When planning your budget for a masters degree, there are 2 aspects of costs that you need to consider:
Once you are aware of the cost of the masters, including how much you will need to support yourself while studying, you can prepare your budget and make plans for financing. It is also possible that your budget will influence your choice of course and/or the way in which you study.
The most obvious cost involved in pursuing a masters degree is the tuition fees. These have increased in the UK in recent years, and currently the average cost is £6,848. However, the cost of fees varies between universities and subjects so it’s best to research your individual choices to get a more accurate idea. International students are also likely to pay much more than their UK counterparts.
How and when will I pay my fees?
Most universities offer installment plans which can help manage payments. A full-time masters degree is generally completed in 12 months and involves a substantial time commitment, during which you are likely to spend a minimum of 40 hours per week on your studies. This makes maintaining a job difficult and in some cases, part time or distance learning is a preferred option. Although the overall cost is not generally cheaper for part-time study or distance learning, payments are usually more spread out and it is easier to continue working.
Masters degrees can also be taught or by research. If you are considering a research masters, there may be a possibility of funding. The best thing to do in this situation would be to find a university which focuses on your chosen area of study, or better yet, someone working in the area and contact them directly enquiring about opportunities.
The second aspect to consider is living costs while completing your studies. The average cost of living in the UK is estimated at £12,200 per year. When you add this to the cost of fees, the cost of a masters degree can seem quite daunting. It’s worth noting that this figure is an average and that some places, eg London, are significantly more expensive than others.
As previously mentioned, looking into options to study part time or by distance learning can free up your time to work and lessen financial stresses. Other factors to consider include whether you could study a course close to home or if you will need to commute. Don’t forget that you may also be entitled to student travel discounts.
A number of options exist in terms of financing your masters program, other than using savings or working which can be difficult and stressful.
A range of scholarships and bursaries exist specifically for masters students. Postgraduate scholarships are generally based on academic achievements whereas bursaries are based on individual requirements of the given bursary. It is best to research funding available at your chosen university and also in your chosen subject.
Government-backed masters loans may also be an option for funding fees and/or living costs. These are not repaid until your income exceeds £21,000, and it is either the first April after completing the course or four years after the course started.
Another great funding option for postgraduate students is provided by private loans company Prodigy Finance. Prodigy Finance offers tailor-made loans specifically for postgraduate students by assessing the students' future earning potential based on past achievements to determine individual loan affordability. Find out more here.
Get value for money
One final point to consider when deciding to study a masters degree is that this is an investment in your future. Although cost is obviously a major factor in choosing a masters and may pose a significant barrier, it’s important to think carefully about what you want out of the masters program and consider the best choice for you. Consider what topics you are interested in and if the university is involved in research areas that you would like to work in. Ultimately, your money will be best spent if you have chosen the most valuable masters for your desired future.
Please note that the information here does not constitute financial advice. Prodigy Finance is one of many potential funding options for international postgraduate students. Other student funding options are available and Postgrad.com advises you to research all your options thoroughly before making such a commitment. Postgrad.com accepts no responsibility for your choice of loan and does not endorse or support Prodigy Finance. Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and entered on the Financial Services Register under firm registration number 612713.