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After earning your bachelor’s degree and working for a few years in your field, you might find that your career has reached a plateau. There’s a level of expertise that you want to reach in order to take on bigger and more complex projects, secure a promotion or make a lateral move to a different department within your organization. While there are many organizations that will allow an employee to leave or only work part-time while they earn a graduate degree, this is not always the case. Also, financial obligations might prohibit cutting your hours or going without a salary, even if the school or organization is offering a full scholarship.

In addition, you may not want to be in an environment with traditional graduate students. Instead, you might want a program that understands your needs as a professional where every aspect of the program is career-oriented. Studying along with other students who are focused on advancing their careers and learning from staff members who have real world experience as well as a passion for teaching can be helpful in translating theoretical knowledge learned in class to the daily work environment. Also, a career-oriented graduate program will likely have more ties to the professional industry and provide opportunities to broaden your network.

Because of this, colleges and universities are responding by expanding their part-time executive programs. These programs are scheduled for evening and weekend classes to not interfere with your work schedule. In addition, many programs are using technology to allow students to complete all or part of their program online. An online program can be a great opportunity to earn your degree from a prestigious university without having to relocate your family or interrupt your career path. Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) is one such school. It began as a graduate school to develop the talents of NASA professionals. Its long history of serving career-oriented students is reflected in its 21 masters programs that are available on a part-time and online basis. By combining small classrooms, cutting-edge technology, and instructors with real world experience, FIT’s Extended Studies Program has earned a strong reputation for creating graduates with passion and know-how.

Especially with the growing number of online and part-time programs, earning your graduate degree no longer means leaving behind your job or your family. It is a matter of finding the right match for your background and goals. While it is never easy to juggle work, home life, and school, pursuing graduate studies can be the ideal way to take your career to the next level.