Find funding for a master’s degree

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The main sources of funding for undertaking a master’s degree are government student support loans and grants from higher education providers and research councils. Educational trusts and charities may also offer small amounts of funding.

Government support

State-funded student support for master’s degrees includes postgraduate loans to help cover tuition and living expenses, and Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) to cover additional costs that may stem from a student with a disability.

Postgraduate Masters Loans

Education is a decentralized matter and each UK nation offers a slightly different set of support for postgraduate students. Students should apply in the country where they normally reside, not where they might be studying.

  • In 2022/23, Student Finance England will offer a loan of up to£11,836 to help with tuition and living expenses.
  • In 2022/23, Student Awards Agency Scotland will provide a loan of up to£5,500 to help with tuition fees, and a loan of up to £4,500 to help with living expenses.
  • In 2022/23, Student Finance Northern Ireland will offer a loan of up to £5,500 to help with tuition.
  • In 2021/22, Student Finance Wales offered a combination of loan and grant up to£18,025 (the maximum grant amount was £6,885) to help with tuition and living expenses.

Living expenses assistance loans are paid directly to the student in regular installments. Repayments begin after graduation when the student’s earnings exceed a minimum threshold. Reimbursement amounts will be tied to the student’s income.

Eligibility

A student’s eligibility for aid will depend on the respective rules of the country where they usually reside. Eligibility will generally be determined by course, provider, age, previous level of study, and nationality or residency status of the student.

Further information is available at the links to the appropriate student funding organization above.

Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)

Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) helps to cover additional costs a student may incur due to a disability, including a long-term medical condition, mental health problem, physical disability, or learning difficulties. specific learning conditions such as dyslexia or dyspraxia.

DSA can help you pay:

  • Specialized equipment, such as a computer or disability-related software.
  • Non-medical help, such as a British Sign Language interpreter.
  • Day-to-day education costs related to the student’s disability.
  • Travel costs.

Eligibility

The amount of DSA a student is entitled to will depend on their individual needs and the UK nation in which they reside. Students should apply to the relevant student funding body. They may need to provide proof of their disability and attend an education needs assessment to establish the support needed.

More information is available in the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) 2022 guide produced by the Save the Student website.

University support

Higher education providers (HEPs) will typically have several sources of funding available to prospective masters students, including scholarships, scholarships and fellowships for expanding participation, and graduate discounts.

Support may result in a fee waiver, fee reduction, living allowance or lump sum which the student can use as they wish. The most generous funding sources are likely to be competitive.

Opportunities will be advertised on provider websites (the UK university funding information pages have been compiled by the FindAMasters website) or on postgraduate funding sites, such as Postgraduate Search.

Academic scholarships

Many HEPs will have scholarships available for master’s students who have demonstrated academic excellence in their undergraduate degree. These awards may be offered university-wide or offered by particular departments.

When applying, a student’s transcript of results will be taken into account and they will often need to explain why they want to study their chosen course and how it relates to their career plan. The student may also be required to produce a research proposal for a thesis or a project.

Expand participation in fellowships and fellowships

HEPs may also offer scholarships or bursaries aimed at students from underrepresented groups in higher education. For example, students from ethnic minorities, care settings or disadvantaged areas.

Although all scholarships are likely to be competitive and awarded based on the student’s academic achievement, scholarships will generally be available to anyone who meets the criteria.

Discounts for graduates

Many HEPs offer a fee reduction for students who choose to stay or return to their former institution for a master’s degree.

Often a fixed percentage or amount will be deducted from the course fee, but the size of the reduction may be tied to the student’s performance in their undergraduate degree.

Research Council Funding

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) oversees seven research councils, which distribute funds to universities for students and research projects across all academic disciplines.

Most Research Council funding is for students pursuing doctoral degrees, but some is available for students wishing to do a master’s which could be followed by doctoral research. These courses can take the form of a stand-alone “research preparation” masters or, more commonly, form part of an integrated masters and doctoral programme. In these programs, the student spends the first year completing a taught master’s degree, before undertaking a doctorate in the subject.

Scholarships will be advertised on university websites. They are usually awarded on the basis of a student’s academic performance and sometimes also the quality of a research proposal. Funding will help cover tuition and often living expenses.

Charities and Educational Trusts

Charities and trusts sometimes award grants to postgraduate students who have demonstrated academic excellence and/or come from a background in which the organization has an interest. These sums will generally only be small sums, but it is possible to combine them. Students must generally apply directly to the organization, and eligibility varies depending on the nature of the scholarship.

The House of Commons Library holds a number of reference works to help identify relevant grants (login required). These books may also be available at major public libraries. They include:

  • The Scholarship Guide (Directory of Social Change)
  • The Grants Registry: The Complete Guide to Postdoctoral Funding Around the World (Palgrave Macmillan)
  • The Directory of Granting Trusts (Social Change Directory)

Organizations such as Turn2Us, Family Action, and Funds Online have searchable online databases of grants that may be available.

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