Financing your postgraduate course
Whether you decide that a postgraduate course is right for you, you need to decide how you will fund your course. Depending on your course, you may be eligible for a grant or reward.
Financing yourself or seeking help from your employer
The tuition fees for postgraduate study vary depending on the institution and course, but usually run to several thousand pounds. The course prospectus will have information on the cost. You also need to consider accommodation and living costs, which also can vary depending on where you live during your study.
Some students work for a year between a first degree and postgraduate course, to help finance their studies. Another option is to study part-time while working in a full-time job, although you need to make sure you can juggle work with your coursework. If your proposed course is related to your job, you could ask your employer to sponsor you.
If your employer can't help you with course fees, you could ask about time off to study for exams or write assignments. Some employers offer work-based learning schemes as a flexible option to help you progress in your career.
Postgraduate tuition fee loans in Northern Ireland
The Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan is available for courses starting after 1 August 2017. If you start a postgraduate course during the 2023/24 academic year, you may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan of up to £6,500 to help with the cost of your course fees. If you started the course before the 2023/24 academic year, the maximum loan available is £5,500.
For more information on your eligibility and how to apply, see Postgraduate students.
Most students will need some help with meeting the cost of their course. Searching for an award can be a major exercise in itself so you should leave plenty of time for your research.
Some courses are advertised in the national press complete with funding. Sometimes the university will offer their own award or administer awards from external organisations. Some independent organisations and charities offer financial help to eligible students. While there are awards of varying amounts offered, there are also a lot of students seeking funding so competition can be high.
Research Councils UK
There are seven Research Councils in the UK, which distribute government funding in various postgraduate subject areas. If you wish to apply for Research Council funding, you should check if your chosen course is eligible for Research Council funding and if so apply directly to the Higher Education institution.
Applying for funding
It is important before applying that you read the application guidance carefully. Know exactly what costs the funding will cover. Take note of the application deadline and give yourself plenty of time to apply, remembering that in most cases you will need to apply for a place on your chosen course and a scholarship/award separately. If you are applying to do postgraduate research, you may also have to write a proposal, so it may help if you discuss your research plans with the school / faculty before applying.
Remember you will be judged on the information you give in your application (along with your research proposal if applicable) so make sure you include all the information you are asked for.