Let's say I get accepted to a Master's Degree Program in Applied Mathematics with a Research Thesis component. If I take 1 class a semester for 6 years and work on my thesis each semester, what could the time commitment for my most difficult semester look like? Assume I am trying to get an A in every class and publish a great thesis.

Does spending 40 hours a week on that single class and research for an entire semester every few semesters sound plausible?

3 Answers 3


Your planned schedule sounds reasonable, but I would be more concerned about the energy commitment with full-time employment, particularly with a learning disability. Depending on the nature of your disability, the kind of work you do at your job, and your schedule, you might find that you have very little left over for quality academic work after your job commitment. So try it for a semester, but have a backup plan in case you find yourself overloaded. Six years is a long time to run yourself ragged.


This depends on the field, on the university, and on your preparation. A lot of places this would be overkill and students would normally manage with more than one class at a time. You call it "part time" but have described something approaching full time (40 hours per week).

But the real question is how efficiently can you use the time that you do have, assuming that you have other things that must be done (work, family, ...). If you can manage your odd moments of inactivity productively then you should be fine. It helps, for example, to always carry some course/research related reading materials no matter where you are. Every five minutes can be made to count. Taking notes while "on the go", likewise.

But there are situations in which the work load of a course plus research is more than you suggest. MIT, to name just one, has some pretty demanding graduate courses.

  • No family, but I will have friends and a relationship in the future. I plan to work full time 40 to 50 hours a week while doing the Master's Degree and Research. I also have a learning disability and complicated tasks take me up to 1.5 times longer on average to complete than my peers.
    – Kyakacoo
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 14:53
  • Hard to judge these things, but if you don't try it you are guaranteed not to succeed at it. Teach yourself to use the five minute intervals efficiently, but also how to take breaks to avoid burnout. Physical activity also helps.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 14:57

Let's talk about a US-based master's program. A course using the semester system is usually 3-4 credits or 3-4 class hours a week. The general rule-of-thumb is that you should spend twice the number of class hours on homework and studying so total time around 10-12 hours a week. You will also have to get yourself to and from the university so calculate your commute time.

Unless the master's program is set up for professional/employed people, classes will be during the day so your employer will have to agree that you can be gone during the day for a minimum 2 hours (assuming 30 minutes commute each way) three to four times a week. Or the class might meet twice a week for 90 minutes / 2 hours.

You might want to ask your employer or find another one that will let you reduce your hours to the minimum that will keep benefits. That's usually around 30 or 32 hours a week. That would help free up some time for class, homework, and research.

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