Erasmus Masters Funding – An Introduction
Written by Mark Bennett
If you’re looking for funding to study a Masters abroad, you could receive financial support from the Erasmus programme. Since 1987 Erasmus has been Europe's flagship funding initiative for international academic collaboration, exchange and study mobility.
It funds short international placements, offers scholarships for special Joint Masters Degrees and provides Erasmus Loans for students to study a Masters in another European country.
Unfortunately, the UK left Erasmus at the end of 2020, but the UK government has replaced it with a new international exchange programme called the Turing Scheme. It's also worth bearing in mind that UK students are still eligible for Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters scholarships.
Erasmus funding is organised into phases, with specific budgets, objectives and initiatives. Erasmus+ is the name for the most recent phase, running from 2021 to 2027.
Many existing activities have been 'inherited' by Erasmus+. These include the Joint Masters Degrees previously offered under the Erasmus Mundus programme. There is also a system of Erasmus+ Masters Loans.
The current phase of Erasmus+ builds on the principles of the current programme and nearly doubles its budget.
Erasmus+ Funding – Key Details
|Erasmus Mundus scholarships
||Up to €42,000 each
|Erasmus Masters loans
||Up to €18,000 each
There are two groups of countries involved in Erasmus funding and exchanges. Programme Countries include EU members, EU candidates and EEA members. Partner Countries include other non-EU nations.
The participation of the two groups in different Erasmus+ Masters funding activities varies:
- Programme Countries take part in the full Erasmus programme. Their universities can host Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degrees. Their banks may also offer Erasmus Masters Loans.
- Partner Countries take part in some parts of the Erasmus programme. Their universities can support Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degrees, but not host them. Their banks cannot offer Erasmus Masters Loans.
The Turing Scheme
In December 2020, the UK government decided that it wouldn’t renew its membership of Erasmus+ for the following funding phase, running from 2021 to 2027 (any programmes that took place under the previous 2014 to 2020 phase will receive funding until their conclusion). This means that, unfortunately, UK nationals will no longer be eligible for new Erasmus opportunities.
The UK’s ‘replacement’ for Erasmus+ is the Turing Scheme, aimed to help British students take part in exchanges at universities around the world. The Turing Scheme has a £100 million budget to fund around 35,000 students to study abroad.
Please sign up to our newsletter to find out more about the Turing Scheme when the government makes further announcements, or check out our blog on the Turing Scheme.
Erasmus Masters loans
Erasmus Masters loans of up to €18,000 are available to students from Programme Countries to study a postgraduate programme in eligible nations.
Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degrees
Erasmus+ Joint Masters Degrees are run by consortia of universities in different countries.
Each participating institution contributes some of its expertise or facilities to the programme. Some will host you as an international student and deliver parts of your course. Others will send scholars to help teach and train you or give you access to unique academic resources.
As a result, you’ll be at the centre of an international circle of international expertise in your subject area, receiving a unique postgraduate experience that quite simply isn’t available anywhere else. And you might not even have to pay for it.
Unlike other study abroad opportunities, a Joint Masters isn’t based in any one specific country. The clue’s in the name, after all. Instead, you’ll spend time in at least two different countries - possibly more.
Most of your degree will probably be based in Europe as this is where the Erasmus Programme Countries that lead Joint Degrees are based. You may also spend time further afield however – particularly if non-European Partner Countries contribute to your programme.
How are Erasmus+ Joint Masters Degrees organised?
Each Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree consortium consists of at least three higher education institutions. These will be located in different Erasmus Programme Countries. One will function as the coordinating institution. The others will contribute to hosting students and awarding credits towards their Masters.
A consortium can also include institutions from other Erasmus ’Partner Countries’. These contribute expertise and resources. They do not coordinate programmes and will not necessarily host students. You can read about the difference between Programme Countries and Partner Countries in our Erasmus introduction.
Other participants can include external organisations such as businesses, research institutes or public bodies.
How will I study?
EMJMDs usually last for two years. During this time you will be based within higher education institutions in at least two of the countries involved in your programme, with the option of also spending time at other participating institutions.
Institutions that don’t host you will still play an important role in your programme. Scholars and experts will also travel between participating institutions to ensure that you receive the full benefit of the international resources and expertise underpinning your course.
Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree scholarships
Each approved Joint Degree programme is allocated enough money for a set of Masters scholarships.
The amount you can apply for depends on your nationality and the expenses involved in travelling to and from different host institutions.
Erasmus Mundus funding can include:
- A tuition fee scholarship of up to €4,500 per year (for students from Programme Countries) or €9,000 per year (for students from Partner Countries). In both cases these are essentially full scholarships. Any remaining fees are to be covered by institutions.
- A maintenance allowance of up to €1,000 per month, for up to 24 months. This is designed to support periods of study mobility and will not usually be paid when a student is based in their country of origin.
