An Online or In-Person Master’s Degree? 5 Things to Consider

graduate students in the classroom looking at a laptop

If you're pursuing a master's degree, choosing whether to attend classes online or in person is a big decision. Students needing a more flexible schedule might prefer a Dallas Baptist University online degree. Students who enjoy a more hands-on, collaborative experience might favor in-person instruction.

Either way, earning a master's degree can help maximize your potential and unlock many career opportunities. If you're unsure which path to take, we’re here to help.

5 Important Considerations for In-Person or Online Master’s Degrees

1. Weighing the Online vs. In-Person Masters Degree Model Options

Today's master's degree candidates can choose from three different learning model options.

  • In-Person instruction - Students receive on-campus, in-person instruction from a professor in a classroom or laboratory setting with other students.
  • Online learning - Students attend classes remotely via a computer or tablet, in a synchronous (live, real-time lecture) or asynchronous (independent, self-paced study, not in real-time with another participant) format.
  • Hybrid learning - Students receive a combination of face-to-face instruction and online learning.

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when you choose between these educational platforms.

Type of Master’s Degree Matters

Some fields of study, such as specific science-related master's programs, require hands-on lab research and experiments. Others might feature in-person collaborative projects. At DBU, for example, students who pursue a Master of Arts in International Studies receive classroom instruction and have an opportunity to travel and intern internationally.

By comparison, the curriculum in the Master of Arts in Family Ministry or a Master of Arts in Professional Development is specifically geared for DBU online master's students. So, the type of degree you are seeking has a direct impact on your program's learning model.

2. Master’s Degree Cost

Cost is a significant consideration as you pursue a master's degree. Whatever learning platform you choose needs to fit within your budget. Online learning has some financial advantages. Attending online classes saves money on gas, transportation, on-campus meals, and room and board. Some online courses also use free, downloadable instructional materials, reducing your textbook expenses.

3. Learning Styles for Determining Online vs. Master’s

Getting an online degree is a popular choice. The global e-learning market is forecasted to reach $400 billion by 2026, according to a Statista report

Because every student learns differently, making a popular pick isn't necessarily what's best for you. Instead, understanding your learning style can inform your choice.

The learning styles best for obtaining an online master's degree program are:

  • Visual learners use pictures, diagrams, and other visual tools to understand and remember concepts. 
  • Read/write learners prefer to process information by reading notes, textbooks, and other written materials. They also rewrite notes to reinforce learning.

The learning styles best for pursuing an in-person master's degree are:

  • Aural learners learn best by hearing information.
  • Kinesthetic learners prefer learning via hands-on exercises, experiments, and activities.

Whatever choice you make, we offer multiple DBU online degrees to help you achieve your professional goals.

4. Level of Social Interaction Online vs. In-Person

As DBU carries out our vision of building a great Christian university that is pleasing to God by producing Christ-centered servant leaders who are transforming the world, we proudly offer our students a rich and rewarding campus life.

From sporting events to homecoming to spiritual development and student clubs, there's something for everyone to enjoy at DBU.

Ultimately, the level of social interaction you seek during your graduate program is another critical factor to consider. Do you work better with hands-on projects in collaborative groups? Would you enjoy participating in extracurricular activities?

If you answered yes to these questions, you should pursue an in-person master's degree. An online degree program might suit you best if you prefer independent study without as many social distractions.

5. Flexibility of Online vs. Master’s Degree Programs

In-person graduate classes typically meet at structured, designated times. If you live off campus, you must also factor in commuting time. If you don't have a lot of commitments that pull you in different directions, attending graduate school in person is probably a good fit.

However, if you're a working adult juggling hectic family schedules and church activities, an online master's program provides the flexibility you need to succeed. While you can complete many assignments at your own self-directed pace, getting help from your professor is always just a phone call, video chat, or email away.

Why Choose DBU?

With the vast number of master's degree programs available, why should you choose DBU?

As a nationally ranked university, DBU's 36 master's degree programs and 70 dual master's programs offer maximum flexibility without sacrificing quality. The Online Learning Consortium honored DBU's online program with its Quality Scorecard Endorsement Seal.

Our campus is strategically located between Dallas and Fort Worth, providing extensive ministry opportunities, internships, and job placements in thriving communities.

DBU stands out from other higher education institutions with our Christ-centered approach to learning and mission to transform the lives of students who will transform the world, all for the glory of God.

As such, DBU is priming you for your career while preparing you to fulfill your calling through the integration of faith and learning. Rest assured, whether you attend online or in person, we genuinely care about our students.

Learn more about DBU's Graduate School, and feel free to contact us to see how DBU can help you maximize your Christ-centered professional potential.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6

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