How to get funding for postgraduate study


Embarking on further study needs careful consideration but don’t let the costs put you off. There are many ways to obtain some financial support and we’ll take you through them here.

Embarking on further study needs careful consideration but don’t let the costs put you off. There are many ways to obtain some financial support and we’ll take you through them here. The important thing is to apply early and take as much care over your application letter as you would a job application. Competition is high and you need as much support for your case as you can get – find out about the entry criteria and make sure your application is complete so it makes the shortlisting process. You will need to clearly demonstrate why postgraduate study is so important for you. 

·         Points to think about when making your application

-  Why does this subject interest you?                      

-  How is your thesis or dissertation relevant to the funding body you are applying to?

-  What are your future plans and ambitions?

-  Why is it so important to you to study this subject?

Government loan – it’s not means tested but there are some basic criteria that you’ll need to meet. The loan is up to £10,000 and repayable when you’re earning over £21,000, and can be used towards tuition fees, living costs or other costs that you might incur with your study. Apply as early as you can to make sure the finances are in place at the start of your course – you don’t need to have a confirmed place on a course to make your loan application. Find out more here

University funded PhD – this will happen for a small number of students. Some universities can offer scholarships, bursaries or discounts on some of their courses.  If you can demonstrate that you have potential for outstanding research or are academically excellent, you may receive a scholarship.  Each university varies so speak to the Finance Department at the university for more detailed information and find out how to apply. Some universities are offering the GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistantship) – where PhD students can receive financial support and training if they can teach some classes, mark papers, host tutorials and give demonstrations in labs.

Employer – some employers will pay for further study, you might need to agree to work for them for a fixed period, or they may offer an interest free loan – speak to your company and see what they can do to help you. If your further study will help your performance and career progression, then there are advantages to both parties. Some companies have existing training schemes and many larger employers will actively encourage and support further study particularly in terms of continuing professional development (CPD) – architects, solicitors and primary school teachers for example.

Banks - loans are available from banks, known as Professional and Career Development Loans, they are often offered at a reduced interest rate and the government will pay the interest while you are studying – find out more here

Charitable trust or society – competition is tough but these organisations provide financial support for both postgraduate and postdoctoral research. The awards can be small (between £100 and £1000), but will be non-repayable grants and can be used towards your tuition fees. Acceptance of one does not limit you from applying for others – this is called ‘portfolio funding’. It is worth applying for these especially if

·         you’re at a disadvantage when compared to your peers (as a result of income, family circumstances or a disability)

·         your research is linked to your community

·         your research is linked to improvements and advances in your chosen subject (particularly health)

Have a look here for more help .

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) – this is an alternative to sponsorship by your employer as it’s a combination of a recent graduate, a company and an academic institution. About 350 are created each year and you can find out more here –

The institution will employ the graduate, and they will work on a strategic business project for between one and three years whilst receiving a competitive salary and gaining their fully funded qualification.

We can’t reiterate strongly enough, preparation is key – and making your application as strong as it can be will give you the best chance in a competitive world. Use all the mybrink tips and hints in our guides to ensure you’ve done your best!

From the mybrink team, good luck!