Your guide to UK PhD and masters degree funding

Written By

Think Postgrad

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are masters expensive?
  • Is a masters degree free?
  • How much is an online masters?

This article tells you about the types of funding that Universities make available for both Masters and PhD students and where and how to look for it. With the UK no longer part of the EU, many are asking how to fund a masters of PhD. There are different requirements regarding Postgraduate Masters loans provided by the government for UK and EU students. Please check your residency status.

If you’d rather not take out a loan, what other masters funding do universities offer?

Discounts for alumni of the university – usually around 10%. This can be linked to the attainment of a required level for your Undergraduate degree, often a 1st class degree or a 2:1

Bursaries or Scholarships offered by Alumni of the University that are open to all to apply for, or something to students from a particular country.

Particular Scholarships or Bursaries attached to individual courses – this is often buried in departmental websites and not widely publicised.

Scholarships or Bursaries made available at Faculty, School or University level for Masters students. Look out for these in particular around the time of open days in the spring and summer.

Why is there more funding in the UK for PhD students than Masters students?

There is more funding for UK (and in some cases EU) PhD students because there is specific government funding for PhDs channeled from Research Councils directly to the Universities, as well as the funds that Universities sometimes are able to make available to students from their general funds. When you are approaching the mid-point of your undergraduate or masters programme it will help if you start to look for these opportunities so you can think about your options well in advance.

Where and when is funding for PhDs announced?

Funding for PhDs is usually announced in the form of advertisements (eg on as well as on other postgraduate websites) from October onwards as well as on the Universities’ own websites. Academics sometimes also send out information about PhD studentships they have on specific subject related academic mailing lists, but these opportunities should be advertised on other channels as well.

What do I need to be aware of when looking for UK PhD funding?

Universities with large amounts of PhD funding may announce it as early as October. The largest announcements usually take place between November and February each year. There is then sometimes another smaller set of announcements around May or June.

Deadlines can be very different from University to University, or even within the same University, so always check each individual closing date.

Studentships listed by subject area – in the sciences, computing and engineering this can mean funding for very specific named projects, usually attached to a bigger research project that a research group or a single academic is doing. In the arts and social sciences there is sometimes for flexibility for creating or influencing the research project.

Studentships listed as ‘University Studentships’ or similar – as this usually means that there is a specific number of studentships but that they can be in any subject area offered by the University, or a specific list of subject areas. Check to see if it includes your subject area even if these are not mentioned.

Studentships advertised as being from a Doctoral Training Centre, or Industrial Doctorate Centre are very prestigious and show the University’s excellence in that area, as well as their commitment to their PhD students. These are often 4-year studentships and students receive additional career related training and a particularly high quality PhD programme. These can include the cost of tuition plus a generous stipend, alongside a research training support grant.

Is there funding for International students?

If you are an international student, some Universities will also make funding available to you, sometimes with funding available to students from specific countries. Some may allow you to apply for the general postgraduate funding that is available and pay the difference between the Home and International student fees. Although not full funding this can still save you a substantial amount of money. Where funding for International students is available this will always be shown on the relevant study funding opportunity on Postgraduate Studentships.

Next Steps

Looking for a Masters? Search and compare Masters courses now on MastersCompare

Looking for PhD Funding? Meet leading UK Universities with funding on offer at our annual PhD Funding Fair in December.

Receive Email Updates of the latest PhD and Masters opportunities and funding as they are added to PostgraduateStudentships and MastersCompare. Tell us about your search for postgraduate study or ask us a question on our Think Postgrad Facebook page.