So, you’ve finished your undergraduate degree and want to go on to study a master’s. One of the first and perhaps most daunting steps is understanding the financial costs associated. Student finance works slightly differently when it comes to postgraduate degrees but, fortunately, there are several funding options to support your further study. To help you understanding the fees and plan for the next stage in your studies, we have compiled the main points you need to consider about the cost of a master’s degree in the UK.
By Elena Carruthers. Published 17 May 2023.
Benefits of a master’s degree:
Many graduates opt to continue with further study to help with achieving professional goals, or simply to further engage with a subject they are passionate about. There are many benefits to studying a master’s, whether it is chosen primarily from a personal or professional point of view.
For some, pursuing a master’s degree is necessary for the transition into their future career path, such as law graduates undertaking the LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) before qualifying as a solicitor. However, for others, the decision to pursue a master’s isn’t as clear-cut.
Even for those who are still unsure of their future career path, having a master’s degree provides a competitive edge in the job market. This is because there are many transferable skills obtained through a master’s degree including initiative, the ability to meet deadlines, strong time-management skills and many more.
What is the average cost of a master’s degree?
The average cost of a master’s degree in the UK is somewhere between £10,000-15,000 with most courses lasting one year. However, the costs associated with different master’s degrees vary.
The reason the prices of master’s degrees vary is because they are determined by the university and are not subject to a limit, unlike undergraduate degrees which are capped at £9,250 a year.
Typically, the cost is dependent on the resources needed to run the course. This means that courses such as science and technology will usually be more costly than arts and social sciences due to the facilities required.
Paying for a master’s degree
There is government funding available to help meet some of the costs of postgraduate study, but the amount and type of support on offer depends upon where you live in the UK.
For example, for students who live in England there is the Postgraduate Master’s Loan, a government-funded loan for students which goes up to £11,836 for courses starting after 1 August 2022, and £12,167 for courses starting after 1 August 2023.
The government promotes the Postgraduate Master’s Loan as a contribution towards your fees and living expenses and will unlikely cover both. To be eligible for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan from Student Finance England (SFE), you must be a UK resident and not already have a master’s qualification. It is also paid directly to the student, so you’ll be responsible for paying your tuition fees to the university and will need to manage your finances accordingly.
For postgraduate funding for UK nations other than England, visit:
- Wales: studentfinancewales.co.uk/postgraduate-finance
- Northern Ireland: studentfinanceni.co.uk/types-of-finance/postgraduate
- Scotland: saas.gov.uk/full-time/postgraduate-funding-information
It is important to note that the cost of a master’s may be more for international students. If you need to explore further postgraduate funding options for financial help towards your fees and living costs you can take a look at our postgraduate course fees and funding hub.
The University of Law also offers a range of postgraduate scholarships and bursaries available to both UK nationals and international students to help with funding a master’s degree.
As well as considering tuition fees, it’s important to consider other living costs. This depends on if you will be studying on campus or online. If based on campus, living costs will largely depend on the area you are based in. The good news is that most students who have already completed an undergraduate degree are no stranger to the art of budgeting.
Many students choose to take on a part-time job to assist with living costs on top of a master’s degree if they feel they have the time and capacity to do so. This has the added bonus of further boosting employability prospects by providing valuable real-world experience whilst studying.
You may also want to consider part-time study, as this option is also eligible for funding. You’ll have more opportunity to work alongside your studies; and if you are on a low income you may be entitled to claim means-tested welfare benefits such as Universal Credit whilst you study (most full-time students, including students on full-time online courses, cannot claim welfare benefits).
Is a master’s degree worth the cost?
Studying a master’s degree of course comes with the obvious commitment of further tuition fees and student loan repayments. The fees associated with a master’s might be better seen as an investment in your future. Studying an MA or MSc is a solid way to boost future career prospects and earning potential, with the 2020 Graduate Labour market statistics finding that postgraduates have higher starting salaries, an average of £7,000 higher than their graduate counterparts.
While the cost of a master’s degree seems scary, you won’t need to pay it back until you are earning enough.
Postgraduate courses with us
For our Business School graduates, there is the option to do a free Business master’s on completion of your undergraduate course. All Business School students are eligible to apply for their chosen MSc business course and can then enjoy postgraduate study without the tuition fees.* Learn more here.
*please note that this offer is only valid for students starting a UG Business course this September 2023.