Trust the 10 Hour Rule

By Nipissing University - Graduate Studies Modified on November 19, 2019

Why you shouldn't work more than 10 hours a week outside your post-grad studies.

Two Nipissing graduate students celebrate completing their degrees in a timely fashion, thanks to their observance of the 10 Hour Rule.

If you're considering graduate school, you've probably heard about how much work it is. The long hours never end — and that's just your research time. You've still got seminars or courses to attend, a thesis to write, and, oh yeah, rent to pay. Seems like the only thing in shorter supply than time is money!

So, to provide a little extra cash, you may consider a part-time job. After all, doing so worked fine in your undergrad, right? At the time, you probably felt like you were run ragged, but now that you look back, working part-time wasn't so bad.

Grad school, though, is a different beast altogether. You're in the big leagues. That's why the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS), which has members at the biggest universities across the province, encourages the 10 Hour Rule, which they dub, rather fancifully, the Principle of Timely Program Completion. Here's a selection of their verbiage:

Full-time graduate students are expected to pursue their graduate degree on a full-time basis ... It is not possible, or desirable, for the university to monitor and enforce the employment activities of its graduate students ... However, it is both possible and desirable for the university to ensure that it does not itself create a structural situation that jeopardizes ... full-time progress towards the completion of graduate program requirements. Accordingly, OCGS is committed to the principle that full-time graduate students are employed no more than an average of 10 hours per week on campus.

(Click here to see the whole PDF.)

Okay, that's a mouthful, but the gist is this: most Ontario universities don't want grad students to work more than 10 hours a week. The idea is, you're in graduate school to focus on your studies, hammer down and get your work done. Putting too much time and energy into a part-time job could compromise your efforts and endanger the completion of your degree. Dire stuff!

But the truth is, OCGS is right. Working more than 10 hours a week during your grad studies isn't a great idea. School is expensive, but most post-graduate programs offer funding — Nipissing's School of Graduate Studies, for instance, offers internal scholarships and research fellowships. Many students take on Teaching Assistantships, working to help instructors deliver course materials to undergrads. You'll notice that TAs typically don't work more than 10 hours a week, either.

If you're still looking for some financial support, has a database of over 4,000 post-graduate awards, which ought to help plug some gaps in your finances.

At Nipissing's School of Graduate Studies, we want all students to succeed. By observing the 10 Hour Rule, you'll be able to focus on what really matters: your education. Once you've got your master's degree in hand, the money will start rolling in — so give yourself a break while you study, and trust the power of the 10 Hour Rule.

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