Meet the woman who finished her master’s degree in just 5 months – ‘I studied for 12 hours every day'

Msa Mesatywa has plans to pursue a PhD degree.
Msa Mesatywa has plans to pursue a PhD degree.

When Msa, who is from Mthatha, Eastern Cape, passed her matric in 2013 she wanted to become an accountant.

However, when she applied to study at Nelson Mandela University she had to do an extended program to qualify for an accounting qualification.

After the first year, she realised she did not like accounting, so she took economics as a major.

"That’s how I fell in love with economics,” says the 25-year-old Msa.

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When she was a new university student doing her bachelor's and later honours degrees in economics, Msa struggled with time management and multi-tasking.

“I would always do things at the last minute and end up being under pressure, which resulted in me having heavy headaches and sleepless nights unnecessarily. I overcome that by drafting a schedule for my study times.”

She mastered her scheduling skills and graduated with an honours in economics in April this year and submitted her research proposal for her master's degree a month later. 

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Msa had to work extremely hard and she studied for a minimum of 12 hours a day with only a one hour break in between in order to finish her master's in record time — which she did.

"It was not easy, but I enjoyed the process," she says.

Msa graduated for the second time this year in early December.

“Most people don’t know that you can do a master's degree in five months. What happens is that [at Nelson Mandela University] you have an option of doing either research only, which is intense, or both coursework and research, which will take you a year to complete.”

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Msa acknowledges that many students struggle in university as they also have to worry about how to finance their studies. Fortunately, she had a bursary and could focus all her energies on her studies without worrying about fees.

She is now preparing her research proposal for a PhD and hopes to present it and get accepted for the program early next year.

Msa's family is very proud of her achievements. 

“Unfortunately, my parents passed away when I was in Grade 5 (mom) and Grade 10 (dad) and my aunts took over and they have been supportive ever since,” says Msa.

She looks forward to adding PhD to her growing list of qualifications.

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