Postgraduate scholarships

What is a postgraduate scholarship?

Scholarships are funding that is offered to students on behalf of certain individuals, companies, institutions and organisations. Scholarships vary in amounts, with more expensive ‘full-ride’ scholarships being the most competitive. There are very few scholarships that offer up the full cost of tuition

In general there does tend to be more funding and scholarships aimed towards research students than taught masters students, but that does not mean that it is impossible to get funding as a taught masters student.

A key difference between scholarships on offer for masters and PhD students is the prerequisite requirements. Many PhD scholarships and funding sources require that the PhD student have studied a research accredited masters program first. This can put students who are trying to progress from a taught masters onto a PhD at a slight disadvantage. Although some scholarships are open to all, many are limited to students from certain backgrounds, studying certain subjects or with certain career aspirations, so let's take a look at what schoalrships you could consider.

Chevening UK Government Scholarships 

Chevening Scholarships are the UK government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. Available in over 160 countries and territories, the scholarships are awarded to outstanding future leaders to pursue one-year Master’s degrees in any subject and at any UK university. Chevening Scholars have ambition and leadership potential, a strong academic background, and an excellent record of rising to prominent positions in their countries.

Find out more about Chevening Scholarships and how to apply for them.

Scholarships by country 

Certain governments, individuals and organisations offer scholarships specifically for students from their country applying to universities in the UK or generally worldwide. Whether you’re from Guernsey or Ghana or anywhere else in between, check out if there are any bursaries from your government or benevolent organisations offering scholarships specifically to students from your country. Two well known examples of this are Fulbright scholarships (for US students coming to study in the UK) and Rhodes Scholarships (for students from certain countries wanting to study at Oxford).

Scholarships by ethnic group 

Many organisations are trying to widen participation in postgraduate education by offering scholarships to students from specific ethnic backgrounds. If you think you may be eligible for any scholarships based on this criteria, then check out your options.

Scholarships by profession

Many professional organisations offer scholarships either to students who have previously worked for them or who intend to work for them, or at least are studying in a related field. For example, if you’re looking to do a postgraduate program in law, it is worth contacting law firms and solicitors to see if they are offering scholarships or bursaries.

Common scholarships

A common route for many students is to apply for funding and scholarships from one of the seven United Kingdom research councils. Funding and applications are usually handled by universities and not by direct application, although checking with your applicable research council is advisable. And please note that as implied by the name, research council funding is usually limited to research students.

The seven UK research councils are:

•    Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
•    Medical Research Council (MRC)
•    Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
•    Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
•    Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
•    Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
•    Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

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