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The Cost of a Masters - Postgraduate Fees in 2021

The average cost of a taught Masters degree in the UK is £8,407, 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 a UK student on a classroom-based taught Masters are £8,407. There's a bit more you need to know to properly understand how postgraduate fees work.

How postgraduate fees work

Unlike undergraduate fees, which are subject to a cap, the costs for UK Masters programmes are set by universities themselves.

This means that degrees in the same subject can cost more or less than others. There are also different types of Masters degree and the costs for these differ too.

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


Average UK Masters degree fees
Type E.g. UK / EU Overseas
Classroom MA (Arts / Social Sciences) £8,407 £16,082
Laboratory MSc (Science / Engineering) £9,647 £18,613
Research MRes / MPhil £4,000+ £10,000+
Business MBA £19,647 £21,754

*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.


As you can see, fees vary for different types of degree, broadly reflecting how expensive they are to run (a Masters in English or History doesn't require the same facilities and consumable resources as one in Chemistry or Engineering).

One final thing to bear in mind is that, because they aren't capped, UK postgraduate fees tend to rise slightly with inflation each year. That actually means that your fees can sometimes go up a little in the second year of a two-year Masters (though most full-time UK Masters degrees are one-year long).

Why do international students pay more?

Like undergraduate fees, UK Masters fees are higher for international students (including most EU citizens from 2021 onwards). This is partly because universities receive some money from the UK Government to subsidise the cost for domestic students.

Fees in different parts of the UK

The cost of a Masters also varies quite a bit across the UK, partly due to differences in the way universities (and students) are funded.

Here's a quick comparison of average classroom-based taught Masters fees in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 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 £8,666 £11,570
Scotland £7,329 £10,000
Wales £7,850 £17,489
Northern Ireland £6,110 £5,500

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

Following Brexit, the majority of EU citizens will now count as international students and pay higher fees for a UK Masters. There are some exceptions for students from Ireland and for EU nationals who were already settled or settling in the UK prior to 31 December 2020.

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 - 11/01/2021

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