• University of Glasgow Featured PhD Programmes
  • University of East Anglia Featured PhD Programmes
  • University of Cambridge Featured PhD Programmes
  • Aberdeen University Featured PhD Programmes
  • Castelldefels School of Social Sciences Featured PhD Programmes
  • University of Birmingham Featured PhD Programmes
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

PhD Funding Guide

Looking for help covering the cost of your doctorate? PhD funding is available from a range of sources, but it's important to know where to look.

That's where this guide comes in. We've put together a summary of the main sources of PhD funding, with links to our own in-depth guides and other resources.

So, whether you're looking for a Research Council grant, a scholarship, or even a PhD loan, we'll help you get started. Postgraduate research may be challenging. Finding funding for a PhD doesn't have to be.


UK Research Council studentships

The UK Research Councils (RCUK) offer PhD studentships in a range of subject areas. These awards are available at UK universities and are usually awarded to the best students applying each year.

Studentships are open to UK and EU residents. International students may also be able to apply to a limited number of studentships with 'open eligibility'.

This funding will usually pay your PhD fees and may also provide a stipend for living costs, depending on eligibility.

Research Council PhD Funding

A Research Council studentship could be ideal if you're planning on studying a PhD in the UK. Our guide explains eligibility and applications, together with a handy FAQ.


UK PhD loans

The UK will introduce doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 in time for the 2018-19 academic year. UK students will be able to apply for a loan to study a PhD anywhere in the UK, provided they are ordinarily resident in England. EU students may be eligible, but this is not yet confirmed.

Other parts of the UK may also introduce PhD loans in future years, with plans being discussed in Wales and Northern Ireland. Our newsletter will keep you updated.

Note that these loans are separate to the postgraduate loans that are already available for Masters degrees and similar programmes, across the UK.

UK PhD Loans

PhD loans will be introduced for UK students next year. Our guide explains how the loans will work and answers the questions you may have about them.


University scholarships

One of the best sources of support for your PhD could actually be the university you need the funding for. This isn't as strange as it might sound.

The majority of universities have their own scholarships and bursaries available to support students. These vary by institution, but they often take one of the following forms:

  • Merit-based (academic) scholarships - Universities want to recruit the best postgraduate researchers and one way of doing that is to provide incentives in the form of support for PhD fees and living costs.
  • Need-based scholarships - Most universities also want to be sure that their education and training is available to suitable students, regardless of their background. They may help with this by setting aside fee waivers or bursaries for less wealthy students or those who might otherwise struggle to pursue a PhD.
  • International scholarships - Attracting students from abroad can boost a university's research potential by broadening the pool of researchers it attracts and providing an opportunity to combine new ideas and perspectives. Many institutions support this by funding PhD students from other countries.

The best way to find university scholarships is to first find a suitable PhD. You can then contact the university that offers it and ask if funding might be available for a student in your situation.

Make sure your enquiry looks (and is) genuine. Universities will be more likely to respond to students who can demonstrate a real interest in their PhD projects or programmes.


Research charities and academic foundations

It isn't just universities and governments that fund PhD students. A large number of independent organisations also support postgraduate research.

Some are large research charities with substantial budgets for scholarships and grants. Others foundations and charities are smaller, but may still provide financial support to students in their areas of interest.

Details of eligibility requirements for some of the major research charities are available through the links below:

In addition to these, many other smaller organisations provide funding to PhD students. You can read more about these opportunities in our guide to PhD funding from charities and trusts.


International PhD funding in the UK

For any overseas students, your first port of call should be grant-awarding bodies in your own country (eg The Ministry/Department of Education) and your local (or nearest) office of the British Council (addresses for international British Council offices can be found at www.britishcouncil.org). The British Council manage a small number of international studentship grants in some countries and should be able to tell you what other awards may be available to you.

The sites listed below also contain links and information on funding:

British Government Scholarships

The UK offers a range of scholarship opportunities for international students, including those at PhD level. Many are reserved for applicants from developing countries.

European Students

European Union (EU) citizens may qualify for a fees only Research Council studentship, but will need to find their own money for living expenses.

The EU provides some grants to promote the exchange of students and academic staff within Europe, such as the SOCRATES and LEONARDO Programmes. The European Commission (EC) also makes some awards to students from developing countries. Contact the EC office in your own country or write to the European Commission, Directorate General III, Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium. Further details can also be found on the Community Research & Development Information Service (CORDIS) web site.

