Would you go to a fully-online grad school?
Technology is revolutionising education - including global grad schools. Source: Photo by Wes Hicks/Unsplash

Grad school is a commitment. You’ll need to set aside a huge chunk of time that could be spent with your spouse, children and friends. Loans would probably be necessary as a postgraduate education doesn’t come cheap. And you’ll most likely have to quit your job and say goodbye to the accompanying financial security that comes with it.

Having to sacrifice one less element from the above could do a lot in helping more working professionals cope with grad school.

Which is why Deakin University’s new partnership with online learning platform FutureLearn could be a sweet new deal for aspiring postgraduate students.

It starts with a free two-week trial course before applicants decide whether to enrol in a full postgrad degree, delivered in convenient two-week blocks until they graduate with an internationally-recognised qualification.

Professor Beverley Oliver, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education said: “FutureLearn is an innovative global platform at the forefront of online course delivery. These courses offer a highly interactive social learning experience delivered to you in easily manageable steps.”

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are now increasingly available in many subjects, letting working professionals supplement their qualifications towards a full or partial degree. Source: AFP/Eduardo Munoz/Microsoft

The first of its kind in the world, this collaboration will have the following six subjects offered in a mixture of Master degrees and postgraduate certificates: Information Technology, Financial Planning, Cybersecurity, Humanitarian and Development Action, Property and Diabetes Education.

Each degree comprises 16 programmes, which cost AU$2,600 each. Each programme is then made up of five FutureLearn courses.

One of the main obstacles behind more enrolling to further their studies is the ability to foot more education bills. The How America Pays for Graduate School report from student loan lender Sallie Mae released early this year found that graduate students are footing more than half of their education bills with loans in their own names.

The average US$24,812 per-year tuition bill is thus paid mainly from these loans, combined with grants or scholarships (if one is so lucky) and a quarter from student earnings, according to the study.

More flexibility around grad school scheduling, just like in Deakin’s new programme, could free up time for students to continue working full-time or take up part-time work – note that this will be a very tough balance as written by many before.

In addition to giving students more flexibility around their schedules, Deakin touts the programme’s ability to foster international engagement through discussions and debates with other participants and the instructor on the platform.

Mark Lester, FutureLearns’ Director of Partnerships, said: “The nature of the platform means that no one misses out, regardless of where they are located.”

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