Funding for Master's study can be limited, so most students piece together different funding sources to cover their costs. Find out about the available options below.
This guidance is for students studying for an MA, MSc or MRes at UCL and is includes:
- how much does a Master's cost?
- government loans
- professional career development loans
- charities and trusts
- funds for students with disabilities
- current Master's students
When calculating the cost of a Master's there are two elements to consider - tuition fees and living costs.
Tuition fees vary from programme to programme. Below are the full-time tuition fees for the 2019/20 academic year - they do not include fees set by other providers. Part-time or modular fees are normally charged pro-rata. You can find the fees for individual programmes on the online graduate prospectus.
|UK/EU students||Overseas students|
|Master's programmes||£8,400 - £29,220||£15,220 - £46,610|
|MRes programmes||£5,210 - £15,220||£20,170 - £28,410|
The amount spent on living costs will vary greatly from student to student and depend on lifestyle and individual circumstances.
For a single, graduate student studying for a full year, an estimated average would be in the region of £386 per week or £20,070 for the year. This should be considered only as a guide; some students may find they can live within this allowance, yet others may find it insufficient to meet their expectations.
For an individual and accurate picture of living costs, you can make your own budget.
Some governments offer loans for students pursuing postgraduate study. Check with your home government to see what funding they may offer.
Postgraduate Master's Loan from Student Finance
Some Home and EU students may be eligible for a Postgraduate Master's Loan (PGL) from Student Finance. If your course started in the 2017/18 academic year you could get up to £10,280. If you course started in the 2018/19 academic year you could get up to £10,609. If your course is starting in the 2019/20 academic year you could get up to £10,906.
Your funding will be paid directly into your account, in termly instalments, by Student Finance England once UCL has confirmed that you are fully enrolled.
Whether you are eligible for a loan depends on:
- your course
- your age
- where you normally live
- if you’ve studied on a postgraduate course before
Please note that you must be doing a full standalone Master's of 180 credits to be eligible for the loan. You will not be eligible for the loan if you are studying on a modular/flexible mode of attendance, or are using credits from previous study towards your Master's under UCL's Accreditation of Prior Learning scheme.
The Student Room's SFE Student Finance Zone is a valuable resource of information on SFE's loans and grants. It also includes a forum where students can have questions answered by Student Finance experts.
Paying your fees with your PGL
A Postgraduate Loan is neither a tuition fee loan nor a maintenance loan – unlike undergraduate loans it is paid directly to you to use in any way you choose.
How your PGL might affect your benefits
If you receive means-tested benefits, 30% of the maximum PGL is treated by the Department for Work and Pensions as being for living costs and hence will be considered income when assessing any benefit award. For benefit purposes, you will be treated as having this amount, regardless of whether you actually take up the loan.
You’ll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment until your loan is repaid in full or cancelled. The interest rate on the loan is RPI + 3%.
The earliest you’ll start repaying your PGL is April 2019. You’ll only start repaying when your income is over £21,000 per year. You’ll repay 6% of your income over £21,000.
If you have undergraduate loans from Student Finance you will repay them at the same time as your PGL if you are in employment and earning over the threshold.
The government has been looking in to the possibility of an alternative Sharia-compliant funding system which would be available alongside traditional student loans. However at present this system is not yet in place.
UCL participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loans). This is the main U.S. Federal funding available to American students in the UK.
The processing of loans at schools outside the US is different to that when applying to a school inside the US. Students applying to Direct Loans for study at UCL should follow the instructions carefully as we will not be able to administer your loan unless you submit that application to the Student Funding Office as outlined in the guidance.
Students from Canada may be able to apply for Canada Student Loans and provincial or territorial student assistance.
A Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL) is a bank loan designed to help you pay for work-related learning. You don't have to start paying your loan back until one month after you stop training.
A PCDL can help to pay for up to two years of learning or up to three years if the course includes one year's relevant practical work experience. If your course lasts longer than this, you may still be able to use a PCDL to pay for part of it. This loan is only available to British citizens who have been living in the UK for at least 3 years before their course starts.
* Please note, Professional Career Development Loans will close to new borrowers in 2019. The final date for students to submit applications, including top ups to existing loans, will be Friday 25 January 2019.
UCL and some external organisations provide scholarships to Master's students.
There are a number of scholarships available to postgraduate students. You can use the scholarships finder to search for awards that you might be eligible for. Your academic department will also be able to provide you with more information about funding.
Online aggregators like Postgraduate Studentships, Scholarship Search, Postgraduate Funding and International Financial Aid and College Scholarship Search contain information on a variety of external schemes.
If you have specific circumstances or ethnic or religious background it is worth searching for scholarships/bursaries/grants that relate to those things. Some schemes are very specific.
Some charitible organisations provide small amounts of money to students with particular backgrounds or studying particular subject areas.
Turn2Us Grants Search database contains information on over 3,000 charitable funds offering welfare and educational grants, as well as other support and services.
The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding Online is a portal for alternative sources of funding - especially charities - which can make awards (fees, maintenance, research costs) to any student regardless of subject, or nationality. UCL has purchased a licence to the Guide so it’s free for all students and staff to use. If you are a prospective student who has applied to the university email student funding to get an access the PIN.
The following directories (found at the university Careers Service, local library or council) contain information on grants that are available for students:
- Charities Digest
- The Directory of Grant-Making Trusts (Directory of Social Change)
- The Grants Register: the Complete Guide to Postgraduate Funding Worldwide (Palgrave Macmillan Ltd)
- The Educations Grants Directory (Directory of Social Change)
Master's students who have a disability may be able to get extra funding for additional costs they incur to study.
Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
Home students can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability.
You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance. You won’t need to repay DSAs.
UCL Student Support and Wellbeing provide information around DSAs and other support available for disabled students at UCL.
Disabled students who are not awarded a Disabled Students’ Allowance may be eligible for a Student Health Association Bursary.
UCL fund for disabled international students
UCL recognises that disabled students may have to incur additional costs in order to pursue their studies. Because of this, the UCL Fund for Disabled International Students has been established.
To be eligible, you must:
- be enrolled at UCL
- be able to show that you have a disability, long-term health condition, mental health difficulty or specific learning difficulty (e.g. dyslexia) that affects your study such that you will incur extra costs
As a student, it is unlikely you will be able to claim benefits unless you have a disability or have children.
The charity Turn2Us have guides on what benefits students may be eligible for.
If you are experiencing problems with your benefits, contact the Student's Union UCL Advice Service.
There are a number of sources of financial support for Master's students who are currently enrolled at UCL.
The Financial Assistance Fund
The Financial Assistance Fund is a fund for UCL students who fall into unexpected financial hardship.
Limited cash loans of up to £250 are available to students who have experienced a delay in their normal funding being paid.
External grants and funding
Some charities and organisations give financial support to current students studying particular subjects or in particular circumstances.
The charity Churches Together in Britain and Ireland who have a hardship fund for international students from developing countries who are facing financial hardship in the final stages of their course.
Reduce costs and increase income
If you are struggling to cover the costs of study, you can look at ways to reduce your costs and increase your income.
As a postgraduate student you have the opportunity to become a Student Residence Adviser and eliminate your accommodation costs completely by living in UCL halls. In exchange, you work in a team supporting the undergraduates who live in halls, dealing with pastoral and disciplinary issues.
Student Residence Adviser positions are advertised on the UCL Jobs site in February for the coming academic year.