Studying for a master’s degree can be a great idea as it advances your education and can even give your resume a boost too. However, the decision can be a bit more complicated, particularly when it comes to the nitty gritty parts of it like finances. When it comes to topics like these, students are often left searching for answers about how it all works. Well, look no further as this article will give you all you need to know about student finance and funding for a master’s degree.
Continue reading to gain a better understanding of how student finance work for a master’s degree. This article will answer your burning questions, such as what students loans you can get for a master’s degree and what other funding is available.
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Does student finance fund master’s degree tuition?
Throughout the UK, students student finance can fund master’s degree tuition. This is in the form of a student loan known as a postgraduate master’s loan.
Due to their being different student finance companies in each of the UK’s countries, how this postgraduate master’s degree loan works in each can slightly vary.
Despite this, there are some fundamental similarities between these, the main one being the purpose of the master’s degree loans. All postgraduate master’s loans are designed to help with the costs of funding your master’s degree tuition fees, as well as to help with the living costs you will have during your course.
To learn more about this, check out this page on the government website.
Who can get student finance for a master’s degree in the UK?
As already established, it is possible for students to get a postgraduate master’s loan in order to help them pay for their tuition fees as well as to contribute to their living costs while studying a master’s degree.
However, while it is possible, this might not particularly be the case for all students. Due to this, it’s important to look at the criteria students need to meet to be eligible for a postgraduate master’s loan.
Look at the following list to see what these criteria are.
- Students must be on a full master’s degree
- Student must be on their first master’s degree
- Students must be under the age of 60
- Students must be a UK or EU national
- It must be the student’s only form of government funding
- Students must be on a course of a specific length
While these are the criteria for a master’s degree student to be eligible for student finance in the UK, they are a little bit vague. For a better understanding of these criteria, please refer to their respective subsections below.
The information included in this section and the following ones was taken from this Think Student article.
Students must be on a full master’s degree to get student finance
This means that the qualification can’t just be master’s degree level, it must be an actual master’s degree, where students do the full 180 credits. In this way, students doing master’s degree level qualifications, such as a PGCert, PGDip or a PGCE won’t be eligible for this postgraduate master’s loan.
Students must be on their first master’s degree course to get student finance
This means that students will only be eligible for the funding if they don’t already have a master’s degree qualification or a qualification higher than this. This is the case regardless of where students received the qualification and so even if their previous master’s degree was from another country, they will not be eligible for this loan.
Students must be under the age of 60 and a UK or EU national to get student finance
Some of the criteria about who is eligible for a postgraduate master’s loan is based on who the student actually is, rather than the course itself or what they’re studying. This is primarily to do with their age and nationality status.
In order to be eligible for this loan, the student applying for it must be under the age of 60 at the time of beginning their course. Students would also typically need to be over the age of 18, although this isn’t always explicit.
The other main requirement that focuses on the student themself, is the one based on residence. To be eligible, the student needs to have lived in either the UK or an EU country for at least 3 years before their course starts.
It must be the student’s only form of government funding for them to get student finance
If you are able to apply for another form of government funding for your master’s degree, you won’t be able to apply for this postgraduate master’s loan.
This might be in the form of a healthcare bursary from the NHS or a social work bursary from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. You will be able to learn more about these alternative forms of funding later on in this article.
Students must be on a course of a specific length to get student finance
If studied full-time, your master’s degree course will need to only last 1 or 2 years for you to be eligible for this funding. If studied part-time, the course must be a maximum of 4 years.
While this does sound very specific, in the UK, the vast majority of master’s degree courses are either 1 or 2 years to be studied full-time and so most will be covered. However, this may not quite cover all of them.
Can you get full funding for a master’s degree in the UK?
For the undergraduate student loan, students can expect to receive full funding of their tuition fees as well as a maintenance loan. As a result, you might be wondering if you can expect the same for a master’s degree student loan.
For a postgraduate master’s loan, students can apply for as much as they need up to a certain amount. As of August 2023, students can apply for a student loan of up to £12,167.
