Is it possible to do a free masters degree in the UK?
If you’re considering doing a master’s degree and extending your education further after your undergrad, you might be put off because of the cost.
If you apply for a master’s degree in the UK, you can apply for a postgraduate loan to help you out, but it might not fully cover the costs.
You also might not want to take out a second student loan, as you will already have your undergraduate student loan to pay back. While the postgraduate loan works in the same way (paid in instalments by the government), it’s a second loan that you’ll need to pay off once you’re earning over a certain threshold.
If you don’t want to take out a second student loan to do your master’s, there are other options to help you further your education and do your master’s degree for either free or low cost! What you pay is determined by factors like the duration of the course and its perceived quality. A doctorate costs more than a master’s, a MBA more than a PhD.
“Tuition fees range from around £4,900 a year to over £30,000, with the average around £11,000 per year.
Fees are normally higher for international students,” according to the admissions service UCAS.
What is a master’s degree?
A master’s degree is a degree programme that you can choose to take after you’ve completed your 3 or 4 year undergraduate degree. A master’s doesn’t have to be in the exact same subject or discipline as your undergraduate degree, but you will need to be in the same or similar field. For example, you may have done an English Literature undergraduate degree, and then choose to do a Master’s in Creative Writing or Gender Studies.
Master’s degrees are normally just one year long, and take place after you’ve graduated from your undergraduate degree. Once you’re a master’s student you might also be known as a postgraduate student, as you are undertaking further study.
You don’t have to do a master’s degree at the same uni you went to for your undergraduate degree either, many people do choose to stay at the same place if they love their uni but as you would’ve already graduated you can apply to completely different unis too.
Master’s degrees are normally in more specialised and specific subjects and they’re really good if you want to further your knowledge or get into a really specific job. Some careers might require a master’s degree, but a lot of people choose to do a master’s just because they enjoy education and want to carry on. If you want to do a PhD, you will need to have completed your undergraduate degree and your master’s degree before you can apply to do a PhD.
How to do a free master’s degree in the UK
There are a few ways to get a free master’s degree in the UK. Master’s degrees can vary in costs, but like an undergraduate degree, there will be tuition fees that will need to be paid and this puts a lot of people off from applying.
The postgraduate loan is different to the undergraduate loan, as you can only borrow up to £12,167 to fund your master’s degree. This money will be paid directly to you in equal instalments throughout the year, and is for both your tuition fees and the costs of living associated with being in uni.
While as an undergraduate you’ll get two loans, a tuition fees loan and a maintenance loan to cover your living costs, the postgraduate student loan needs to cover both your tuition fees and rent and bills.
The £12,167 loan might not fully cover your tuition fees, which could mean that paying for a master’s might not be achievable, but here’s how you can get your master’s for free.
Free online master’s degrees in 2023
You can do a free online masters on websites that offer free courses and further qualifications.
Websites like Coursera, edX and Future Learn offer tonnes of courses you can enrol on to elevate your studies to master’s level without having to take out a huge loan to do it. Free online courses can also mean you can learn in your own time and at your own pace.
Scholarships for free master’s degree UK
If you have decided you want to do a cheap master’s degree in the UK but you don’t want to apply for a student loan that you’ll eventually have to pay back or self-fund, there are a number of scholarships and grants available, which you won’t need to pay back.
Many unis will offer a discount on tuition if you choose to stay at the same uni to do your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Scholarships are often rare and only offered to a few candidates, but there are loads that you can apply for that will help to cover the costs of funding either fully or partially.
Scholarships are often awarded based on your income status, to help those from lower income backgrounds obtain an education or they could be based on your skills and if you’re performing at an exceptional level.
Some free scholarship examples include:
Inspiring Success Scholarship- Loughborough University
This scholarship will cover 100% of your tuition fees to do a master’s if you got GCSE or A-Level qualifications from Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham or Waltham Forest.
John Crook Scholarship- St John’s College, Cambridge University
If you are the first in your family to go to uni and have an exceptional academic record, you could be eligible for full funding to study at Cambridge in a maths of science discipline.
Many people choose to study a master’s degree on the side of having a job, and if this is the case your employer might be able to support your studies. If the master’s is relevant to your job and could elevate your skills and career progression, your employer might be willing to fund it to help you cover the costs and not have to take out a student loan.
You can find master’s scholarships and funding here.
How to do a free master’s degree in Europe
If you just don’t want to study in the UK, doing a master’s degree is a great way to travel after you’ve graduated and further your studies at the same time,
Unfortunately, since Brexit things have got a bit complicated for UK students. No longer being in the EU means UK students are now considered international students on the same level as American or Asian students would be, and are no longer eligible for EU student privileges, which often allows completely free study in a lot of EU countries.
However, there are still a lot of countries where you can either study a master’s degree for free abroad or at a much cheaper cost than in the UK.
In Germany, international study is free, which includes a master’s degree.
In Norway, international study is free so there are no fees for getting a master’s degree.
In Austria, international study is around €1,500 per year (£1,242).
In Hungary, international study is around €1,500 per year (£1,242).
In Greece, international study is around €1,500 per year (£1,242).
For more info about studying abroad, check out the places where you can study for free (or very cheap) here.
If you’re considering doing a master’s degree, it’s a big decision but it can be really beneficial to your studies and fun to further your education.
Shop amazing savings and discounts with Student Beans.
If you’re not fortunate enough to live in a country where education is cheaper (or even free), why not console yourself by whipping up some dreamy European cuisines, like our super simple chicken gyros recipe?