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In This Guide:

  • Why Postgraduate Study?
  • Master’s Loans
  • Postgraduate Doctoral Loans
  • Training Bursaries and More
  • What are Studentships?
  • Help from Charities
  • Other Sources of Financial Help
  • Funding Yourself

Once you have graduated from a university degree, diploma or equivalent, you will be entitled to study further on your own basis via a number of different, extensive disciplines.

For those hoping to make their mark on their given industry or in their given field, doctorates, PHDs and Master’s degrees are all great ways of both broadening your mind and your horizons.  These types of education standards are a little different to those you may have experienced before, in the sense that you will largely be undertaking research, study and practical practice on your own steam – there may still be tutor-guided workshops, study sessions and one to one collaborations, but postgraduate study largely revolves around the work you put into it.

These types of degree do also require up front funding and sometimes arrive without the maintenance options for undergraduates unless you have specific needs or requirements – however, there are still plenty of funding options for you should you wish to continue studying after graduation.

Why Postgraduate Study?

Postgraduate study and research is still immensely popular and the vast majority of universities and higher education bodies within the UK support learning beyond BA degree or equivalent graduation.

Postgraduate study is largely open to those who are aiming for doctorates, research opportunities and those who are simply looking to broaden their knowledge. Certain postgraduate disciplines can take several years and may even result in the publication of a paper or even a book – meaning that it requires concerted effort and talent as well as a willing to succeed.

Regardless of whether you are studying for an MA, a PHD, an MPhil or similar, there are funding opportunities available to help you cut the cost of study.

Master’s Loans

If you are studying for a Master’s degree or MA (or equivalent), you may be entitled to a loan which will help to cover both the cost of tuition and certain living costs – you could be able to claim up to £10,969 for your whole course if you are due to start after 1st August 2018 – though you must bear in mind that, in a similar fashion to finance available for undergraduates, you will be required to pay this finance back once you are earning over a certain amount of money.  With this type of loan, you will need to be earning at least £21,000 before deductions will start to be made. This type of loan is particularly helpful to those students who are undertaking postgraduate study right away after graduating – though your eligibility will depend upon your course, your age and status within the UK – amongst other factors. GOV.UK has a comprehensive guide to what to expect from these loans via their online guide.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loans

These loans are available for certain courses – doctoral degrees – and, as of 1st August 2018, you could be entitled to up to £25,000 in the form of a loan to help pay towards both tuition and any applicable living costs.

PHDS and doctorates can cost considerable money – which is why it is all the more important to look into this type of bursary before you make any strides to apply or confirm your place.

As with Master’s loans, you’ll need to start repaying this type of finance once you are earning over £21,000 per year – and it will either be deducted from your monthly wage, if you are on payroll, or you will be expected to account for it in any tax returns you file if you are self-employed.

Further information is available from both your local student loans company and GOV.UK – and once again, your application will depend upon a number of factors that will be made clear to you before you finalise your application.

Training Bursaries and More

There is more to postgraduate study than MA degrees and PHDs – particularly when it comes to making waves in industries such as those relating to healthcare, social work or even education itself, there are a number of courses and routes you can take to make sure that you find yourself the right ladder to climb up.

For example, if you are interested in becoming a healthcare professional, the NHS (National Health Service) continues to support those who wish to learn and to progress in the industry with bursaries and awards – and these will particularly apply to those students who are keen to get involved on training schemes to help fast-track their careers.  Medical students may also get access to additional loans through Student Finance England should they face fees over a threshold of £3,465.

In addition to this, you can also get financial help through Initial Teacher Training if you wish to start teaching people yourself – teacher training is increasingly competitive and, as such, more and more awards and financial support is becoming available to those who wish to go on and teach for themselves.

You can also make a break into social care with social work bursaries, largely available to support those who wish to help in their local communities – as more and more places are becoming available.

What are Studentships?

In some cases, you may find a studentship to your taste – largely funded and set up by Research Councils UK, these scholarships effectively fund you to undertake research positions – covering tuition and living expenses in many cases.

It is always worth looking into studentships if you are interested in taking on extensive research in your field or if you would like to study further at your own pace. Once again, certain factors will be taken into account and you can always ask for help from Research Councils UK, GOV.UK or relevant admissions boards.

Help from Charities

You may not have considered approaching a charity or trust for financial help with postgraduate study, but there are plenty of options available to you – certain grants and bursaries are supported by various charities and trusts in the event that you are unable to fund your study, yet show aptitude and passion for what you intend to progress in – financial help from these bodies will therefore largely revolve around your personal circumstances and your overall academic ability.

It is worth consulting guides such as the Charities Digest or the Educational Grants Directory to find out more about charities and trusts who are available to you and who offer bursaries and financial support as standard.

Other Sources of Financial Help

Postgraduate study is particularly revered and, in many cases, you will be able to find extensive funding from a variety of sources providing you show passion and academic achievement in your field.  Therefore, thinking outside of the box may sometimes be necessary if you are in need of funding a certain discipline or degree and none of the above apply. It’s worth remembering that disabled allowances may also apply to postgraduate study you wish to undertake – do consult bodies such as Student Finance England and GOV.UK if you are in any doubt about eligibility.

It may firstly be worthwhile consulting the institution you are set to study at.  Many universities have supported students financially through postgraduate learning and research through individual donations – meaning that, if you appeal to a specific individual who may be noted or invested in your field of expertise, you could receive generosity via the institution you are set to partner with.

You may also even be able to seek financial support from your employer – if you are already working in your field of expertise or towards your career goal, you may find willing financial support offered by those who already pay your wage. It is certainly worth enquiring.

If you haven’t considered learned societies in terms of research funding, you may wish to appeal to one or two bodies who are related to your specific field.  Some will willingly aid and support those who show aptitude and willing to make waves in certain fields and industries – for example, if you are set to undertake a postdoctorate in any form of science, the Royal Society may be interested in helping to patronise your study and research.

Funding Yourself

Many people take the leap and decide to try and fund themselves in terms of postdoctorate research and postgraduate study – while it is certainly possible if you have the ability to save considerably, it may not always be so easy.  It is always worth approaching the above bodies and avenues discussed above when it comes to taking on extra study – particularly as you may be surprised to find a number of bodies and institutions interested and invested in your academic potential – and your potential in your field.

Postgraduate financing doesn’t have to be a minefield – do take care to look into all of the available options and resources and don’t be afraid to put yourself forward to even the most unlikely of sources – postgraduate study is just as much about passion for a particular field as it is about academic excellence – do discuss funding with institutions and experts as listed above where convenient!