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The Cost of a Masters - Postgraduate Fees in 2020

The average cost of a taught Masters degree in the UK is £7,946, but postgraduate fees can vary greatly between different subject areas, universities and countries. You'll also need to cover living costs and other study expenses.

This page is here to help you understand the cost of Masters study. We've brought together detailed information on typical fees for different types of Masters degrees, across the UK and Europe. We've also summarised some of the other expenses you may have to budget for as a postgraduate.

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.

Masters fees in the UK

Postgraduate courses in the UK are normally cheaper, per year, than undergraduate courses.

Whereas a typical UK Bachelors degree can cost up to £9,250, average fees for classroom-based, taught UK Masters are £7,946.

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.

Understanding UK Masters fees

Course fees for UK Masters programmes are set by individual universities (unlike undergraduate degrees, postgraduate courses 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. This reflects the expense of the facilities and resources required to deliver a course.

Fees for different types of Masters

The following table displays average fees for different types of postgraduate course in the UK.

It doesn’t give the actual cost of any specific Masters degrees, but it can give you a benchmark for what your fees might be like for a particular UK qualification.


Average UK Masters degree fees
Type E.g. UK / EU Overseas
Classroom MA (Arts / Social Sciences) £7,946 £15,097
Laboratory MSc (Science / Engineering) £8,860 £17,493
Research MRes / MPhil £4,000+ £10,000+
Business MBA £18,624 £20,494

*Based on the most recent survey of UK postgraduate fees, published by the Times Higher Education magazine, as well as additional research and calculation by FindAMasters. Figures given are broad averages only and will not necessarily reflect fees for specific courses.

Fees in different parts of the UK

One thing that could significantly affect your fees for a UK Masters is the part of the UK you study in. This is due to differences in the way universities (and students) are funded across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The following table gives typical fees for a taught classroom-based Masters across the UK. We've also included the maximum postgraduate loan available to students 'from' each country, as a handy reference.


Masters fees in different parts of the UK
Country Average fees Max Postgraduate loan
England £8,210 £10,906
Scotland £6,837 £10,000
Wales £7,313 £17,000
Northern Ireland £5,900 £5,500

*Based on the most recent survey of UK postgraduate fees, published by the Times Higher Education magazine, as well as additional research and calculation by FindAMasters. Figures given are broad averages only and will not necessarily reflect fees for specific courses.


Remember, these are only representative averages. It isn't always true that a Masters in Scotland is cheaper than one in England, for example. Postgraduate loans are also portable (you don't have to study your Masters in the country you get a loan from).

Fees for other postgraduate courses

Not all Masters-level courses award a full Masters degree. Shorter courses leading to a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) or Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) are often cheaper.

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.

Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas

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.

Fees for EU students

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 2020 are covered by fee and funding guarantees. These will apply for the duration of your degree, regardless of Brexit.

Brexit and postgraduate study

All parts of the UK have introduced guarantees for EU students beginning a degree before the end of the 2020-21 academic year. These entitle you to pay 'domestic' fees and access public funding (such as postgraduate loans) for the duration of your course.

Fees for international students

University fees in the UK are higher for international students (from outside the EU). This applies to postgraduate courses as well as undergraduate degrees.

Our guide explains who pays international fees in the UK.

Masters funding in the UK

The cost of a Masters may vary, but most students are eligible for a wide variety of funding options.

These range from Government loans to charitable grants and bursaries. You can find out more in our guides to UK Masters funding.

Postgraduate living costs

Tuition fees aren’t the only thing you’ll need to take into account when budgeting for your Masters. Living costs should be an important consideration – accommodation, food and entertainment will likely eat up a large chunk of your finances for the duration of your course.

Our guide to postgraduate living costs in the UK will give you an idea of what expenses you may encounter during your Masters, calculating average monthly budgets across a range of British university towns and cities.

If you’re considering a Masters in Europe, we’ve put together a full guide to European Masters fees and living costs. Rounding up average postgraduate tuition fees in a range of European study abroad destinations, the page will help you work out which country could be the cheapest option for your Masters.

Other postgraduate study costs

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.

Health insurance

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.

Visa fees

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.

Our guides to postgraduate study abroad provide information on student visa requirements and costs in different countries, including popular destinations like the UK and USA.

Application fees

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.

Admissions tests

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.

The most widely accepted admissions tests for Masters study are the GRE (Graduate Records Examination) and the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test).

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.

Language tests

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

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.

The next step: funding

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 - 03/02/2020

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