Part-time Study Calculator


What's on this page

Do You Have Time For University?

This page will help you understand the time commitments required to gain a part-time Degree or online Masters. If you are thinking about returning to study, there are many things you need to consider and plan for, but like most things in life, time and money are the big make or break considerations.

How To Use This Study Calculator

Play around with the sliders below- think about how much time you would be able to set aside for study each day. As you add hours of study time, the number of months to complete the different certificate types will be shown.

How Much Time Do You Need To Study?

We have spoken to hundreds of students about their time management while taking online courses. Although no two students are the same, we found that individual students taking the same module can spend very different amounts of time on the actual study and at various points in the course.

Why are we telling you this? Well, gaining a degree or Master’s is not a consistent journey. In reality, you will not spend 18.5 hours every week studying for two years.

There are times on the course when you will need to spend more time studying than others- think of the week before an assignment deadline. Also, there are breaks between modules and holiday periods.

When looking at your schedule and commitments, be realistic and understand that gaining a degree or Master’s part-time whilst working and or balancing family commitments is a journey and will take commitment and dedication, but it will be a rewarding life and learning experience.

How We Worked This Out

We used the CATS (Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme) points for each qualification type to calculate the time to complete each qualification.

CATS points allow universities to quantify how much learning and study are involved in a course. Each CATS point is the equivalent of notional 10 hours of study.

We used the total number of hours required for each qualification and the number of hours available each week for study to calculate the timeframes.

What Counts As Notional Learning Time

Notional Hours of Study- activities included

Notional learning is a term used in Higher Education. It is an agreed way to talk about all the activities involved in academic study.

Notional learning includes but is not limited to-

  • Independent Study
  • Reading
  • Preparation For Contact Hours
  • Contact Hours
  • Coursework
  • Revision
  • Assessment

Part-Time Study And Time To Complete A University Qualification

Remember, a typical university year consists of 36 weeks of study time and 16 weeks of holiday. There may be more teaching weeks in a year for online and part-time courses, but you will still find that there are short breaks between modules on most programmes.

It is good to ask the admissions team when you enquire about a course for a sample schedule.

Time Required To Study For A Degree Part-Time

Undergraduate Degree (360 CATS points = 3,600 hours of study time)

Taking a degree online, part-time is often the only way mature students can access university. This option allows students to spread the course over six years or more. The graphic below shows the time to complete a full undergraduate degree and the hours required.

At UK universities, one year of full-time study at undergraduate level is 120 CATS points.

Hours of study a week Vs time to complete a degree chart

Time Required To Study For A Top- Degree Part-Time

Top-up degree (120 CATS points = 1,200 hours of study time)

Students who already hold an HND or equivalent can jump straight into the final year of an undergraduate degree by taking a top-up degree. It would be best to estimate that you’ll need around 17.5 hours of study a week to complete in two years.

Hours of study a week Vs time to complete a top-up degree chart

The Time Needed To Gain A Master’s Part-Time.

Master’s Degree (180 CAtS points = 1,800 hours of study time)

Using part-time study to take an online Master’s Degree is becoming more common. Most universities offer this option over two years, but online masters often provide more flexibility allowing students to spread their studies over a longer period. In fact, many online Master’s allow up to 5 years to complete the course.

At UK universities, an academic year of postgraduate study is defined as 180 CTAs points. This is 60 CATS more than at undergraduate level.

Hours of study a week Vs time to complete a Master's Degree chart

Time Required To Study For A Post Graduate Certificate Part-Time

Postgraduate Certificate (60 CATS points = 600 hours of study time)

These qualifications are level 7 and are the first third of a full Master’s degree.

Hours of study a week Vs time to complete a Postgraduate Certificate chart

Time Required To Study For A Post Graduate Diploma Part-Time

Postgraduate Diploma (80 CATS points = 800 hours of study time)

These qualifications are the first two-thirds of a Master’s degree.

Hours of study a week Vs time to complete a Postgraduate Diploma chart

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