What will a Masters degree actually cost you? The answer may not be as obvious as you think.
The price of a postgraduate course can vary greatly between different subject areas, universities and countries.
There’s also more to the cost of a Masters than tuition fees. Wherever you study, you’ll need to cover living costs and other study expenses.
We’ve put this page together to help you, with detailed information on the cost of postgraduate study in the UK and Europe. We've also summarised some of the other expenses you may have to budget for during a Masters.
Knowing how much you’ll have to pay for postgraduate study will make your search for funding more effective – and help you budget during your course.
Postgraduate courses in the UK are normally cheaper, per year, than undergraduate courses.
Whereas a typical UK Bachelors degree can cost up to £9,000 (rising to £9,250 in 2017), average fees for a UK Masters are currently £6,486.
That’s the average for a UK or EU student on a taught course. However, the full range of UK Masters fees is quite broad.
Course fees for UK Masters programmes are set by individual universities (unlike undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees aren’t subject to a fee cap). This means that fees vary between universities and courses. They can also change, year-on-year.
UK universities also offer a wide variety of Masters degrees, including taught and research qualifications in different subjects. Some tend to cost more than others. These differences reflect the facilities and resources required for a course and how expensive it is for the university to deliver.
Finally, it’s important to remember that international students (from outside the EU) usually pay more to study in the UK.
The following table displays representative fees for different types of postgraduate course in the UK.
It doesn’t reflect the actual cost of any specific degree, but it can give you some idea of what your fees might be for a particular UK qualification.
|Degree Type||UK / EU Fees||International Fees|
|Taught (MA, MSc)||£6,486||£13,442|
|Research (MPhil, PhD)||£4,000-5,000||£10,000-20,000|
The information in this table based on the most recent survey of UK postgraduate fees, published by the Times Higher Education magazine, as well as additional research carried out by FindAMasters.
Most involve studying select modules or other parts of a taught Masters, without a dissertation.
This makes them an ideal option if you’re seeking to gain postgraduate skills and experience without committing to a full Masters degree.
They’re also cheaper. But, as with full Masters degrees, the cost of a PGCert or PGDip can vary.
You can generally expect fees for a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) to be around a third to a half of those for an equivalent Masters. Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) courses will be more expensive, but still cheaper than a full Masters.
A PGCert or PGDip can be a great option if you want to access Masters-level training without committing to a full year of study - perfect for people seeking new skills and professional development. See our guide for more information.
University fees in the UK are higher for international students (from outside the EU). This applies to postgraduate courses as well as undergraduate degrees.
Students from other EU countries don’t pay higher fees to study a Masters in the UK. Instead you will pay the same rate as a ‘domestic’ or ‘home’ student.
This remains the case regardless of the result of the UK’s EU Referendum. EU students beginning a Masters (or PhD) in the UK in 2017 are covered by fee and funding guarantees. These will apply for the duration of your degree, regardless of Brexit.
All parts of the UK have introduced guarantees for EU students beginning a degree in 2017. These entitle you to pay 'domestic' fees and access public funding (such as postgraduate loans) for the duration of your course.
The cost of a UK Masters may vary, but most students are eligible for a wide variety of funding options.
Your postgraduate fees will account for a large proportion of the cost of your Masters degree. They won’t be all you have to pay, however.
You’ll need to cover accommodation expenses as well as food, drink, entertainment and other living costs – just as you did during your undergraduate degree.
After all, your lifestyle may change slightly as a Masters student, but you’ll still need to put food on the table and a roof over your head (the university library doesn’t count).
You’ll need somewhere to live whilst you study your Masters. The cost of this will depend on your existing arrangements and your preferences.
Thankfully, many UK universities now offer halls of residence specifically for postgraduates. The cost of this will normally be £100-150 a week, depending on what’s included. Check with your university for more information and advice.
If university accommodation isn’t available (or desirable) you’ll need to rent privately. The following table gives a (very) rough estimate of accommodation costs in major UK university cities:
|City||Monthly Rent||City||Monthly Rent|
The figures in this table are based on crowd-sourced data collected by Numbeo. They reflect the monthly rent real people have reported for a city-centre apartment in each location.
This information can be a useful rough guide to accommodation prices in popular UK university cities.
However, it shouldn’t be taken as an accurate indicator of actual rental rates – or used to produce conclusive comparisons between individual locations.
Wherever you live, you’ll also need to eat, drink and pay bills. Unfortunately, these costs are a lot harder to pin down.
For one thing, they may well be included in your rent: if your accommodation is catered and includes utilities.
If they aren’t, you’ll need to pay them separately. The good news, however, is that living costs during a Masters shouldn’t be any higher than living costs during an undergraduate degree.
Calculating typical student living costs for each UK university is much harder than getting an average for accommodation rates. There are far more variables to consider and many of them are dependent on your own lifestyle.
