Postgraduate Study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary Futures Await

What to Consider Before Applying for an Online Masters

Some of the key things you need to think about before applying for an online degree.

1. What is the online learning platform like? 

Woman at desk studying online

The virtual learning environment, or VLE, is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an online course. You'll use it every day to chat to coursemates, hand in assignments and access reading lists, so you need to be sure that it's intuitive and easy to get to grips with. 

This is particularly important for students who are returning to postgraduate study after some time away from academia. If you're worried about using the technology, try to speak to a current student or course tutor to get more information on how the VLE works. 

Here at Edinburgh, we use both Learn and Moodle to support our award-winning online learning programmes. We also ensure that for students in areas with poorer internet connections, all resources are made available in different formats so that they are easier to download (e.g. audio lecture recordings instead of video). 


2. How much will it cost?

As an online learner, you will save on all of the added costs an on-campus student has to think about, such as accommodation expenses and transport. 

However, you will still have to pay for tuition fees, so make sure to keep these in mind before applying. Some people still assume that online learning is free. In fact, online masters are exactly the same as their on-campus counterparts in terms of value and knowledge gained, so you expect to pay a fair price for a degree from a top-quality institution. 

If you're worried about cost, you may qualify for a scholarship. Our online scholarships for 2020/21 are listed below. 

Online Learning Scholarships 2020/21


3. What's the reputation like for online learning?

While the pandemic has brought online learning to the forefront of many people's minds, it's actually been around for a very long time. 

When you're considering where to apply for a masters, try and get a sense of how long the university in question has been offering online learning. The longer an institution has been offering online degrees, the more time lecturers and support staff will have had to find out what does and doesn't work. 

At the University of Edinburgh, we've been offering online degrees since 2005. Browse a full list of our programmes using the link below. 

Online learning programmes


4. Is it flexible enough for your needs? 

One of the biggest advantages of online learning is its flexibility - you don't have to be physically present at lectures and instead you can fit in the seminars, reading and group work around your everyday routine. 

However, an online masters shouldn't be undertaken lightly. You will still need to put in a certain amount of hours each week in order to stay on top of your work, so try to ensure that you'll be able to keep up. 

Most programmes should give a recommended amount of weekly hours, and you can always speak to staff on your chosen programme who will be able to answer any questions you might have about workload. 


Related Links

Online Masters in Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

How a Masters Degree Can Help Your Career

Advice For New Online Students