Postgraduate Study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary Futures Await

Online study – frequently asked questions

Thinking about studying an online masters? We answer some of the internet's most frequently asked questions about online study.

1.  What is it like trying to earn a masters degree online?

Most people who are considering online study for the first time are curious about how online learning actually works. A large proportion of our online learners are studying for a postgraduate degree while taking care of family members, working part-time or full-time, or even a combination of both! So how does juggling all of these commitments actually work? What is it like?

Fortunately, a key feature of our online programmes is their flexibility. For example, you can log on and read the discussion boards during your commute, and join the conversation when you next get a chance to concentrate. If you miss a scheduled live lecture then that's no problem - all lectures are recorded, meaning that you can go back and watch them at a time that suits you. 

As an online student, you'll be expected to devote around 12-15 hours a week to your studies. But you can easily schedule your learning to fit around any other commitments. You might prefer to do this by working in the evenings, or setting aside time at the weekend - it's up to you. 

You can do your learning alongside other activities - you can work, you can have family and everything, and still be able to do it [the Masters] within the time frame that you set yourself.

Susan, recent graduateMSc Paediatric Emergency Medicine

In terms of using the university's resources, you will have full access to the University of Edinburgh's libraries and support services. We have over 800,000 e-books and e-journals for you to use, and an expert staff of librarians who will be able to help you locate books that we don't already have. You will also be able to speak to careers consultants and IT support services, just like on-campus students. 

We have academic support staff who really help us whenever we have an issue. I would say usually within 24 hours but always within 48 hours I get any problems sorted out, it's brilliant.

MihiriCurrent student, Master of Family Medicine

We also have a number of online student bloggers who give their own unique perspective on what it's really like to try and earn a master's degree online. Click on the links below if you'd like to find out more about online study from some of our current students. 

Matthys, MSc Food Safety - Taking the road less travelled

Dreck, MSc International Animal Health - Dare to dream

online learning student and teacher

2. Are online degrees less good than on-campus degrees?

The short answer to this question!

One of the most common misconceptions about online degrees is that they are somehow inferior to on-campus degrees. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we've written several blog posts entirely devoted to answering this question, which you can read via the links below.

Are online degrees 'easier' than on-campus degrees?

Is an online degree a 'real' degree?

In a nutshell, online degrees are exactly the same as on-campus qualifications. Apart from the obvious difference in learning environment, they hold exactly the same value as a traditional degree and are in no way 'worse' than an on-campus equivalent.

3. Is it possible to do a masters alongside your job?

It's entirely possible to do a masters along with your regular, full-time job, and many of our students do just this. 

Here at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, we are aware that a vast majority of our online students will be working in medical or scientific roles which they aren't able to take time out of to pursue on-campus postgraduate study. That's why we've made sure that our programmes are tailored to the needs of full-time working professionals. 

In the video below, some of our recent graduates explain what it's like to study online alongside other commitments. 

Video: Balancing online study with work and family
Online students from the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine describe their experience of balancing work, family and study.

4. Do employers value online degrees as much as a regular degree?

Online degrees are just as valuable to employers as on-campus masters. Graduates receive exactly the same degree transcript as on-campus students.

online learning graduate in meeting

Furthermore, achieving an online degree is arguably harder than an on-campus equivalent - it means that you'll likely have had to successfully balance a number of different commitments. You will also probably have learned some new IT skills along the way and your communication skills will have developed by writing a dissertation and working on group projects with other students. 

Furthermore, it's important to remember that a number of our degrees are officially accredited. 

It’s extremely hard to earn an accreditation. These endorsements prove that our programmes are being recognised by external bodies for their high educational standards, outstanding course design and the relevance of their content to a professional setting.

  • 8 of our masters programmes are delivered in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons, while two are delivered with the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
  • Three of our courses – Clinical Education, Surgical Sciences and General Surgery – have received accreditation by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
  • The Master of Public Health degree has been validated by the Agency for Public Health Education Accreditation (APHEA).
  • The online MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour has been accredited by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB).

We really hope that this blog post has helped to successfully dispel the myth that online degrees aren’t ‘real’. In actual fact, online programmes at the University of Edinburgh are exactly the same as traditional degrees, with all of the added benefits that flexible online learning brings.

5. How to get scholarships doing an online masters?

For information on available scholarships for online students, please visit the link below. 

Postgraduate Study - Fees and Funding

Related Links

University of Edinburgh Online Learning

Online Learning - How lonely is it?

Online Learning at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine