Funding your postgraduate study or research

Funding and Loans

Funding options for postgraduate study can be complex, with a number of options available for different areas of study. We have outlined below the most popular funding options for students, and further information from The University of Manchester can be found here.

University places are offered on the understanding that candidates will have enough funds to cover all of their costs before the course commences. Most universities will let you pay your tuition fees in two or three instalments throughout the year. Some universities offer a discount to students who pay their personal contribution of the full fees in advance or at the time of registration. Others require candidates to pay a non-refundable deposit when accepting an offer of a place.

In England, fees can vary widely between courses and institutions so always check the exact sum with your prospective institution. (Some universities offer a discount in fees to their alumni). Check fee arrangements and eligibility in the rest of the UK. You may also need to consider further costs such as living expenses, laboratory fees, accommodation fees, travel (including trips home), books and equipment.

Loans

If you have funded an undergraduate degree through a student loan you will be familiar with the student finance system. A guide to Postgraduate Loans (PGL) at The University of Manchester can be found here. Information covers both UK and International Students.

Further information on Postgraduate Loans can also be found:

UK PhD loans are also available for research postgraduate degrees:

Funding information UK

Most institutions will offer a small number of scholarships. The eligibility criteria will usually reflect the values and purposes of the founder of the award and is usually discipline-specific. The amount of money awarded depends on the scholarship, in many cases the award covers a substantial part of the tuition fees.

Bursaries differ from scholarships as they take into account the financial need of the student. Bursaries usually range from £100 to £4,000. The sum of money may be deposited into the student’s bank account, so they can use it to pay for any university related expense they choose or the university may automatically deduct it from the tuition fees.

Funding opportunities at The University of Manchester can also be found through Student Support.

PGT courses

There are very limited opportunities for UK Government funded Master’s courses. Funding is allocated, via the UK Research Councils, directly to universities. Universities will advertise and select students who will receive funding. Funding for stand-alone Masters is limited to research preparation Master’s (Arts and Humanities) and a few professional vocational Master’s (Arts and Humanities, and Bio/Medical sciences). Other Master’s level funding is generally allocated as part of an integrated 4 year PhD.

PhD programmes

There is more funding available for PhD courses due to funding streams for research. Speak to prospective departments and PhD supervisors to find out what funding is available for your subject.

Government funding for PhDs is allocated, via the UK Research Councils, directly to universities and research institutes. Universities advertise and select the students who will receive funding – you do not apply directly to the Research Councils. This funding generally comes with training and is often part of a package of support from a number of universities. These are variously known as Doctoral Training Partnerships or Centres (DTPs and DTCs), or Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). Check adverts from these partnerships/centres or individual universities to find Government funded PhDs.

NB UK Research Council funding is not available to international students.

Charitable funding

Whilst most charities are small, there are some major players in research funding, such as the Wellcome Trust and the Leverhulme Trust. As with the UK Research councils, these generally allocate funding to universities and research institutes. You do not directly apply to these large trusts.

Funding search websites

Some other areas to look at when researching funding:

Other ways to fund your course

  • Part-time work: Many postgraduates undertake part-time employment to help fund their studies. Be realistic about how many hours you can work while studying. The University of Manchester recommends that you work no more than 15 hours / week. Part-time jobs are advertised on CareersLink.
  • Residential Pastoral Adviser Employment: The University of Manchester employs many postgraduate students to work in its Halls of Residence as Residential Pastoral Advisers. (Other universities may offer similar opportunities.) Using your own experience of university life, you will be required to work in a team providing pastoral support and guidance to residents (which also sometimes includes matters of a disciplinary nature). In return you will be provided with accommodation paid for by the university in the Hall itself. You also do not have to pay for any bills (i.e. electricity, water, internet access) however if you obtain a position in a catered Hall of Residence, you will have to pay for your food. Recruitment usually takes place at Christmas, Easter and over the Summer (all PG students will receive an email when vacancies are available).

For PhD Students

  • Graduate teaching and research assistantships: It may be possible to earn money teaching or as a research assistant where you are studying. Under the scheme, research postgraduates receive direct payment or a waiver of fees in return for undertaking teaching or research duties. Ask your department about this option. Posts may be advertised throughout the year on www.jobs.ac.uk, in the educational press and in relevant publications, such as The Guardian, The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement, and New Scientist. However many opportunities may be only advertised locally ask in your department.
  • Employer-funded study: In most cases, this sponsorship is allocated to a university or research institute who advertise and select the students. You do not apply to the industrial sponsor directly. In a very small number of cases, a company (such as GSK) will advertise its own co-sponsored PhDs. These opportunities are rare!
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP): This scheme enables graduates to work within a commercial environment (being paid a salary at industrial rate) whilst studying for a higher degree and with support from academic experts. For information on the national scheme, organised through KTP visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/knowledge-transfer-partnerships-what-they-are-and-how-to-apply

Funding for International study

You may be able to work while you study, check the student visa regulations - you are not entitled to work as a student in all countries. There may also be limits on the amount of hours or type of work you can do. E.g. you may be able to work on campus but not in the town. Some universities also fund graduates through teaching assistantships, particularly in the USA.

Many governments wish to attract bright scholars from around the world; consequently there are opportunities for funding, usually for the most academically able. Look on the relevant government or the country’s embassy website for details.

Associations, professional bodies, charities, foundations and trusts

There are hundreds of organisations that offer partial funding for postgraduate study. Some may offer several hundred awards per year and others only one. The types of funding include scholarships, bursaries, maintenance allowance funds, grants, studentships and competitions. Most awards will not cover the entire cost of living and tuition fees.

The majority of awards have very specific criteria for eligibility such as the type of subject being studied or the nationality of the applicant. The following book list sources of funding:

  • The Grants Register: the complete guide to funding worldwide, Palgrave Macmillan. Available online via University Library

Overseas study funding websites

  • Jobs.ac.uk overview of funding options
  • Erasmus+ programme .The Erasmus loans are only available to nationals of an Erasmus programme country to study a complete Masters abroad in another Erasmus programme country. Detailed information on funding for international students is provided in each country profile.
  • Find a Masters
  • Find a PhD
  • Research Professional. Grants for postgraduate study worldwide, fieldwork, travel costs, studentships, fellowships etc. Access via on campus computers only.