FAQs about postgraduate study

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about postgraduate study, including when to apply, how it can help you, and funding.
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  • Will taking a postgraduate qualification help my career?

    That depends upon your intended career path.

    • You can’t practice as a vet, doctor, or in most teaching, social and healthcare roles without a relevant postgraduate vocational qualification.
    • Some research-based careers require you to have taken a research intensive postgraduate course.
    • In other cases, a postgraduate course may be seen as an example of your commitment to a specialism, or as a way of accelerating your move to professional accreditation – e.g., as a chartered engineer.

    But in all cases, you need the personal abilities and commitment for the job as well as an actual qualification.

  • I’m completing my undergraduate studies. How different will it be if I study at postgraduate level?

    Postgraduate courses are usually shorter than undergraduate degrees – many take around a year to complete. They are more specialist and you’ll have to work even harder and do more research.

  • Can I study part-time at postgraduate level, or by distance learning?

    There are part-time postgraduate courses – many qualifications have that option so you can study and not have to give up your work.

    Part-time course fees are less expensive for each single year of study, but may be more expensive overall as the course lasts longer.

    Studying by distance learning is another option and can be cheaper.

    Please see our advice on modes of study.

    International students: If you require a Tier 4 student visa, you will not be able to study a part-time course.

  • What are the fees for postgraduate degrees?
    • What you pay will be determined by the duration of the course, its perceived quality and reputation, its level, and how much it costs the university to manage.
    • A doctorate costs more than a master's, and an MBA costs more than a PhD.
    • Tuition fees range from £9,000 a year to over £30,000, with the average around £11,000 per year.
    • Fees are normally higher for international students.
  • Can I get help with funding?

    It’s always worth checking to see if there are grants, bursaries, scholarships, or sponsorship opportunities for your course, either offered by the university, businesses or organisations, or a public body such as a charity. Please see our finance and support section for guidance on how to research the possibilities.

    Other than that, your options are paying from savings if you have them, or securing a loan. The Government will not pay your fees but exceptions are made for initial teacher training and many qualifications in social work and medicine or healthcare.

  • Can I study at postgraduate level without going to university or without a first degree?

    It's possible to study at postgraduate level without going to university, as some companies, professional bodies and a limited number of further education colleges also have courses for postgraduates.

    In a small number of cases, you’ll be able to take a postgraduate qualification without a first degree – providing you can supply evidence of subject knowledge and ability.

  • What are the entry requirements for postgraduate study?

    You’ll find specific details alongside individual course details. Generally, however:

    • for a taught master's, you'll need a qualification that’s comparable to a UK undergraduate degree, normally to 2:1 standard or above. Also, you’ll need to demonstrate enthusiasm, skill and knowledge of your discipline (and possibly relevant work experience), particularly if your first degree is in another topic
    • for a PhD or a master's in research (MRes), entry requirements can be higher. You may be turned down if your first degree is not in a relevant area, and you may also need a master’s degree to study at doctorate (PhD) level 
    • you may need to pass an entrance test for some types of course, for example the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) for the MBA
    • if you want to be a PhD student, you usually need to create a research proposal

    If you’re still not sure whether you meet the entry requirements, contact the course provider to check.

  • What can I do to increase my chances of getting onto a postgraduate course?

    You need to take time to write your application. But before you get to that stage, it’s essential to find a course that matches your skills and your needs. If you’re not certain which postgraduate programme is right for you, research the possibilities and think about your requirements (as well as those of the university) before making your final shortlist.

  • How do I apply for postgraduate study?

    We provide an application service called UKPASS for postgraduate courses at some UK universities and colleges. Check which course providers use UKPASS.

    You can find courses and details of how to apply in the postgraduate course search.

  • Can I apply to more than one university or course?

    There are no rules against applying to more than one university. It’s smart to do so – providing their courses are similar – as it extends your chances of being accepted. Some universities will let you nominate a second course 'in reserve' if you feel it also meets your needs.

  • When should I apply?
    • You’ll need to apply by June or July for many of the postgraduate courses that start in September and October. However, don’t wait until the last moment to apply – you’ll also need time to sort out your finances, accommodation, travel arrangements and possibly your visa if you’re an international student.
    • To be safe, apply at least six months in advance – so around March for a course that starts in September/October. If you’re moving to the UK, allow an extra four months or more if you apply for funding from organisations in your own country, as you will be asked for proof of finance at the application stage.
    • Finally, some courses start at different times of the year so please check with the course provider.
  • What are the stages of applying for a postgraduate course?
    • Completing an application for each university you want to apply to.
    • Writing a personal statement that explains why you want to study, and what you can contribute and gain.
    • Supplying written references from two former tutors or employers who know how you perform in an academic or professional setting. Your choice of referee will depend upon the course.
    • Supplying official transcripts and records that prove your achievements to date.
    • Paying an application fee if your postgraduate course requires it.