Not sure how to finance your postgraduate studies? Let’s take a look at what your options are, from scholarships to employer funding.
If only all things in life were free. Unfortunately, just like your undergraduate degree, a master’s degree comes at a price in the form of tuition fees and living expenses.
There is no doubt that the financial aspects of further studies may weigh heavily on your mind.
Fortunately though, there are plenty of options out there to help you, whether it’s postgraduate loans, help from your university or even sponsorship from a company. But where do you start when looking for them and how much can you get? We explore your options here.
Postgraduate student loans
The first port of call for your postgraduate funding is likely to be student loans from the government.
While there are loans for Masters students in every part of the UK, PhD loans are only available in England and Wales. But, if you don’t qualify for a student loan, don’t worry – we have many more funding options below.
Loans for Masters students
here is the highest Loans available for Masters students in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in 2022/23:
- England – £11,836 (for tuition fees and living expenses)
- Northern Ireland – £5,500 (for tuition fees only)
- Scotland – £10,000 (£5,500 towards tuition fees and £4,500 towards living costs)
- Wales – £18,430 (for tuition fees and living costs).
Click on the links above to find out more about your Part Masters Loan in UK.
Loans for PhD students
If you’re doing a PhD and you’re from England or Wales, it’s worth applying for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan.
These are the highest How much you can get as a doctoral loan depends on when your course started:
- If your course starts on or after 1 August 2022, you can get Up to £27,892
- If your course starts on or after 1st August 2021 and 31st July 2022, you can get Up to £27,265
- For courses starting between 1st August 2020 and 31st July 2021, you can get Up to £26,445.
Research Grants (Scholarships)
The Research Council is the main public funder of research in the UK and provides funding across a range of subjects.
To be eligible for a studentship, you usually need to have a 2:1 at undergraduate level, but relevant work experience can sometimes make you an exception. For courses starting in the fall, we recommend searching and applying for research grants closer to the spring.
So, how much can you get? Students who are successful in obtaining a studentship will be reimbursed for their fees and may also be awarded a living expenses grant.
University Post Graduate Fund
When it comes to university postgraduate funding for courses, the options vary widely from one institution to another. There is a wide choice of studentships, scholarships and bursaries (see below) or possibly fee discounts for alumni.
Some universities even pay for certain courses in the form of field trip funding or research assistance.
Here are some common forms of university funding for postgraduate and doctoral students:
Bursaries and Scholarships
Bursaries and scholarships are usually awarded to high-potential students in their respective fields by universities, through learning funds or through teaching assistantships (which we’ll explain in more detail shortly).
Some fields, such as scientific research, have more opportunities than others, so it’s important to do your own research based on the area you want to go into. Please remember Competition is high.
Graduate Teaching Assistantship
Some universities offer undergraduates the opportunity to teach at the same time as they complete a postgraduate course to help with their costs – this is known as a teaching assistantship.
The required hours for studentships vary greatly between universities – see your chosen university’s job description for more information. The role will likely be quite varied, you will likely be required to teach seminars and tutorials, as well as mark essays and assignments.
In exchange for work, most students with teaching assistantships will receive the same funding as studentships in the form of fee waivers and additional payments to cover living expenses.
Teaching vacancies are usually advertised on university websites.
Scholarships and Awards
If you excel in your research area, you may be awarded a scholarship or award from your university or a funding agency.
The amount of funding will vary, largely depending on your chosen university and field of study.
If you’re really struggling for money during your course, contact your university’s financial advisers – they’ll have some money set aside to help students in financial difficulty, so they might be able to help you.
Universities offer money to students from their hardship funds on a case-by-case basis, so funding isn’t guaranteed, but it’s definitely worth talking to them about if you need emergency cash.
Charities, Foundations and Trusts
There are a growing number of charities, foundations and trusts that help students studying in their fields of interest.
To find out more organizations you can contact for funding, look online and chat to people at your university such as Student Support Services and your tutors.
Some graduate schemes and jobs require you to undertake some postgraduate study and, in many cases, this can be funded for you through employer sponsorship.
This will be the perfect opportunity to further your studies and increase your employability while getting the necessary funds to cover expenses.
If your employer doesn’t have a further-study scheme, you may need to put together a strong business case explaining how it will help you do your job and add more value to the business.
Always make sure you fully understand the terms of any contract, as you will sometimes have to pay back money if you leave the employer within a certain period.
Part time job
In addition to applying for the other funding options on this list, you can also consider working part-time to pay for living expenses.
But, some courses will require more hours of study per week than others, so a part-time job may not always be possible. If you think you can manage it, it will be worth it (and our tips for balancing work and study should help).
Having a flexible and understanding manager is one too very Big difference.
Family and savings
If your family is willing and able to help finance your education, it can really help to get financial support from them.
In addition, we recommend trying to save some cash before starting your master’s degree.
One option is to take a year off, get a full-time job and possibly live in a home for little or no rent. We know this isn’t ideal if you’re keen to go straight into your studies, but you can save quite a bit of money by doing this, which will be easier to get by when you start your postgrad.
Crowdfund your master’s degree
Crowdfunding your degree is by no means easy, but it is possible.
We’ve heard from plenty of students who have run successful crowdfunding campaigns and managed to secure the funds they needed to cover their master’s degrees.
If all else fails, and you’re really willing to put time and energy into your campaign, crowdfunding could be a great option for you. Our guide to crowdfunding a degree has all the information you need to get started.
You may have also come across advertisements from companies like Future Finance, which are promoting personal loans aimed at students. While these loans may seem tempting, we would strongly suggest that they be considered as a last resort, after first trying other lower-risk options – like the ones on this list.