Masters Course Funding - an introduction

Many students need at least some funding to study for a masters level course. This page gives you a brief introduction to the main types of masters course funding, and some useful pointers to where you can find further information on the different types of funding available.

There are five main types of funding available for masters students to consider:

Bursaries and Scholarships from Universities
Sometimes these can also take the form of a fee waiver, or an alumni discount. These are funds that Univerisitis make available to students who are applying that University's courses. They are usually announced and advertised by universities on their own websites and on portal websites such as PostgraduateStudentships, with many announcements appearing between January and May each year. These funds can only be used at the university offering them, and they cannot be spent elsewhere. Normally you will apply for the funding either at the same time as you apply to the masters course at the university, OR once you have been offered a place at the university. Generally the money offered will only cover part of the total cost for fees and living expenses, rather than the full cost.

Loans and alternative funding routes

- The new Postgraduate Loan for Masters students is available to some students who have been resident in England for the past three years - find out if you are eligible, how the loan works and how to apply here

- The Scottish Government has confirmed plans for £10,000 Masters loans in 2017. Further information is available here

- From the beginning of academic year 2017-2018, postgraduate tuition fee loans for Northern Ireland students will be available.  Whilst the exact details are yet to be finalised, it is hoped that you will be able to apply for non-means-tested tuition fee loans of up to £5,500, to help with course costs, from Summer 2017. This page will be updated in Spring 2017 when further information is available.

- Wales is planning to introduce postgraduate loans and grants with a maximum value of up to £17,000 from 2018. We will post more details as they are confirmed.

- Erasmus+ Masters Loans : Erasmus Masters Loans are offered by banks, not governments. This means the programme is being rolled out gradually as more banks choose to take part. As of 2016, loans are available in Spain, France and, most recently, now the UK. EU Postgraduates moving to or from the UK can now get flexible student loans to help towards tuition fees and living costs from Future Finance .

Additionally here are a small number of funding providers offering loans for postgraduate students. These organisations usually loan a few thousand pounds to cover part of your fees and living costs, but again they are unlikely to cover everything. Most require you to start paying back the loan either immediately or shortly after the end of the course, irrespective of whether you have a job by that point. It's very important to read the small print carefully and to check the rate of interest that these companies are charging.

Charity funding
Some charities offer funds that intending masters level students can apply for, and our funding database (see links below) allows you to see these funds by subject area. Charity funds are useful if the course you are applying for has no university funds available. Charities usually have criteria based around one or more of academic excellence, financial need, and the specific area or aims of the charity. Mostly, the funds charities make available will help towards fees and living expenses but are unlikely to cover the full amount you may need. Some charities have rules that you cannot apply to them if you are already getting funding from elsewhere so its always advisable to read the criteria carefully before applying.

Employer funding
If you are working, you may be able to ask your employer if they will contribute towards the cost of the course. There may be a specific employee scheme for this, or it may be a one-off. If you are able to demonstrate how the course will benefit your organisation, as well as yourself, that is more likely to make it attractive to your employer. If they are unable to offer you money they may offer you time off for study. In either case they may ask you to commit to staying within the company for a specified time in return for their support. If you leave during that time you may have to pay back any money they have paid out for your course. It is always advisable to get this kind of agreement in writing and to check the small print.

Self-funding: you, your savings and your contacts
Many students find they end up paying either all or part of their course fees and living expenses. You may need to choose a part-time time or distance learning course to enable you to work whilst studying. As far as possible, we'd suggest you plan carefully in advance to be sure you will have access to enough money to complete the course, so that you don't have to give up part way through. Some universities will require you to show you have enough money for both fees and living expenses before allowing you to enrol.
There have been a few instances of students using crowd-funding to finance all of part of their courses, but this is very tricky unless you have lots of contacts, and a strong convincing reason that will convince people to support you in this way.

£5000 MastersCompare Postgraduate Scholarship
Simply register on MastersCompare and tick the Scholarship box to be entered. The scholarship will be allocated in a draw during October 2017.

Further Information
You can find:
Further information and more detail on different types of funding available to masters course students on PostgraduateStudentships, including information on organisations offering loans.

The latest masters funding currently available from universities, charities and organisations offering loans which you can browse by subject area, on PostgraduateStudentships. You can filter the results to show charity funding only, and/or funds for international students only.