Educators who decide to make the leap into grad school often do so because they desire to advance in their career, raise their income, or deepen their knowledge of their craft. Depending on which format is chosen, a master's degree may be completed in as few as 12 months or as many as 2 to 3 years. Before committing to a master's degree program, it's crucial for busy teachers to understand what kind of time commitment will be required.

Choose a Focus

Multiple options exist for master's degrees in education, including those focused on teaching, curriculum design, educational leadership, higher education or student advising. Each has its own requirements and program length. In addition, local districts often have requirements -- such as a supervised internship, mentoring program or practicum period -- that may lengthen the time it takes you to achieve your career goals after earning your master's degree.

Continue Working and Study Part Time

Most educators need to enroll in a part-time program in order to continue working while earning their master's degree. Luckily, options for part-time study are plentiful. Traditional master's programs often take two to three years for a part-time student and include some evening, weekend and summer course options. The face-to-face teaching and peer interaction is attractive to many teachers, as well as the opportunity to network with other professionals in the area. However, online options offer more flexibility in terms of schedule and may be completed in as few as 18 to 24 months.

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Dive Into Full-Time Study

Students just finishing their bachelor's degree may wish to continue on to a master's program as a full-time student before starting their career. Some benefits of this plan include the ability to stay focused on school without work demands and the continuity of staying with the same university where you're currently studying. A fifth-year master's program may take 12 to 18 months, depending on the options available at your school.

FInd an Accelerated Option

The growth of online learning has made available a variety of accelerated degree programs. These often take as few as 12 months to complete. An accelerated graduate program typically requires classes at an intense pace for 6 to 8 weeks and may involve attending online live sessions, posting to discussion boards, and the same kinds of research-based writing as a more traditional program.

About the Author

With hands-on experience in the traditional classroom, the online setting, and the world of curriculum development, Jessica Smith is a veteran educator who is passionate about learning. Smith earned a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University and is certified in mathematics and exceptional student education.