Funding for Masters study is more complex than for undergraduate courses, as, with the exception of PGCE courses, student loans are not available. Fees vary widely and funding is in short supply. Your starting-point should be your course provider, who will be able to tell you about any funding available through the department or institution and also which other sources of funding previous students have used. Finding a scholarship that will cover all of your course fees and your living expenses will be difficult.
Most institutions offer a small number of scholarships to encourage applicants to their courses. Generally speaking, if they are available the university will publicise this on their web site as well as on directories such as FindAMasters (click the SCHOLARSHIPS icon in the course descriptions). Whilst some scholarships are available across all subject areas, others are specific to a particular course or discipline. Competition for these scholarships is often very high.
Charitable Trusts and Learned Societies
There are a large number of charitable trusts and learned societies that offer a limited number of grants (usually between £100-£1000) to postgraduate students. Tracking these down can be a time-consuming exercise, but should bring back some return. See our article on alternative sources of funding for more details.
Career Development Loans
Professional and career development loans are offered by a number of UK banks. You’ll need to be under 40 to qualify, and the maximum loan amount is £10,000. If you want to do an MBA, The Association of MBAs offer the NatWest MBA Loan with preferential interest rates (you can borrow up to two-thirds of your gross annual pre-course salary plus course fees).
UK Research Councils
The UK Research Councils (www.RCUK.ac.uk) do fund some research-focused Masters programmes. In particular the 1+3 or New Route PhD programmes. These programmes begin with a taught Masters degree in the first year and are followed by a 3-year PhD programme. Funding usually covers course fees and a tax-free maintenance grant. Masters degrees which have the opportunity for research council funding will be advertised as such. FindAPhD.com lists a number of these programmes, usually referred to as ‘4-Year’,’ 1+3’ or ‘New Route PhD Programmes’.
You should not apply to the Research Councils directly. Depending on the award scheme involved, either the university will have been awarded the studentship by the Research Council and will use their own selection process to choose the student or you will put in a joint application along with the help of your university.
Sponsorship from your Employer
If you are working and want to study part time some employers may help you with your course fees, or by offering flexible working.