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Funding for Postgraduate Study

Funding Your Masters Degree: Explore Your Options and Finance Your Education. 

Undertaking a Masters degree is a big decision. Whether you’re thinking about Masters study as a progression from your undergraduate degree or considering it after being in the world of work for a while, there are lots of important things to consider. The top of that list is likely to be “How can I afford a Masters degree?”. This daunting question can cause a lot of anxiety, but this blog explores some of the facts about how to fund your postgraduate study whilst myth-busting some popular misconceptions.  

A typical UK Bachelors degree can cost up to £9,250 annually. The average annual cost of  a Masters degree in the UK is £8,740 for a home student. International Masters fees can be significantly higher, with the average being £17,109.  


 Type  E.g  UK  International



MA (Arts / Social Sciences) 








MSc (Science / Engineering) 








MRes / MPhil 














*Based on the 2021-22 Reddin Survey of UK postgraduate fees, published by the Complete University Guide as well as additional research and calculation by FindAMasters. Figures given are broad averages only and will not necessarily reflect fees for specific courses.   

It’s clear that considering a postgraduate degree clearly has a significant impact on your finances and financial planning. So, it’s important to know your options. Most people won’t be in a position where they can pay these fees outright, options to finance your postgraduate education include loans, scholarships, government schemes, self-funding and research grants. We’ll cover all of these options below.  

Can you borrow money for Masters? 

Getting a loan for your Masters degree is often the first consideration for many students. Loans mean you don’t have to worry about paying for your education up front and government loans can be treated in a similar way to your undergraduate loans, meaning the process will be familiar. What are some of the options for borrowing money for Masters?  

Postgraduate Masters UK Government Loan  

A Postgraduate Masters Loan from the UK Government, can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate Masters course. You can apply online or through the post. You should apply before you start your degree where possible, but you are eligible to apply within 9 months of the first day of the last academic year of the course. 

Who is eligible for a Postgraduate Masters Loan from the UK Government?  

The Government loan scheme follows a similar structure and process to the undergraduate counterpart that you are likely to be familiar with. You need to be under 60 years of age. You’ll need to be a UK national or Irish citizen, have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or have indefinite leave to remain. You need to normally live in England and have been living in the UK for at least 3 years.  

You should check your eligibility as this may change.  

How much student loan do you get for a Masters in the UK? 

Unlike some Undergraduate loans and grants the Postgraduate Masters Loan from the UK Government is not means tested, which means it’s not based on you or your family's income. Postgraduate loans are paid directly to you and you’re able to choose how you spend this money, whether that’s on fees or expenses. You’ll usually be paid 3 times a year in instalments.  

As of September 2023, the loan amount offered is up to: 


£12,167 if your course starts on or after 1 August 2023

£11,836 if your course started between 1 August 2022 and 31 July 2023

£11,570 if your course started between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022


Because Postgraduate fees are subject to change with inflation, you should check that your loan does cover your fees and expenses before applying.   

Can I get a Government maintenance loan for a Masters? 

No, the Postgraduate Masters Loan from the UK Government does not offer a separate maintenance loan. Unlike undergraduate government loans, postgraduate student finance is provided as one loan to help with tuition and/or living costs. 

What about Doctoral study or PhD?  

Postgraduate Doctoral Loans can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD. Like the Postgraduate Loan, they’re offered by the UK Government.  

Eligibility for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loans is very similar to the Postgraduate Loan scheme above. But you should check the details before applying. You’ll need to be a UK National or Irish citizen and live in the UK. You’ll usually be paid 3 times a year in instalments.  

As of September 2023, the loan amount offered is up to: 


£28,673 if your course starts on or after 1 August 2023

£27,892 if your course started between 1 August 2022 and 31 July 2023

£27,265 if your course started between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022


Because Postgraduate fees are subject to change with inflation, you should check that your loan does cover your fees and expenses before applying.   

Private Loans 

Many prospective postgraduate students also consider private loans to finance their studies and living expenses.  

Who provides private postgraduate student loans? 

Some national banks will offer loans on general terms that can be used to cover your postgraduate expenses like fees and living costs. There are also private loan companies that specialise in offering loans for Postgraduate study.  


Lendwise is a specialist loan provider dedicated to education finance for UK residents who are looking to fund their postgraduate degree, professional qualifications or short courses at leading UK universities. 

Future Finance 

Future Finance offers private student loans to help you fund your education. 

You should do your own research as many private loan companies have their own terms. The examples above are not endorsed by Northumbria University but rather show two popular options that are available. You should ensure that any loan you consider meets your precise needs and that you understand the terms of your loan. Private lending is not appropriate for all students. 

Who is eligible for a Private Loan  

Eligibility very much depends on the different companies offering loans. Broadly, most private loan companies that offer Postgraduate Education Loans are offered to UK, EU and even international students with a UK-domiciled address. You should check with your loan provider directly to find out if you are eligible.  

How much Private Loan will I receive? 

