by the University of Portsmouth
It’s a question that only seems to be growing in popularity each year: how does earning a degree online compare to studying on campus?
To help answer it, we’ve turned to the professionals. We sat down with three Course Advisers from the University of Portsmouth – Krishna, Celli, and Madeleine – to discuss the pros and cons of studying for a Master’s online.
Portsmouth offers a range of both on campus and remote courses, with its Course Advisers speaking to dozens of applicants on a daily basis to help them pick the best programme for their needs. Needless to say, this team seemed particularly well-suited to weigh in on this discussion.
PRO: Flexibility around when and where you study
“This is the big one, and probably the most obvious,” Krishna explains. “But when you’re studying remotely, you’re not tied down to a classroom, a timetable, or anything like that. For people who already have packed schedules, an online Master’s is a way to upskill or learn about subjects they’re passionate about.”
“Yes! Maybe you have work or family commitments, or maybe you’re currently homebound – studying online gives you the freedom to fit your education into whatever your situation is,” adds Celli. “Plus, a lot of universities like ours offer part-time remote courses as well, which gives you even more freedom.”
PRO: Less time consuming
“That’s another thing to consider actually,” Madeleine notes. “Studying online can take up a lot less of your time, at least in the long run. Primarily because you don’t have to commute anymore, but when you think about how many hours that can add up to, it’s a big win.”
PRO: Promotes better communication skills
“Another benefit that maybe doesn’t get shouted about enough is that learning remotely really prepares you for life in the professional world,” says Celli.
“Our less plugged-in students sometimes struggle with this at first, but when you’re chatting online, you can’t always rely on body language or the tone of your voice. That pushes you become clearer, more concise, and to ask more questions. But those are all such valuable qualities to have, both in the workplace and everywhere else.”
PRO: Allows you to meet a wider range of people
“A Master’s that’s taught online makes a subject more accessible to people from different locations, or who are at different stages in their lives,” Krishna notes.
“The benefits of that are huge; suddenly you get to learn from fellow students who may hold ten to twenty years more work experience than you, or who understand the work environment of a place you’ve never been.”
CON: Requires more time management
“But – and yes, I think it’s time we got to the ‘but’s – studying online if you’ve never done it before can be a challenge,” says Celli.
“Not because of the technology, which is what I think a lot of our applicants wrongly think they’ll have issues with. It’s because you need a lot of self-motivation and time management. You’re going to find yourself struggling and just not enjoying the course if you can’t stick to a schedule – even if that schedule is something you need to adapt on a weekly basis.”
CON: Not a great fit for all learners
“That’s very true,” agrees Madeleine. “And there’ll always be people who just won’t enjoy studying exclusively online. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – I think certain learners get their energy from being around others, and don’t enjoy learning as much when that energy isn’t present.
My suggestion would always be to fully investigate any online course to see how it aims to recreate that atmosphere. Does it let you interact with your tutors and course mates? Do you get to sit in on live webinars? And always, always reach out to the university with your questions. Investing in your education is a big decision, so give yourself the time and tools you need to make the best choice.”
Keen to learn more about learning remotely? Or are you already looking for the right programme for you? Visit Portsmouth Online to explore their courses and get advice on studying online.