What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

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Ellis
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What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by Ellis » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:35 am

Hello everyone, I'm looking for advice on whether I should undertake a full time masters, a part time masters, and/or an online masters. I will be starting my first job as an assistant psychologist in January and ideally at some point next year would like to begin a masters. Due to how invaluable and challenging AP posts can be to get, I like the idea of working in an AP position whilst doing a masters. One of the ways I could feasibly do this is by doing a part time distance learning/fully online masters but I wondered whether anyone knows if doing such a masters is seen as less valuable as a full time/regularly taught masters?

Just for some background I have a relatively low 2:1 BSc Psychology, and would need a MSc to strengthen my research skills if I do apply for the doctorate. Equally, I’m only 22, and as such do not have tons of work experience. I have some part time experience/volunteering from university, and have worked as a band 4 support worker in an adult acute mental health ward for a bit over a year now. In my eyes, pursuing a masters and further work experience would be in my best interests at the moment. I like the idea of staying in an AP job whilst doing a part time masters, but do not know if that’s the best option. Alternatively, I could (hopefully) work as an AP from January till next September, and pursue a full time masters, then attempt to get another AP role but the uncertainty and challenge of getting AP roles makes me worried I could be out of work for some time.

I’ve been looking at the fully online MSc Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health offered by Kings College London, but the dissertation appears to be somewhat atypical. Is that common for online/distance learning masters?

Essentially, I wondered if anyone has been in a similar position to me, and what the general view of online/distance learning masters are in regards to applying for the clinical doctorate. If anyone is able to share their experiences and/or views it would be really appreciated, thankyou. :)

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Esuma
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by Esuma » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:47 pm

I did a distance learning masters - I don’t believe they’re viewed any differently than others - not that I’ve heard anyway! What I would say is depending on the course you may need to be available for certain things in the day time, for example I attended weekly online tutorials as part of my MSc and also had to attend exams in person. It was a good way of doing things but just make sure you don’t take on too much at once! You might have a lot to do workewise with a new role so juggling it all could be tricky. My course was a year long and I did it at the same time as working full time, with the understanding that I worked late two days so I could work a half day in order to attend my tutorial. I also needed to do a placement separate to my work role which I was able to negotiate as a separate part of my role at the time. Overall I survived and achieved a good mark but it was a very tough year and I don’t think I could have done it for much longer without burning out as my only leave from work was based around deadlines and exams. My dissertation was a systematic review, I think this is fairly common in shorter courses / distance learning as it doesn’t require ethical approval which in itself can be a lengthy process and would be even harder to practically do a study via distance learning.

Ellis
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by Ellis » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:40 am

Esuma thank you for your reply, I'm pleased it doesn't seem as though distance learning masters are viewed any differently as I suspect I will end up doing one! My worry is that if I don't do a piece of research for my dissertation I may struggle to sell my research skills later whilst applying for further opportunities. Esuma I know a systematic review is a piece of research, but have you found yourself at all handicapped by not having done a piece of research at masters level where you would have had to get ethical approval, collect participants etc? From what I have gathered from the course offered by KCL that I was looking at, the dissertation part wouldn't even be a systematic review but instead 4 separate 15 credit modules around research methods. I'm just a little suspect about the value of such a way of going about doing a dissertation, particularly in light of how expensive the course is!

Esuma
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by Esuma » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:13 pm

I don’t really know for sure as it’s only been a year since I graduated and last year I was focusing mainly on my first Clin psy application whilst staying in the same job. I got an interview last year but this was based on a research exam not my form per se. Interestingly my feedback for a research based question was that it would have been more helpful if I’d talked about a study I’d done rather than my systematic review, which I’ll take on board if I am lucky enough to get any interviews this year and focus on my undergrad dissertation. Having said that though, whilst challenging, the process of doing the systematic review was completely new to me and very valuable - I feel like I learned a lot from it and it’ll be useful to me if I’m looking into areas to find and evaluate research in the future. The dissertation you describe sounds an interesting way of doing things, I’m no sure how it would work? For mine I had three pieces of research work, two of which (a research proposal and pilot review) made up part of two modules and then the review itself which was my final module / dissertation module. If you’re mainly wanting to advance stats knowledge then that approach won’t be helpful but for general research and critical judgement skills it was very useful to me and actually a lot of work!

