As other answers have mentioned, it is not just possible to complete a master’s while working full time, but there’s a whole assortment of great master’s programs designed specifically to accommodate career professional students.
In the industries I’ve worked in, primarily aerospace engineering and defense, it’s a prevalent part of the culture that early career people will sometimes choose to pursue a master’s while working. Many of my peers and I are currently following (or have recently finished) that path, so I can share what I’ve learned from our experience.
Schools/Programs: It seems you’re already looking into programs that are local to you. That’s often a great choice, but another route worth considering is an online program which doesn’t require you to be physically on campus. The idea of an online program can have a negative connotation to some, but an online master’s program in engineering from a university with name recognition is often indifferentiable from a degree gained while studying full time on campus. One example I can think of is a master’s at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, which you can complete without ever setting foot on campus, but the degree you receive is identical to that of any other master’s student. I’m sure there are a number of other programs like this
Time Scale: As others have mentioned, the time it will take you to obtain a master’s this way will be significantly longer (prodigies aside). However, in all programs I know of you can mostly set your own pace. Many of my peers have found that taking 1 class a term is plenty of additional workload and taking any more can be overwhelming. That being said, if taking 1 class a term it can take 2.5+ years to complete the degree, even if you choose to take a summer class or two. Regardless of the pace you end up choosing, I highly recommend starting out with 1 class the first term, so you can learn how to properly balance work and school before feeling immediately overwhelmed.
Value: How much value you will personally gain from the program is difficult to judge, but it’s a crucial exercise before you commit to years of school. Some key questions that you should ask yourself are:
- Why do I want to do this? (e.g. do I think it will help me land more promotions at work, make me look more prestigious to my colleagues, do I just really enjoy learning in an academic setting)
Once you’ve answered that question, think about these:
- How much will this help me advance in my career? (e.g. I’m partway through my program and I’ve reached the position that newly graduated master’s students are hired into in my company. Doing my master’s for the promotion would’ve been a poor choice for me)
- How much will this additional academic learning benefit me over additional time I could spend learning on the job? (e.g. a number of my peers in EE/CS are now pursuing their masters in order gain expertise in machine learning. This has resulted in them landing projects at work they may have not gotten otherwise. It’s helped them break into a field that was otherwise mostly closed to them. If they had studied the same field they work in every day, the calculus for the benefit would be different)
- How much do you enjoy academic studying? (Hopefully you have at least some enthusiasm for it, as it’ll be a significant part of your “free” time for a while)
Pursuing your master’s while working full time is a fairly accessible and not uncommon route. How much social life you have left over and how much benefit you get from the program depends largely on how you choose to accomplish this goal.