This depends on the type of loan you apply for.  Typically, private loan companies that offer Postgraduate Education Loan, offer loans based on future potential earnings. You can expect private loan companies to offer more than a Government loan because they are privately run. It can be tempting to take a loan that covers more than you need. But, before agreeing to any loan you should consider: 

The cost of your fees  

The cost of your living expenses including accommodation, food, travel etc. 

The time it will take you to find employment after you graduate  

Your own earning potential  

How much you can afford to repay 


Can I get a scholarship for Masters uk? 

There are options for scholarships at Masters level in the UK. Many scholarships are based on your performance, financial circumstances and chosen subject.  

Alumni Scholarships 

Most universities will offer a discount or partial scholarship if you choose to continue to do a Masters degree at the same institution you completed your Bachelors. Check with your University to see what they can offer. Usually, Alumni bursaries are offered based on your Bachelors degree result.  

Charity Scholarships  

Charitable organisations and trusts offer grants, frequently for students from underprivileged families or those with exceptional academic performance. You’ll need to search for Charity Scholarships that suit your needs. Good places to begin that search include: 

Educational Grants Directory 

Charities Digest 

Grants Register 

Directory of Grant Making Trusts 


Studentships for certain subjects  

Some subjects offer additional grants and studentships to encourage people to study in these fields. These subjects are almost always linked to public services like healthcare, teacher training and medicine. Some studentships are available for particular areas of government investment like engineering and computing. It’s worth doing your own research to find out what’s available to suit your needs.  

Initial Teacher Training 

Bursaries and scholarships are available to trainees on tuition fee-based teacher training courses in England that lead to the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). ITT bursaries are often based on the subject you wish to teach. Currently, there are bursaries available for trainees teaching, chemistry, computing, mathematics, physics, technology, biology, geography and languages. You should check to see if your subject offers a bursary, how much is offered and who is eligible as this information varies greatly.  

Social Work 

Social Work Bursaries are offered by the National Health Service Business Services Authority. This bursary is available to people who live in England and you must be applying to study on a course approved by either Social Work England (SWE), the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), Social Care Wales or the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC). You should check to see what courses are covered and other eligibility criteria as this may change.  

Other NHS Bursaries 

The NHS also offers other healthcare bursaries. You’ll need to be applying to an NHS-funded course which will lead to you registering as a doctor or dentist. NHS Bursaries do tend to be means-tested based on your household income. It’s important that you take time to review all the information about NHS Bursaries including who can apply and how much you could receive. 

Research Council Funding  

Research Councils provide funding to PhD and Doctoral students to carry out research on various topics. These studentships do not need to be repaid and usually include a stipend for living costs as well as programme fees.  

Research Councils in the UK provide funding for different subjects of academic research.  

These include: 

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 

Medical Research Council (MRC) 

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) 

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). 

Usually, you’ll need to apply to a research council with the support of a university and supervisors. You would normally only apply for research council funding when you have been offered a place of study for your PhD.  

If you’re interested in applying for research council funding you should speak with your department and supervisors, often they can offer application support. Research Council Funding is very competitive. Applications are often judged on whether research is meaningful, interesting, and nationally or globally impactful.  

Usually, Research Council Funding covers PhD programmes only, though some (often called 1+3 options) include either a Masters degree or MPhil qualification.  

Other ways to pay for your Masters  

If a loan isn’t an option for you, and you aren’t able to source a studentship or bursary then there are a few options to make paying for your postgraduate education more manageable.  

Working whilst you study 

Postgraduate degrees tend to be designed with flexibility in mind. Often, you’ll have the opportunity to study part-time at Masters level. This means that you may be able to manage a full or part-time job alongside your studies. The workload of a Masters degree, very much depends on the subject that you’re studying. If part-time study alongside work is something you think would be helpful for you to consider, it’s worth speaking with your chosen university or department about how you might manage this. You may also wish to consider distance learning options or online Masters courses which could mean that you save money on relocating and settling in a new place. Online and Distance Learning courses may also offer slightly reduced rates compared to classroom-based programmes.  

Your employer  

If you’re already in work then you may wish to approach your employer about your postgraduate studies. Many employers have Continued Professional Development schemes. If your chosen postgraduate degree was closely related to your development and performance in your job, then your employer may be able to offer support. Even if your employer isn’t able to offer financial support it’s worth enquiring about flexible working options. Your employer may be able to protect some of your working hours to complete your studies, for example.  


In conclusion, undertaking a Masters degree can be a big financial decision, but there are various options to fund postgraduate education. The cost of a Masters degree in the UK varies based on whether you are a home student or an international student, as well as the type of degree you are pursuing. The UK Government offers Postgraduate Master's and Doctoral Loans to eligible students, which can help with course fees and living costs, with varying loan amounts based on when the course started. Additionally, private loans, scholarships, self-funding, and research grants are other options for funding a Masters degree. It is important to consider all options and understand eligibility criteria before deciding on how to fund postgraduate education. The university you are interested in can likely provide you with some support, it’s worth checking their fees and funding pages and getting in touch with the subject department or admissions team.  


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