This means that trying to provide average figures here would be fairly pointless. So we haven’t.
What we can do instead is refer to the UK Government’s general guidelines for student living costs. These are the amounts the Government expects an international student to have in order to qualify for a Tier 4 Student Visa.
At present these are:
These are the minimum amounts the Government estimates a student will require for living costs whilst studying (including accommodation).
Your actual costs may be higher (or lower) depending on your lifestyle and requirements.
The best source of accurate information on living costs for your Masters may actually be your university. They'll be able to provide advice on accommodation and student expenses in their local area. Some may also be able to recommend local landlords and other resources.
You’d think that the cost of a Masters would vary quite extensively across individual European countries. And you’d be right.
It’s not quite as complicated as you that though.
For one thing, postgraduate fee caps are much more common in Europe than they are in the UK. For another, it’s actually possible to study a Masters courses in some European countries for free.
The following table compares typical Masters fees in Europe, by country:
|Country||EU Fees||International Fees|
|Italy||1,262 (avg)||1,262 (avg)|
|United Kingdom||7,465 (avg)||15,471 (avg)|
|*Austrian universities will charge additional fees to students who exceed the maximum study duration for their courses.|
|**Czech universities will charge additional fees for foreign language programmes.|
|***Danish universities will charge additional fees for part-time programmes.|
With the exception of the UK, fees given here are based on figures collected by the European Commission. (They give the typical price for one year of study on a full-time Masters degree. Note that many European Masters programmes last for two years).
For more detailed information see our individual guides to Masters study in Europe.
If fees vary across European countries, it stands to reason that the cost of student life in different cities within those countries varies even more.
The following table compares the cost of accommodation, travel, utilities and groceries across European countries:
|Figures are calculated based on crowdsourced prices for monthly rent (one-bedroom city-centre apartment), utilities (electricity, heating, water and waste disposal) and an urban travel pass. Original data published by Numbeo.|
As with the other tables in this guide, you'll need to use the above information carefully. Actual prices will vary significantly across cities and according to your lifestyle. Note that food and other groceries are not included here.
It's difficult to produce an accurate comparison of tuition fees and living costs in every study abroad destination, however, our guides to international postgraduate study provide useful information for popular countries outside Europe.
Tuition fees and living costs will account for most of the cost of your Masters. But you may also need to budget for other postgraduate expenses.
We’ve picked a few to be aware of, below.
You won’t normally need extra health insurance to study a Masters in your home country. Instead you’ll be covered by any existing public or private healthcare. Or you may not need a policy at all.
The situation is likely to be different if you’re studying abroad though.
Unless you’re part of a reciprocal scheme such as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you’ll probably need to purchase insurance to cover you during your Masters.
Basic insurance won’t usually be too expensive. Your university may provide extra details, or even be able to sell you a suitable policy.
Most countries charge a fee for processing your visa application and issuing the required documents.
Needless to say, you’ll only need to pay visa fees if you’re studying abroad. But studying abroad won’t necessarily mean that you have to pay visa fees. Some groups of countries (such as the European Union) don’t require student visas for their members’ citizens.
Some universities charge a small amount to process Masters applications. Others accept students through postgraduate application portals that charge their own administrative fees.
This won’t always be the case. In the UK, for example, there is no centralised system for postgraduate admissions and most universities don’t charge application fees for Masters degrees.
Your university will be able to provide detailed information about any administrative fees it charges. Our guides to Masters study abroad also explain postgraduate application fees in specific countries.
Some courses require students to complete graduate admissions tests in order to gain a place on their Masters programmes.
These are separate to standard admissions fees: they cover the cost of sitting the test and receiving a score, not the cost of processing your overall application. Fees vary depending on the test you’re taking.
Both are more common in the USA than elsewhere, but universities in other countries may use them. The GMAT, in particular, is popular with prestigious business schools assessing applicants to their MBA programmes.
If you’re studying abroad in a second language, you may need to submit a score from a recognised language test.
This won’t always be the case: existing experience studying in a language will usually suffice instead of a test score. So will other relevant evidence of your language skills (such as having lived and worked abroad).
However, studying at postgraduate level may sometimes require a more advanced test or higher score than would be requested for an undergraduate degree. Check with your university if in doubt.
Different countries have their own preferred language tests, though many universities will accept more than one. See our guides to international language tests for postgraduate study, for more information.
Travel costs are easy to overlook, but they can add up quickly. Unless you’re living in university accommodation you’ll need a way of getting to and from your postgraduate classes.
It’s a good idea to look at typical costs for busses, trams or trains in your university city and factor these expenses into your budgeting.
And remember: if you’re studying abroad you’ll also need to travel to your destination country – and be able to get home once you’ve finished your Masters.
Once you know how much a Masters is likely to cost, the next thing to do is work out how you'll meet that cost! Our guides to postgraduate funding can help.
Last updated - 20/03/2017