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Working part-time while doing an MTS at Duke


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Hi y'all,

I have accepted an offer to study at Duke this Fall, but I am wondering if anyone can speak to how intense a full-time load is (12 hours each semester). I have flexibility at my current job, because it is something that can be done online. So basically, I will tell them how many hours I would like to work, and they will probably accommodate me. 

My wife will be working a full-time job, so I won't technically need to work. BUT, I don't want to drain our savings account if I don't have to. I am currently working 24 hours a week, and I also have another part-time gig as a worship leader that adds an additional 8 hours or so a week. I have been able to maintain this schedule throughout my entire full-time undergraduate degree (taking anywhere from 12-15 hours a semester). However, I have heard people tell me that graduate course work is much harder than undergrad, and that I'll need much more time in my schedule. 

As academics, I suppose we think it's always preferable to only spend your time studying. But I've realized in my undergrad that taking my time and slowly reading a text doesn't always mean that I'll get more out of it! 

Those of you with experience in these things, what would you recommend??

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I worked during my MA and found it very manageable. I probably kept between 15-20 hours a week most of the time, dropping to 8-10 during exams and paper season, then doing 20-30 during downtime. I had a boss willing to work with me on this though.

Most of the people I hung out with in grad school worked, everything from bartending, waiting tables, after school teachers, IT, etc.

I didn't notice a change in the quality of work, just more of it. If you're worried about it I'd suggest 12 hours your first semester and see how it goes. You ultimately know yourself better than we do! That said, a large part of divinity school and grad life in general is taking time to attend social events and form those bonds, be it a house party, grabbing beers at a happy hour, or attending a lunch lecture. Don't ever get yourself in a position to where you can't attend some of these!

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Student finishing their MTS this semester at Brite here. While I was /able/ to take twelve hours while working part time (20 hours give or take 3-5) I found one of my grades suffered. My first semester was 3 As and a C (the C was in Church History 2 at 8am. No amount of caffeine could get me to fully boot into my brain that early). At the same time, I had a friend who took 15 hours one semester while working part time and he got all As. Its all about what you can handle.

At Brite we frequently have 1-2 week long intensive classes happening after the fall and spring semesters, as well as a handful of classes offered over the summer. You need 49 hours to graduate, one hour of which is your thesis writing in your final semester. If Duke is relatively on par with the hours that were required of me, and you're trying to be done in two years; you could take four 9 hour semesters. Then you would just need to nab 12 more credits during january/may/summer classes that could easily be taken one at a time.

Some might advise against taking classes during your thesis writing semester, but approaching the tail end of it, the classes I'm taking have ended up informing my thesis quite a bit, and I wouldn't have done it any other way. Good luck on your studies!

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