- A travel grant of up to €3,000 per year, depending in a student’s home location and the costs they incur as part of their programme
- A contribution to installation costs of up to €1,000. This is only available to students from Partner Countries, to help cover the initial cost of relocating for study.
Each programme will normally have around 20 awards available per year. Some of these are reserved for applicants from Partner Countries.
Who is eligible for Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree funding?
Students from all countries are eligible to enrol on EMJMD programmes and receive funding. However, some scholarships may be reserved for students from Partner Countries – see above.
Additional eligibility criteria are as follows:
- You should be studying full-time. Joint Masters Degrees are not usually designed to be completed on a part-time basis.
- You will need to hold an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject area. The collaborative and potentially interdisciplinary nature of EMJMDs means that criteria for determining relevant disciplines may be quite broad. Your prospective programme should be able to clarify its requirements. Appropriate professional or vocational experience may be accepted in place of an undergraduate degree.
- You must not receive other EU funding. This includes other grants offered by the Erasmus programme.
- You must not have received a previous scholarship for an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree (or Erasmus Mundus Masters Course).
Are UK students eligible for Erasmus Mundus scholarships?
Yes, UK students can still apply for Erasmus Mundus scholarships post-Brexit – these scholarships are available to all nationalities. However, as the UK is no longer an Erasmus programme country the terms of a full scholarship will be slightly different (but will cover your tuition fees).
If you’re accepted onto an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters programme but don’t receive a scholarship, you will pay tuition fees at the higher rate of €9,000 per year.
How do you apply for an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree?
Applications for EMJMD programmes are similar to those for other Masters degrees. The Erasmus+ website maintains an EMJMD catalogue. You should use this to find a course that interests you. You can then apply directly to the consortium responsible.
You can view specific entry requirements, application process and any other eligibility criteria.
Applications will normally be considered for scholarships as a standard part of the process. If you are not eligible for funding but wish to apply anyway you may need to make this clear.
You can apply to more than one EMJMD programme, up to a maximum of three simultaneous applications.
Erasmus+ Mobility Grants for Masters students
Unlike Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree scholarships or Masters Degree Loans, grants for mobility support don’t fund students to complete full degree programmes.
Instead, they provide support for shorter periods of study or training in another country. You can earn credits towards an existing course of study during these placements, but they don’t award a specific qualification themselves.
An Erasmus+ Mobility placement can be a great option if you are already enrolled on a Masters in your current country of residence, but want to access specialist training, facilities or other opportunities in another country.
You can receive funding to study at a foreign institution for a short period (such as a single semester) or to undertake an international training placement.
Erasmus+ study placements last for between 3 and 12 months and must take place within recognised higher education institutions.
Your current university will usually have an existing inter-institutional agreement with these. Study placements can take place in any Erasmus Programme Country or Partner Country.
Erasmus+ traineeships last for between 2 and 12 months. They must take place within appropriate organisations offering professional training and expertise related to your field of study. You can be based in any Erasmus Programme Country.
Combining multiple mobility periods
You are allowed to complete multiple mobility placements, provided you have approval from your home institution to do so as part of your degree programme.
The only restriction on combining multiple placements concerns the total amount of time you spend studying or training abroad.
Combinations of study and / or training placements cannot exceed a total of 12 months during any one degree programme. This restriction will usually apply regardless of the length of your degree; even if your Masters lasts for two years, you cannot spend more than 12 months of it on Erasmus+ mobility placements.
Where can you study on an Erasmus Masters placement?
The Erasmus+ programme supports postgraduate student mobility in all of its participating countries.
However, some forms of Mobility Grant are limited to Programme Countries rather than Partner Countries.
Individual institutions must also agree to participate in exchanges as a recognised component of their degree courses.
In most cases your current university (referred to as your ’sending institution’) will need to have an ’inter-institutional agreement’ in place with partner institutions or organisations.
This will formalise the exchange of students between the two institutions and allow for you to continue to earn credits towards your Masters degree whilst studying abroad (if appropriate).
You cannot normally receive an Erasmus+ Mobility Grant to study elsewhere in your current country of residence (even if this is different to your country of origin).
Who can apply for an Erasmus+ Mobility Grant as a Masters student?
Mobility Grants are more varied than Erasmus+ Masters Loans or Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degrees. You can apply in a range of circumstances and this will determine specific availability and eligibility criteria.
Remember that, unlike most other Masters funding, you’ll normally apply for a Mobility Grant after you have started your course.
Eligibility criteria for Erasmus+ Mobility Grants are fairly simple. You will need to already be studying towards a full degree qualification (such as a Masters). You will also need to be enrolled at a recognised higher education institution.
This institution itself will need to be located within a participating Erasmus+ country. It will also need to have exchange partnerships established with other institutions.
You should apply for Erasmus+ mobility funding at your current university.
In most cases its international office will arrange Erasmus partnerships and handle the selection of candidates. Selection criteria will depend on the institutions in question, but will usually take into account academic performance and suitability.
You may be asked to provide a statement describing the importance of the placement to your degree programme.
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