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University Funding for Masters Students

Universities can be an excellent source of funding for prospective postgraduates, with many institutions running a variety of support schemes. These usually include Masters scholarships for outstanding scholars, postgraduate bursaries and alumni discounts for returning students.

This page is a guide to the types of university funding you can apply for, explaining how the different options work and what you could be eligible for.

We’ve also compiled a handy table of links to each UK university’s postgraduate funding page, giving you a great place to begin your search for a Masters scholarship or bursary.

University scholarships

Universities are keen to attract the brightest and best postgraduates, which is why most institutions will have a selection of scholarships that are open to Masters applicants.

The exact criteria of these funding schemes differ widely, but generally you’ll come across the following kinds of postgraduate scholarship at universities:

  • Academic excellence scholarships – These merit-based awards will be aimed at students with an outstanding academic record at undergraduate-level, who have usually achieved a First in their Bachelors. They might be department-specific or open to a variety of postgraduate disciplines.
  • Widening participation scholarships – Many universities have a commitment to making sure that talented students from a range of backgrounds can access their Masters programmes. As such, some need-based scholarships are intended for postgraduates in specific circumstances – for example, people with a disability, those who grew up in a deprived area or are from a black and minority ethnic group.
  • Masters scholarships for international students – In the UK (and elsewhere), tuition fees are considerably higher for overseas students, so universities usually run scholarship schemes to make a Masters more affordable for international postgraduates. These scholarships might be aimed at people from a specific country or region, or simply non-EU/EEA students in general.

Of course, there is sometimes a significant overlap between these types of scholarship, with academic excellence usually (but not always) a prerequisite for award eligibility.

International Masters scholarships

If you’re an overseas student looking to study a Masters in the UK, there are many scholarship schemes out there, operated by universities, charities and governments. We’ve written a guide to some of the best places to start your search for Masters funding as an international student.

What do Masters scholarships cover?

The financial element of most Masters scholarships will usually involve one (or a combination) of the following:

  • Fee waiver – Unsurprisingly, a fee waiver scholarship means that you won’t have to pay any tuition fees towards your Masters programme.
  • Fee discount – A fee discount will make your tuition fees cheaper, either by a set percentage or a lump sum. These reductions are often offered to that university’s current students or graduates in the form of alumni discounts.
  • Living costs stipend – This is a regular payment sent directly to your bank account. It’s up to you how you spend it.

Postgraduate scholarships from charities and trusts

Universities aren’t the only sources of scholarships – charities and trusts offer a variety of funding options for Masters students, ranging from smaller one-off grants to significant sums. Read our guide to postgraduate funding from charities to find out more.

Postgraduate bursaries

There is considerable overlap between postgraduate bursaries and scholarships (indeed, many institutions use the terms interchangeably).

However, as a rule of thumb university bursaries are usually non-competitive, open to anyone who meets certain widening participation criteria. Sometimes there is also a means-tested element for Masters bursaries.

Also, bursaries are always money paid directly to the student, whereas scholarships sometimes (but not always) include fee waivers and discounts. As such, the value of a postgraduate scholarship or bursary can vary considerably.

Discretionary grants for existing students

If you’ve already begun a Masters degree and are suffering from genuine, unavoidable financial difficulties, you may be eligible for a discretionary grant from your university to help make up any monetary shortfall. These special bursaries are usually only available in extraordinary circumstances, so you shouldn’t necessarily assume that you’ll be entitled to one.

Depending on the nature of your university’s student support fund, you may be able to claim a grant if you’re suffering from financial hardship and are:

  • A single parent
  • Disabled
  • A care leaver
  • Homeless
  • From a low-income background

This list isn’t exhaustive, and universities will usually have their own criteria for access to the support fund.

Alumni discounts

Alumni discounts are offered by many universities as a way of encouraging talented current (or former) students to stay on at the institution for postgraduate study. This could take the form of a percentage reduction in tuition fees (usually 10% or 15%), or a simply a set amount taken off your fees. Larger discounts may be available to students who achieved a 2.1 or a 1st in their Bachelors, although the numbers of these are sometimes limited.

