degree and the length of time it might take you to complete a master’s degree program at Colorado Technical University.


Studying on a traditional college campus is just one way to pursue your education. You can also choose to pursue a master’s degree by attending a university that offers online or weekend and evening classes. What should you consider when making the choice? Most importantly, you want a program that may bring you closer to your professional goals while fitting into your life—whether that includes a full-time career, a busy family life or other personal responsibilities.

Read on for the pros and cons of common program options, along with the amount of time you can expect to work toward graduation:

Traditional, Full-time Programs

Attending a full-time graduate program at a traditional campus can offer access to residential living and the ability to meet classroom peers and faculty face-to-face. This path usually comes with compromises since most classes are offered during the day, leaving less time for a full-time career. The length of a traditional, full-time master's program is typically two years.

Part-time Evening And Weekend Programs

Similar to traditional university programs, part-time evening and weekend programs are typically completed while attending classes on campus. The benefit of this approach is that it keeps your daytime schedule open for classwork and studying. On the other hand, the location of your campus may make travel time a burden and you may want to reduce your evening and weekend activities with family and friends, or a night job, to have time for your studies.

Since you would be spreading your program over a few evenings and weekends per week, the length of a part-time weekend and evening program may run longer than a traditional two-year master’s degree.

Online Or Distance Programs

In terms of rigor and content, interactive online degree programs offer curricula designed to meet or exceed the standards. Many universities, like CTU, offer robust virtual campuses with all the resources you can expect at a traditional college; plus online communities, peer mentors and 24/7 tutoring available so you don’t have to sacrifice personal interaction.

Unlike a traditional classroom, online learning allows you to control what, where, when and how you study. Plus, the mobility of a virtual classroom won’t require you to conform to a rigid schedule at a set location—so education can more easily fit into a busy life.

For instance, you might spend your lunch hour at work responding to online discussions or participate in a live video lecture with your professor while you wait for your child to finish soccer practice. An online graduate degree program can be completed in about two years. Many universities, including CTU, may also offer options to earn your degree in as few as 18 months.2

Take Charge Of Your Career With A Ctu Master's Degree

If you are a professional seeking a graduate degree taught by real-world instructors with practical knowledge driven by the demands of today’s employers, explore more than 35 master’s degree programs and concentrations offered at CTU. Accessible online or as a hybrid of online and on-campus classes in Aurora and Colorado Springs, CO, you can earn your master’s degree in as little as one year.2

What Impacts The Time It Takes To Earn Your Degree?

There are several key factors that can shorten or extend the time it takes to complete your master’s degree, which include but are not limited to:

  • Transfer credit: Wherever and however you decide to study, you should inquire about earning credit for prior college courses, professional experience, experiential learning and military training.3
  • Academic course load: You may be able to shorten the time it takes to complete your degree by as much as 6 months by completing more than the minimum number of required courses in an academic term. At CTU, for example, this is considered studying at an accelerated pace and involves taking an additional course in each 5.5 week session in order to move more quickly through your program.
  • Academic progress: Students who achieve satisfactory academic progress—or above the minimum grade point average—are better able to stay on pace to graduate. Those who must repeat courses after receiving a non-passing grade or those who withdraw from one or more classes may experience a delay in graduation and implications in their financial aid, which may include out-of-pocket expense near the end of the program.
  • Periods of non-enrollment: Like repeating a course, taking a break from your degree program can affect the length of time it takes to earn your master’s degree. Before enrolling in a degree program, decide if you are able to commit the next two or more years to your education. Life happens, so if an unexpected event occurs that demands you take a break from school, work with the university to protect the credits you’ve already earned and develop a plan to re-enter school as soon as you can.

Get Started: Connect With Us

Join our powerful, professional network represented by the over 104,000 degrees awarded since 1965. Take the next step toward accessing CTU’s innovative learning technology to earn your master’s degree.

If you have questions along the way, we’re here to help. Call or visit us online to learn more.

Call: 855.230.0555

1. As a master’s degree program, this program is designed as a 24 month program; however; many factors will impact your time to completion, including course loads, proficiency and/or transfer credits and breaks.
2. Transfer credit is evaluated on an individual basis. Not all credits are eligible to transfer. See the University Catalog for transfer credit policies.

CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Programs vary by location. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
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