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

From the beginning of academic year 2017-2018, postgraduate tuition fee loans for Northern Ireland students will be available. 

You can find out more about these loans and get the application forms at the link below:

Professional and Career Development Loans

You may be able to meet some of the costs of your study through a loan. A Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL) is a bank loan (provided by the co-operative bank) which is designed to help pay for work-related learning, training and qualifications to improve job skills or launch a new career. PCDLs range from £300–£10,000 and cover up to 80 per cent of course fees.

These loans can help to fund a wide range of courses lasting up to two years, or three years if the course includes a year of work experience.  

While you are studying, and for one month after you've stopped, the government pays the interest on the loan. After that, you would pay the loan back in the normal way. If you have been unemployed for a minimum of three months you may be able to apply for a loan to cover 100 per cent of your fees.

For more information on PCDLs and to find out if you are eligible to apply:

Postgraduate awards

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.

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