Your university will automatically apply any discount to your tuition fee invoice – you won’t receive a cash sum in lieu of this.

There are usually certain conditions that you’ll need to meet in order to be eligible for an alumni discount:

  • You must be self-funding at least part of your course (for example, if you’re receiving full funding for a Masters from a scholarship scheme you won’t be able to claim the alumni discount). If you’re taking out a postgraduate loan, you will be eligible for an alumni discount, as this counts as being self-sponsored.
  • You may need to have graduated within a certain time frame – in the last ten years, for example. Students who attended a study abroad programme like Erasmus at the university in question are usually eligible for an alumni discount.
  • Alumni discounts are normally targeted at taught and research Masters programmes. At some universities, you may find that postgraduate certificates and postgraduate diplomas are also eligible for the discount.

Application processes differ from institution to institution. You may have to submit a separate application for an alumni discount at some universities, but in most cases the university will automatically provide the discount if you’re eligible.

Finding university funding

The good news is that there is plenty of university funding out there for talented prospective Masters students. However, it can be tricky to work out exactly what’s available, where to find it and whether you’re eligible.

Luckily, we’ve done some of the legwork for you, compiling links to postgraduate funding opportunities at UK universities into the table below. This is an excellent place to start when you begin to look for scholarships, bursaries and other forms of university funding.


