There is one thing on the mind of all prospective graduate students: money.
Each year in the UK, thousands of students enrol into masters or doctoral programs. Postgraduate degrees are often necessary for professional development. They also open up new career opportunities that didn’t exist before.
But these advantages come at a price. Postgraduate degrees are not only intense and time-consuming, but they are also expensive.
Are you trying to figure out how to fund your studies? Are you lost wading through all the different funding options? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about postgraduate student finance.
Tuition Fees for Postgraduate Study
When it comes to postgraduate tuition, fees differ depending on your university, chosen program of study, and study area.
But graduate school fees don’t provide an accurate indication of the cost of a postgraduate degree. Why? Because there are many other expenses such as living costs, rent and travel costs. These all add up to form the true cost of a postgraduate degree.
A postgraduate degree in the arts or sciences may cost you anywhere from £3,000-£10,000 per year. An MBA at a regular university costs from £7,500-£13,500 per year. However, some prestigious business schools charge up to £30,000.
A master’s degree is a postgraduate degree awarded by a university that signifies the completion of an advanced program of study in a specific field.
The majority of master’s programs require you to first complete a bachelor’s degree in the same, or a similar, field. Master’s graduates can demonstrate ‘mastery’ of a particular subject. They also possess advanced skills in analysis and problem-solving.
Many choose to complete a Masters degree for career development, while others just want to expand their knowledge of a particular subject.
A Doctor of Philosophy also called a PhD, is the highest university degree that you can obtain. PhD degrees can be earned across a wide range of fields.
A PhD is an advanced research degree. It requires students to produce original research that expands the collective knowledge on a particular subject. This is done in the form of a dissertation or thesis.
Becoming a university professor or academic researcher requires the completion of a PhD degree.
How to Fund Your Studies
So you’ve decided to pursue a postgraduate degree in the UK? Now all you need to know is how to fund it.
There are several options you can explore for funding your studies. Here are the different options available to help you pay for graduate school.
A number of universities in the UK offer scholarships/bursaries for certain programs. These bursaries range from £1000 to £3000 or even more.
Keep in mind, these scholarships are limited. They are funded through donations or special schemes and are very competitive. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply.
To find out more information on bursaries, take a look at the Postgraduate Search website. You could also contact your university directly to request more information.
Research Council Funding
One of the best options for securing funding is to enquire with the appropriate research council.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is a public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. They are the largest public funder of research in the UK.
The organisation is made up of nine different councils, seven of which are interdisciplinary research councils.
The seven research councils are:
- Arts and Humanities Research Council
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
- Economic and Social Research Council
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
- Medical Research Council
- Natural Environment Research Council
- Science and Technology Facilities Council
These seven councils provide funding to universities for certain subjects and programs. They may allocate a certain amount of money for scholarships at the Masters or PhD level. You can apply for research council funding through your course provider.
Another funding option for postgraduate studies is a studentship. Studentships are usually only available to PhD students. They provide full or partial funding for a predetermined program.
Studentships are awarded by the UK’s 7 different research councils as well as by certain universities in the form of bursaries. Many professional bodies also fund PhD research programs.
So how much much money can you receive from a studentship? Usually, it’s three years of funding. Depending on the program, either just your fees will be covered, or you’ll receive money towards your living expenses as well.
Studentships sometimes require the student to work at the university for a period of time. This involves teaching undergraduate classes and tutoring other students. This can be time-consuming and it’s important to balance your time between work and research.
Many UK charities and trusts offer small grants for postgraduate students. These grants are modest but every little bit can help.
Many people don’t think of charities when looking for postgraduate student finance opportunities. However, according to the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding website, although charities can be a bit unusual, there are many that will consider funding you.
Funding from charities is not limited to program fees or research costs. This money can be put towards living expenses, travel, conferences and more.
Companies and corporations also offer sponsorship for postgraduate study. Masters degrees are important for career development and many employers highly value master’s graduates.
The kinds of programs that employers are willing to sponsor are usually career-oriented courses like business or law. Employers are interested in investing in training that will benefit their business.
Another option for funding your studies is to apply for a postgraduate loan. The UK government may loan you between £10,500-£11,222 for Masters courses depending on when your degree starts. Loans are available to students at any UK university.
PhD students can apply for loans of up to £25,000. This will cover the cost of your degree as well as a bit extra for living expenses and books. Once you get your first loan payment, you will be charged interest.
Government postgraduate loans are available for UK nationals who are ordinarily resident in England. There are other loans available to those that reside in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Various organisations also offer private student loans, such as Lendwise. You may get a more competitive rate if you choose Lendwise postgraduate student loans to finance your study program.
To get started, all you need to do is fill out a loan application.
Writing Funding Applications
It can be daunting writing your funding application. You want your application to stand out so that you can secure funding for your studies.
Always start working on your application early. It might take you some time to craft the perfect application letter, so don’t leave it till the last minute!
Get advice to on how to write your application by asking an expert in your field. Don’t be afraid to ask your program supervisor or other staff members for guidance.
Nothing is more important than writing a clear, well-organised application. Make it obvious what your research is about and why it’s important. Your application will be read by academics outside your subject area, so keep it simple.
You should write enthusiastically about your subject. Be passionate and help them to see the importance of your work by explaining the impact of your research.
Managing Your Money
Pursuing a postgraduate degree comes with a lot of expenses. Tuition fees, accommodation, travel, food and course books are some of the things you’ll need to budget for throughout your studies.
To make sure your money lasts right throughout the year, set yourself a budget. This way, you’ll know about much you can afford to spend on things like social engagements.
You could also consider working part-time during your course. Many people find it difficult to balance both work and studies, but it can be a good way to help finance all your different expenses.
Postgraduate study is intensive and time-consuming. If you do decide to get a part-time job to help pay for it, you’ll need to be well-organised and very focused. If you fall behind on your work, it can be hard to catch up again.
If you do decide to work during your studies, look for a job well before the beginning of the term. Many postgraduate students decide to work while they study, so you’ll be vying for jobs with many other students.
One of the best job options available to you is working at your university. You may be able to find a position doing administration, tutoring or assistant teaching.
Navigating Postgraduate Student Finance Successfully
A postgraduate degree, whether a Masters or PhD, is a valuable qualification that can increase your employability and broaden your knowledge of a particular subject.
Thousands of students enrol into postgraduate programs every year, but most require some sort of funding. Study programs are expensive and navigating the different funding options can be stressful.
After reading this post you should be more clued up to the different postgraduate student finance options available and how you can apply for them.