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The Cost of a Masters - Postgraduate Fees and Living Costs for 2019

What will a Masters degree actually cost you? The answer may not be as obvious as you think.

Postgraduate fees can vary greatly between different subject areas, universities and countries. And, wherever you study, you’ll need to cover living costs and other study expenses.

This page is here to help you. 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 £7,392.

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 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) £7,392 £14,620
Laboratory MSc (Science / Engineering) £8,167 £16,222
Clinical MSc (Medicine / Dentistry) £12,912 £22,732
Research MRes / MPhil £4,000+ £10,000+
Business MBA £18,410 £19,924

*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 £7,636 £10,609
Scotland £6,276 £10,000
Wales £7,197 £13,000
Northern Ireland £5,500 £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 2019 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 2019-20 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 UK 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 in the UK

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).

UK student living costs

The most important factors shaping your living costs during a Masters will be related to your lifestyle and circumstances. What kind of accommodation will you be living in? Do you go out often? How often will you need to travel away from your university?

We can't predict these, but we can give you some sense of representative student living costs in different UK university cities. You can use this information to broadly compare options for postgraduate study. It could also help you decide whether living near your university will be more expensive than commuting from home (or opting for a distance learning Masters).

The following table is based on crowdsourced data for what we think are typical student living costs in different cities (there's more detail on how we've calculated these, below).


Living costs in UK university cities
City Monthly Cost City Monthly Cost
Aberdeen £895 Hull £670
Aberystwyth £700 Inverness £725
Bath £1,025 Lancaster £730
Belfast £760 Leeds £865
Birmingham £895 Leicester £745
Bolton £740 Lincoln £800
Bournemouth £915 Liverpool £790
Bradford £695 London £1,665
Brighton £1,085 Luton £905
Bristol £995 Manchester £945
Buckingham £1,575 Middlesbrough £615
Cambridge £1,100 Newcastle £900
Canterbury £1,005 Northampton £785
Cardiff £865 Norwich £770
Carlisle £670 Nottingham £800
Chelmsford £975 Oxford £1,180
Cheltenham £895 Plymouth £755
Chester £760 Portsmouth £915
Colchester £840 Preston £710
Coventry £855 Reading £1,120
Derby £705 Sheffield £735
Dundee £770 Southampton £840
Durham £900 St Andrews £1,035
Edinburgh £1,000 Sunderland £750
Exeter £820 Swansea £915
Glasgow £865 Wolverhampton £690
Guildford £1,180 Worcester £710
Huddersfield £690 York £870

The information is based on crowdsourced data submitted to Numbeo and calculated using their cost of living estimator.

We've based our examples on an individual student sharing in a three-bedroom city-centre property, purchasing a monthly travel pass and going out approximately once a week with other optional expenses (eating out, coffee, clothing purchases, etc) kept to a minimum.

Needless to say, this information is only meant as a very general guide.

Estimating your own postgraduate living costs

Sadly, we don't know you well enough to work out your personal student budget. But you do. Your living expenses as a postgraduate won't have changed that much since your first degree. Bear this in mind when estimating postgraduate living costs.

Accommodation

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 cost for this will vary dramatically between different cities and even within them. We've included representative costs for someone sharing a three-bedroom city-centre flat in our living costs table above, but you should probably look at actual costs in more detail. And by 'probably' we mean 'definitely'.

One way to do this is to look at local student letting agencies for the city you're planning on moving to (your prospective university may be able to get you started with some recommendations).

Understanding postgraduate accommodation

You could have a few different housing options available for your Masters, including postgraduate-specific halls as well as general student dormitories and various types of privately rented accommodation. Our guide to choosing postgraduate accommodation provides more information.

Masters fees in Europe

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.

Postgraduate fees in Europe

The following table compares typical Masters fees in Europe, by country:


Masters fees in Europe (€)
Country EU Fees International Fees
Austria None* 1,454
Belgium (Flanders) 906 3,000
Belgium (Wallonia) 836 3,000 (avg)
Czech Republic None** None**
Denmark None*** Variable
Estonia 1,500-7,500 1,500-7,500
Finland None Variable
France 256 256
Germany None None****
Greece 3,625 (avg) Variable
Hungary 970-8,715 Variable
Iceland 595-15,880 595-15,880
Ireland 6,000-9,000 (avg) 9,000-30,000
Italy 1,467 (avg) 1,467 (avg)
Netherlands 2,006 Variable
Norway None None
Poland None 2,000-3,000
Portugal 1,063 Variable
Romania 2,000-5,000 2,000-5,000
Russia 2,200-2,480 2,200-2,480
Spain 3,000-7,200 (avg) Variable
Sweden None 13,121 (avg)
Switzerland 862-3,448 Variable
Turkey 268-397 (avg) Variable
*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.
****German universities in the state of Baden Wurttemberg can charge international students up to €1,500 per semester.

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.

Postgraduate living costs 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:


Postgraduate living costs in Europe (€)
Country Rent Utilities Travel Total
Austria 390 60 45 495
Belgium 370 45 50 465
Czech Republic 295 55 20 370
Denmark 540 50 50 640
Estonia 230 60 25 315
Finland 395 40 55 490
France 425 45 60 530
Germany 440 70 70 580
Greece 155 45 30 230
Hungary 230 50 30 310
Iceland 700 30 95 825
Ireland 685 45 120 850
Italy 345 50 35 430
Netherlands 550 55 80 685
Norway 590 50 80 720
Poland 235 50 25 310
Portugal 350 30 35 415
Romania 165 30 15 210
Russia 230 30 25 285
Spain 340 40 45 425
Sweden 405 20 80 505
Switzerland 770 50 65 885
Turkey 115 15 30 160
Figures are calculated based on crowdsourced prices for one person's share of rent and utilities in a three-bedroom city-centre together with a monthly 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, unlike the previous table for different UK cities, we haven't included leisure, groceries and other expenses here - remember that you'll need to budget for these too!

Postgraduate costs in other countries

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.

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 - 10/10/2018

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