As the master’s degree loan isn’t means-based and so isn’t based on your or your family’s income, anyone will be able to get this full funding of £12,167. This is as long as they are eligible based on the criteria that was previously mentioned. For more information about this, check out this guide on the government website.
However, whether this will actually count as “full” funding will depend on the costs of your course and your living costs. Unlike for an undergraduate degree, there is no cap on how much a master’s degree can cost.
This means that these costs will vary depending on what the course is and which university you study it at. This also means that how well this postgraduate master’s loan can cover you master’s degree costs and act as full funding for even just your tuition fees will also vary.
Later on in this article, we’ll look at the costs of a master’s degree in the UK and how well this loan would allow students to cover these costs.
Do you get maintenance loan for master’s?
In the UK, for undergraduate study, students are able to get a maintenance loan to help towards their living costs while at university. This is separate to the student loan that students get to cover their tuition fees. For more on this, check out this guide on the government website.
For master’s degree study, students are unable to get a maintenance loan. This is because the master’s degree student loans are organised differently so that the loan students receive is for them to manage both their tuition fees and their living costs.
In this way, you could look at the postgraduate master’s loan as a combined tuition fee and maintenance loan. However, as previously mentioned, this won’t particularly cover all your costs.
Please note that this information is mainly true for England and how the master’s loan is organised may slightly differ in other parts of the UK. For more on this, check out this guide by Find A Masters.
How much does a master’s degree cost in the UK?
In the UK, the average cost for a taught master’s degree will be around £8,740. For a laboratory-based master’s degree this can be slightly more with an average of around £10,306.
A research master’s degree’s average cost is slightly lower than these with fees from about £4,000. However, an MBA degree will typically be much more expensive with an average cost of around £19,722. To learn more about these figures, check out this Think Student article.
This shows that even with applying for full funding of £12,167 (as of August 2023) that you may still not be able to fully cover you tuition fee costs. Moreover, as we’ve already established, your postgraduate master’s loan is to contribute towards covering both your tuition fee costs and any living costs that you have during your master’s degree.
As a master’s degree student, you will also have living expenses to cover, including your rent, bills, groceries, transport, course materials. You may also have to pay for other expenses, depending on your personal situation, including childcare. For more information about these costs, check out this article by Postgrad.
All in all, these costs can add up to anywhere from around £630 per month to as much as £1,700 per month, depending on your location. To see the average living costs for a master’s degree student for a selection of different places in the UK, as of 2023, please look at the following table.
|Location||Average monthly cost|
To learn more about these figures, check out this article by Find A Masters.
How do you pay for a master’s degree?
While we’ve looked at the main way for students to pay for their master’s degree, there are still various other ways that this can be done. For a master’s degree, students may also get some other kind of loan, get a bursary or get a grant to help them cover the costs of their master’s degree.
While we’ve looked at the postgraduate master’s loan from the government, students can also use bank loans to pay for their master’s degree. In particular, there are certain types of loans, designed particularly to help students, some may even be designed for particular types of master’s degrees, such as for MBA students.
As previously mentioned, you may be able to get a government bursary to help fund your master’s degree, if you’re on a certain course. The main ones that you can get are the NHS’ healthcare bursary and the social work bursaries.
Other than that, you may be able to get a grant or scholarship from a charity or trust. These may be based on your background or it could be due to your academic achievements. Alternatively, you may be able to get support from your employer.
Does the NHS pay for master’s?
The NHS may help you pay for your master’s degree in the form of the NHS healthcare bursary. The NHS healthcare bursary is for students studying to be a doctor or a dentist on NHS-funded courses, regardless of whether this is undergraduate or postgraduate study. Unlike a student loan, you won’t have to pay this bursary back, however it still has certain criteria.
These include the following.
- You need to be at a certain stage of your course– At master’s degree level, you will most likely be on the 4-year accelerated graduate course of either Medicine or Dentistry. For this, you will need to be in the 2nd year of your 4-year course to be eligible for this funding.
- You need to be a UK national- To be eligible, you will need to have lived in the UK, Channel Island or the Isle of Man for at least 3 years before your course starts.
As it is a means-based bursary, how much you receive will depend on your household income. For more information about this, check out this page on the government website.