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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Funding postgraduate study

There’s lots of competition for postgraduate funding, so apply as early as possible. Funding applications for both taught courses and research places usually have to be in by the spring before starting your studies in the autumn.


Some postgraduate positions come with funding attached. These are called studentships. Studentships can cover both fees and living expenses, but there tends to be a lot of competition.

To find out more about finding and applying for studentships, see ‘Finding a postgraduate place’.

Initial Teacher Training, social work, medical and healthcare courses

The financial help available may be different for courses in:

  • Initial Teacher Training
  • social work
  • some medical or healthcare disciplines

If your postgraduate place doesn’t come with funding

If your place doesn’t have funding attached, then you’ll need to think about how to pay for your studies.

The main costs you’ll face are tuition fees and accommodation and living expenses. Tuition fees vary from course to course. Usually, they will run to several thousand pounds.

It’s common for postgraduates to help fund their studies by:

  • using savings
  • combining study with work
  • applying for financial help from some of the sources listed below

Where to look for financial help

You can search for postgraduate awards of all kinds on the Hot Courses and Prospects websites.

Awards vary greatly. You will need to check:

  • the amount of the award
  • whether you receive a one-off payment or a series of payments throughout your studies
  • whether it covers fees
  • whether it covers part-time or full-time study
  • whether it covers masters degrees or doctorates

Charities and trusts

Many charities and trusts provide postgraduate students with grants. Often, financial help is reserved for students from poorer backgrounds, or for those who’ve achieved academic excellence.

You can find out more about charities and trusts at your local library. Useful publications include:

  • the Educational Grants Directory
  • the Charities Digest
  • the Grants Register
  • the Directory of Grant Making Trusts

You can search for funding from educational trusts on the Educational Grants Advisory Service (EGAS) website.

Learned societies

Some learned societies offer financial help for postgraduate or postdoctorate research. These include:

  • British Academy (for humanities and social sciences - postdoctoral research only, not postgraduate)
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering (for engineering)
  • The Royal Society (for science - postdoctoral research only, not postgraduate)

Privately funded scholarships

Individuals may donate awards to help fund postgraduates. These are usually offered through the university or college at which you’ve been accepted.

Professional and Career Development Loans

A Professional and Career Development Loan allows you to borrow money and pay no interest while you study. You can borrow up to £10,000 to help fund up to two years of study. If your learning includes one year of relevant work experience, you can extend the loan to three years.

Financial help from your employer

If the course you want to do is related to your job, you may be able to get your employer to sponsor you. It may help to present the idea as a business case, emphasising the benefits to them. See ‘Getting training at work’ for some ideas.

In large companies, the human resources or training department may have information about any funding schemes.

Smaller companies are less likely to have formal arrangements, but may still be able to offer funding. They are more likely to help if your postgraduate study would be of benefit to the firm.

If your employer cannot provide funding, they may be willing to offer paid or unpaid study leave.

Disabled Students’ Allowances

Postgraduate students with an impairment, health condition or learning difficulty may be able to get financial help from Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs). You can apply for DSAs for both taught courses and research places.

Postgraduate funding in Scotland and Northern Ireland

In some cases, postgraduates from Scotland can apply for funding from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

In Northern Ireland, the Department for Employment and Learning and the Education and Library Boards provide postgraduate funding for certain courses.

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