It's common for students to juggle study with competing interests, no matter which qualification level they are completing. Maybe you plan on adding study to a schedule that already includes full-time work and family commitments. Or perhaps you work part time and have some spare hours that you would like to spend indulging your interests or furthering your career. Whatever the reason, most institutions offer a range of flexible study options and attendance modes in addition to the standard full-time, on-campus mode to help you manage your time.
Flexible study options can be found at all institution types and qualification levels, although they are particularly common at postgraduate level. Keep in mind that not every institution and course offers every flexible study option.
Flexible study options include:
Part-time study is the most common way that students balance their study with other commitments and is available in most postgraduate courses. Part-time study is probably more than enough for most full-time workers, typically decreasing the full-time load of around four subjects per semester to two subjects.
Online and distance subjects
Many tertiary institutions and online education providers, such as Open Universities Australia, allow you to complete certain subjects (or even your entire course) externally through online and distance education. Online and distance education enables you to complete the same degree as on-campus students at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home — or anywhere, for that matter. Just keep in mind that some courses and subjects may require you to complete some sessions on campus, usually in concentrated blocks for convenience. See Online and distance education for more details.
Evening classes are usually available in both full-time and part-time postgraduate courses, enabling you to save the daytime hours for work, family or leisure. In fact, some part-time courses aimed at professionals may only be offered in the evenings. Just keep in mind that not all subjects may be available in the evenings, so careful timetabling or a mix of day and evening classes may be required to complete the course.
Trimesters or terms
Some providers break the academic year into three trimesters or four or more terms to provide more flexibility than the usual semester model. Alternatively, they may offer additional summer or winter terms. This gives students a wider range of dates in which to begin their course, the ability to accelerate their course by squeezing more subjects into the year, and more flexibility to stop and start their studies as they please.
Also known as "intensive mode", block study enables you to cram required on-campus study into concentrated blocks over a shorter period of time, such as a series of weekends or in chunks of a week or more. Other study may be completed at home. This enables busy professionals to complete their study as quickly as possible and minimise the impact on their work and other commitments.
Mixed mode combines several of these flexible study options to enable even greater convenience, typically enabling students to complete their course through a combination of on-campus, distance and block study.