Masters Funding from UK Universities
University of Aberdeen Masters funding information
University of Abertay Dundee Masters funding information
Aberystwyth University Masters funding information
AECC University College Masters funding information
Anglia Ruskin University Masters funding information
Aston University Masters funding information
Bangor University Masters funding information
Bath Spa University Masters funding information
University of Bath Masters funding information
University of Bedfordshire Masters funding information
Queen's University Belfast Masters funding information
Birkbeck College Masters funding information
Birmingham City University Masters funding information
University of Birmingham Masters funding information
University College Birmingham Masters funding information
Bishop Grosseteste University Masters funding information
University of Bolton Masters funding information
Arts University Bournemouth Masters funding information
Bournemouth University Masters funding information
University of Bradford Masters funding information
University of Brighton Masters funding information
University of Bristol Masters funding information
Brunel University London Masters funding information
Buckinghamshire New University Masters funding information
University of Buckingham Masters funding information
University of Cambridge Masters funding information
Canterbury Christ Church University Masters funding information
Cardiff University Masters funding information
Cardiff Metropolitan University Masters funding information
University of Central Lancashire Masters funding information
University of Chester Masters funding information
University of Chichester Masters funding information
City, University of London Masters funding information
Conservatoire for Dance and Drama Masters funding information
Courtauld Institute of Art Masters funding information
Coventry University Masters funding information
Cranfield University Masters funding information
University for the Creative Arts Masters funding information
University of Cumbria Masters funding information
De Montfort University Masters funding information
University of Derby Masters funding information
University of Dundee Masters funding information
University of Durham Masters funding information
University of East Anglia Masters funding information
University of East London Masters funding information
Edge Hill University Masters funding information
Edinburgh Napier University Masters funding information
University of Edinburgh Masters funding information
University of Essex Masters funding information
University of Exeter Masters funding information
Falmouth University Masters funding information
National Film and Television School Masters funding information
Glasgow Caledonian University Masters funding information
Glasgow School of Art Masters funding information
The University of Glasgow Masters funding information
University of Gloucestershire Masters funding information
Glyndŵr University Masters funding information
Goldsmiths College Masters funding information
University of Greenwich Masters funding information
Guildhall School of Music and Drama Masters funding information
Harper Adams University Masters funding information
Heriot-Watt University Masters funding information
University of Hertfordshire Masters funding information
University of Huddersfield Masters funding information
University of Hull Masters funding information
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Masters funding information
Keele University Masters funding information
University of Kent Masters funding information
King's College London Masters funding information
Kingston University Masters funding information
University of Lancaster Masters funding information
Leeds Arts University Masters funding information
Leeds Beckett University Masters funding information
University of Leeds Masters funding information
Leeds Trinity University Masters funding information
University of Leicester Masters funding information
University of Lincoln Masters funding information
Liverpool Hope University Masters funding information
Liverpool John Moores University Masters funding information
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Masters funding information
University of Liverpool Masters funding information
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine Masters funding information
University of the Arts, London Masters funding information
London Business School Masters funding information
London Metropolitan University Masters funding information
London South Bank University Masters funding information
London School of Economics and Political Science Masters funding information
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Masters funding information
Loughborough University Masters funding information
Manchester Metropolitan University Masters funding information
University of Manchester Masters funding information
Middlesex University Masters funding information
Newcastle University Masters funding information
Newman University Masters funding information
University of Northampton Masters funding information
University of Northumbria at Newcastle Masters funding information
Norwich University of the Arts Masters funding information
University of Nottingham Masters funding information
Nottingham Trent University Masters funding information
Open University Masters funding information
Oxford Brookes University Masters funding information
University of Oxford Masters funding information
Plymouth College of Art Masters funding information
University of Plymouth Masters funding information
University of Portsmouth Masters funding information
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Masters funding information
Queen Mary University of London Masters funding information
Ravensbourne University London Masters funding information
University of Reading Masters funding information
Robert Gordon University Masters funding information
Roehampton University Masters funding information
Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance Masters funding information
Royal Academy of Music Masters funding information
Royal Agricultural University Masters funding information
Royal College of Art Masters funding information
Royal College of Music Masters funding information
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Masters funding information
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama Masters funding information
Royal Holloway and Bedford New College Masters funding information
Royal Northern College of Music Masters funding information
Royal Veterinary College Masters funding information
University of St Andrews Masters funding information
St George's, University of London Masters funding information
St Mary's University, Twickenham Masters funding information
University of Salford Masters funding information
SOAS University of London Masters funding information
SRUC Masters funding information
Sheffield Hallam University Masters funding information
University of Sheffield Masters funding information
Solent University Masters funding information
University of Southampton Masters funding information
Staffordshire University Masters funding information
University of Stirling Masters funding information
University of St Mark and St John Masters funding information
Stranmillis University College Masters funding information
University of Strathclyde Masters funding information
University of Suffolk Masters funding information
University of Sunderland Masters funding information
University of Surrey Masters funding information
University of Sussex Masters funding information
Swansea University Masters funding information
Teesside University Masters funding information
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Masters funding information
University of Wales Trinity Saint David Masters funding information
University of the Highlands and Islands Masters funding information
Ulster University Masters funding information
University College London Masters funding information
University College of Osteopathy Masters funding information
University of South Wales Masters funding information
University of Warwick Masters funding information
University of the West of England, Bristol Masters funding information
University of the West of Scotland Masters funding information
University of West London Masters funding information
University of Westminster Masters funding information
University of Winchester Masters funding information
University of Wolverhampton Masters funding information
University of Worcester Masters funding information
Writtle University College Masters funding information
York St John University Masters funding information
University of York Masters funding information

We’ve done our best to make sure that this table is as up-to-date as possible, but if you notice anything that isn’t working please let us know at editor[at]findamasters[dot]com.

Applying for university funding

The application process will depend on the kind of funding you’re applying for (in fact, for some bursaries and discounts you won’t have to do anything apart from apply for the Masters itself, as the university will automatically consider you for any funding you’re eligible for).

As a rule of thumb, you should bear the following factors in mind when applying for a postgraduate scholarship or bursary:

  • Eligibility – Make sure that you (and your course) is eligible for the award
  • Motivation – You’ll usually have to explain why you’re applying for this particular Masters programme, giving compelling reasons as to how the scholarship or bursary would support you
  • Research proposal – You might need to give an outline of what you want to do for your dissertation or research project, as well as detailing how the funding would help you carry this out
  • Ambitions – Suggest how the Masters will benefit you and your career plans

And, it goes without saying, but you should also keep a close eye on upcoming deadlines – especially if the funding application is a potentially time-consuming one.

Interested in other forms of postgraduate funding?

If you’re looking for other ways to fund your Masters, we have dedicated guides to everything from postgraduate loans and charities to postgraduate funding for international students.

Last updated - 10/04/2019

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