I have heard that Research masters are generally regarded better than any taught masters but I don’t know how true that is - however if it’s research skills you’re wanting to develop you would be better off doing something like that. My main motivation was that I have a fairly average 2:1 and I had been doing healthcare roles rather than psychology roles so I felt really rusty and out of the psychology loop so I wanted to update my knowledge on a relevant area and also attempt to make up for my undergrad grade. After I’d felt suitably recovered from my masters and the application process I started properly looking for a psychology job and was offered two jobs in the end and started an AP role - whether that has anything to do with my masters I have no idea!

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workingmama
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by workingmama » Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:58 pm

Don't think it would make any difference.
Fail, fail again, fail better.

Punkgirluk
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by Punkgirluk » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:55 pm

Hi Ellis

I am just completing the kcl masters. Can’t answer as to how it would be regarded but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. Happy to answer any specific questions if you want!

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maven
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by maven » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:30 am

I don't think distance matters. But having a research or thesis requirement as opposed to just being a taught course is pretty critical, and having a credible department who don't just give everyone great marks to bring in more customers should count more than it does!
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

ClaudEE
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by ClaudEE » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:04 am

Punkgirluk wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:55 pm
Hi Ellis

I am just completing the kcl masters. Can’t answer as to how it would be regarded but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. Happy to answer any specific questions if you want!
Hey, I’m also interested in the kcl masters. Can I ask what the workload is like? So how long did it take for you to complete, did you work full-time/part-time alongside, how many hours did you work in a week? Would also be interested to hear what you thought about the dissertation and if the course being entirely online works well?

Sorry for the question overload!😂

Punkgirluk
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by Punkgirluk » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:14 am

Hi ClaudEE
Am happy to answer all of those but is it okay if I do it over next couple days (ie when I am not checking clinpsy after a few glasses of wine!
Helen

Punkgirluk
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by Punkgirluk » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:33 pm

Okay. So in terms of workload the university advises 20 hours per week and I would say that is about right. However because it is entirely online you can vary your own workload to some extent. It’s set up so that each module runs for 6 weeks with then 2-3 weeks break before the next module. Within each module there are 2 exam periods- one at the end of week 2 and one at the end of week 6. In that last week the time required pretty much doubles but the dates are all published well in advance so you can arrange other commitments as required. In the last 4 modules which are devoted to research there are no exams. Assessment is by 2 pieces of coursework per module and then the big research project which runs across all 4 modules but is submitted in 4 sections (1 per module) and then as a whole in a portfolio at the end that is the equivalent to the dissertation. There is a lot less teaching and a lot more independent research and learning in the research modules.
I worked full time during the whole course and it was manageable but stressful. I think if you had significant family or other commitments as well then it might be too much to work full time.

I had no problem with the distance learning format. You have a named teaching fellow for each module who has responsibility for a relatively small number of students so is very available for any questions. The asynchronous discussion boards work very well and certainly my cohort supplemented these with Skype and WhatsApp. For your research project you have a separate research supervisor. As with brick unis some are better than others 😂. Mine was incredibly knowledgable about my area of research but I had to chase her quite hard sometimes.

I took just over 2 years to complete- minimum is 2 maximum 6 but the university strongly encourages keeping momentum and aiming for the lower end of that window.

If any more questions please ask or PM if that’s easier

Helen

ClaudEE
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by ClaudEE » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:42 pm

Thank You Helen! That is so so useful! Will definitely consider applying, the cost seems the only downside to me

Claud

benbrand
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Re: What is the view on online/distance learning masters?

Post by benbrand » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:34 pm

I'd honestly consider going the QMUL route, I think I paid just under 7k for my MSc. I was in your position about two years ago and was seriously considering the KCL MSc, however, you rightly point out the exorbitant cost.

The lectures and teachings on the course were brilliant, and I felt that the course content was very relevant, structured and well thought out. I really, really like that there was a good emphasis on culturally competent practice and an effort to broadly touch upon multiple areas in clinical psych.

My supervisor was great although the dissertation format frustrated me a little; there was very little room or support to diverge outside of a narrative synthesis. Even when I proposed a meta-analysis, I was given a "well, on your head be it" sort of response. One other thing I will say, and this is by no means universal to the program, was that I struggled to engage with my cohort at times. I found seminars quite unsatisfying and actually felt quite bad for our seminar leader.

Saying that, I was very happy I did it. It really gave me a good understanding of the theoretical components of the therapies I knew some things about by virtue of working within early intervention for 5 years. I was also, although very difficult at times, able to work full-time and complete in 1 year. But this was also in-part facilitated by a very understanding supervisor.

Good luck!

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