Research collaboration in Europe extends beyond the EU and residents of European countries with organisations affiliated to the European Science Foundation may also be eligible for certain schemes.

Brexit and PhD study

The UK may have voted to leave the EU, but 'Brexit' isn't expected to take place until 2019. In the meantime, our postgraduate FAQ offers advice for EU students studying in the UK and UK students studying abroad.

Pakistani Students

The Higher Education Commission provides information on scholarships available to Pakistani students wishing to study abroad.

USA Students

  • Fulbright Scholarships
    A range ofcholarships for United States graduates to enable them to study in the UK. Write to the Graduate Students Programs, Institute of International Education (IIE), 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017- 3580, USA
  • British Marshall Scholarships
    Scholarships for United States citizens, who are under 26 and are graduates of United States universities, to enable them to study for a degree in the UK. For details, write to: Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission, John Foster House, 36 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PF; tel: 020 7387 8572; [email protected]. Application forms are available from United States universities and colleges, British Consulates General in the United States, or British Information Services, 845 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022, USA

Funding for study outside of the UK

Most countries have some form of PhD funding available for their own students and for international postgraduates. Our guides to PhD study abroad are a good place to look for more information.

You can also contact the Ministry / Department of Education in your home country, for advice. They may be able to tell you about international scholarships - or offer funding from your own government.



British Commonwealth Countries

Click for a list of Commonwealth countries

  • Commonwealth Scholarship Plan
    Full scholarships, for Commonwealth students to enable them to study in other Commonwealth countries. Grants are for one to three years and usually cover the cost of travel, tuition fees and living expenses. In some cases, additional allowances may be available for help with books and clothes. For details, write to: Commonwealth Awards Division, Association of Commonwealth Universities, John Foster House, 36 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PF; tel: 020 7387 8572; [email protected]

Canada

Universities Canada provides some information for international students wishing to study in Canada.

European Union

The EU provides some grants to promote the exchange of students and academic staff within Europe, such as the SOCRATES and LEONARDO Programmes. The European Commission (EC) also makes some awards to students from developing countries. Contact the EC office in your own country or write to the European Commission, Directorate General III, Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium. Further details can also be found on the Community Research & Development Information Service (CORDIS) web site

Information on national schemes can be found at:

Research collaboration in Europe extends beyond the EU and residents of European countries with organisations affiliated to the European Science Foundation may also be eligible for certain schemes.

USA

Application procedures for Fulbright grants to study or teach in the United States vary from country to country. Fulbright Commissions or the American Embassies administer the program, with the assistance of local educational authorities and institutions.

To learn more about the program or to begin the application process, contact the Fulbright Commission in your country. If there is no commission in your country, contact the American embassy.

UK students wishing to study in the USA should visit www.fulbright.co.uk

USA students wishing to study overseas should contact the Institute of International Education

All countries

You can find more information on funding to study a PhD abroad in our individual guides to international phd study in different countries. Each includes a section on fees and funding.


Erasmus PhD funding

The EU's Erasmus+ programme provides funding for students to study abroad, including support for PhDs.

You may be able to apply for a scholarship for an overseas placement, or receive funding for a joint degree through the EU's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).


The FindAPhD Scholarships

We're proud to announce the launch of our own 2017 postgraduate scholarship scheme, giving away £12,000 worth of funding to prospective postgraduate students for the sixth year running.

Students wishing to start their postgraduate studies in autumn 2017 at any university listed on FindAPhD.com or FindAMasters.com should register now for a chance to win a share of our £12,000 scholarships scheme pot.

FindAPhD Scholarships 2017

Our 2017 PhD scholarship competition is open. Enter now for your chance to win a top prize of £5,000 or one of two £500 runner-up awards.


Other PhD funding

Hopefully this page has helped reveal just how much support is available for PhD study. But, if you haven't found a suitable funding option yet, don't worry.

Here are a few more possibilities that could be worth considering:

  • Working during a PhD - PhD self-funding may not be your aim, but it's far from impossible - particularly in Arts and Humanities subjects. Working alongside your degree can help provide an additional source of income.
  • DSA for PhD students - You may be eligible for additional support if a disability, chronic illness or learning difficulty makes postgraduate study more expensive for you.
  • PhD funding blogs - Looking for more advice? We regularly cover PhD funding topics on our blog, with information on specific sources of support, as well as updates on new developments.

Last, but not least, don't forget our PhD newsletter. Signing up gives you free access to regular updates on PhD opportunities and funding information - including news about the options and opportunities listed on this page.



Last updated - 10/05/2017

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