Opting to pursue a postgraduate qualification is a big undertaking. As well as being time-consuming and hard work, it's a major financial commitment. Help may be available through sources such as bursaries, scholarships, and Research Council grants.
The Costs - Two separate costs are involved:
- Tuition - the cost of tuition or fees you have to pay to the university or college where you plan to study
- Living costs - accommodation, food, travel and entertainment etc.
Both vary according to what you are studying and where your studies are based. Most postgraduate funding, unlike undergraduate grants and awards, must be sought competitively. This is particularly true for research-based courses.
Fees (for Irish students) range from €3,000 at the lower end of the scale to an average of around €5,000 and up to €20,000+ for some programmes. Students should estimate on needing an additional €6,000 a year (minimum) to live on.
There are many sources of funding available, but there is no guarantee that even the holder of a First class degree will actually secure an award.
|In general, postgraduate courses are fee paying. (See note below re financial assistance under the Student Grant Scheme)|
There are different sources of funding for postgraduate students. Some courses are advertised in the newspapers and include funding. Sometimes financial support is available from the university that is running the postgraduate course; sometimes you need to apply to an external body. Awards are available for a range of subjects, both for taught courses and research programmes. They vary as to amount, duration and whether they only cover fees or additiobnally include maintenance.
There are strict eligibility rules and deadlines for application. In addition, there are a large number of postgraduate students competing for limited funding.
Sources through which you can seek financial support for your graduate studies include:
- Postgraduate courses under the Graduate Skills Conversion Programme (see also Areas of Study)
- Loans - you may be able to secure some of the money required by loan arrangement, depending on the amount needed and a guaranteed credit record.
- Employers - your employer may be in a position to support your studies fiancially in exchange for a tenure agreement. For example: a contracted work period following completion of your studies, in return for fees and time invested.
- Other sources - scholarships, bursaries, grants and awards are offered by a variety of bodies to help support post-graduate students in their studies. It is advisable to contact individual colleges directly to find out what supports they may have available. Many public and private sector organisations also offer funding opportunites for particular areas of study.
- Department of Education and Skills
- Enterprise Ireland
- The Health Research Board
- Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET)
- Irish Research Council for the Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)
Note: Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), the Department of Education and Skills centralised student grant process, came into effect from in 2012. However, eligibility criteria for post-graduate fee support changed significantly:
Following budget changes, students entering postgraduate courses from year (2012/2013) are not entitled to a maintenance payment under the student grant scheme. Existing post-graduate students prior to this date are not affected.
|Detailed information on postgraduate eligibility for grant aid and other financial supports can be found at www.studentfinance.ie|
The Employment Based Postgraduate Programme provides funding for companies to employ high-calibre Researchers to work onsite with them on product, service or process innovations.
The Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme supports suitably qualified Research Masters and Doctoral candidates pursuing or intending to pursue full-time research in any discipline.
The Enterprise Partnership Scheme offers researchers the opportunity to gain additional beneficial experience and insight into the commercial arena while completing their research. This is an Irish Research Council initiative in partnership with private enterprise and public bodies.
Postgraduate Scholarships and Awards
Postgraduate awards are often offered as "Fees Only". This means that you will not receive any maintenance on which to live whilst studying; nor are you entitled to claim state benefits to cover the shortfall. If your postgraduate award does not include a maintenance element, you should estimate on needing an additional €6,000 a year minimum to live on.
A number of scholarships for study abroad are awarded annually by foreign governments to Irish students who are engaged in, or have completed a course of third-level education. Details of scholarships are circulated to universities and other relevant third-level institutions of education. Details of scholarships are also published on the Department of Education and Skills website. If you are interested in applying for these scholarships, you should contact the International Section of the Department of Education and Skills and ask to be placed on a mailing list for the scholarship offers. Application forms and relevant details will then be posted to you when the offers are open to receive applications.
Potential sources include the following:
The Central Remedial Clinic offers an annual scholarship for a student with a disability. The Dr. Ciaran Barry Research scholarship is reserved for a student undertaking a postgraduate degree and is open to any academic discipline. The grant covers one academic year of study. Details here.
The James M. Flaherty Scholarship Program - Scholarships will be awarded to support Canadians travelling to Ireland, and Irish travelling to Canada. Awards are made at two levels:
- Emerging Research Scholars from both countries may apply for awards to facilitate a four-week visit to the other country, to make contact with researchers working on research topics which relate to both our countries and which are open to all university disciplines.
- Established Researchers and Academics may apply for awards to enable part-time sabbatical-style leave from their academic appointments to spend up to two months as visiting professors in a university department in the other country, where they will collaborate in both research and teaching in academic areas which relate to both countries. Details here.
|Maynooth University||John and Pat Hume Doctoral Awards scheme - offers a number of scholarships for PhD research across all disciplines at Maynooth University.||Fees support plus €4,000 per year for 4 years|
Alumni scholarships for Maynooth graduates to do taught master’s courses at Maynooth University.
60 scholarships worth €2,000 for all graduates.
Offers 100 postgraduate scholarships for those with a first-class honours primary degree, who have been accepted onto a full-time taught master’s programme.
A number of other course-specific scholarships are also available for high-achieving students. See NUIG Funding and Research Opportunities
Variety of studentships and fellowships available for research students across all disciplines. Some 40 of these are funded by private donations, bequests and bursaries. There is no funding for taught postgraduate courses.
Ranging from €63 to €16,000+ a year.
Several school-specific and course-specific scholarships are available at UCC. Some cover course fees, e.g. the “Excellence” fees scholarships for applicants who intend starting a taught master’s or a one-year research master’s (MRes) in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences. Details here.
Scholarships, bursaries and awards for top-performing prospective and current postgraduate students including Caroline Walsh Bursary in Creative Writing
Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School - Aspire Scholarship Programme. Offers three MBA and nine MSc scholarships for those who could not otherwise afford to study at the school.
UCD School of English, Drama and Film Scoil an Bhéarla, na Drámaíochta agus na Scannánaíochta UCD - Maeve Binchy Travel Award commemorates Maeve Binchy, her love of travel and her world-celebrated creative writing. The Award, worth €4,000, is open to a student (undergraduate or postgraduate) currently enrolled in UCD’s College of Arts & Celtic Studies. The successful student will use the Award to fund a travel opportunity that will enhance her/his creative writing.
A number of course-specific scholarships for taught postgraduate programmes, such as those offered by the Kemmy Business School.
PhD scholarships in science and engineering.
|Up to€23,500 a year for four years|
|Queens University Belfast||QUB offers a wide range of annual university studentships for both taught and research programmes, which cover the full payment of tuition fees and include a maintenance allowance.
Queen’s also offers a number of other annual scholarships ranging from €650 to €5,000, and links to further external funding sources.
|€650 to €5,000|
|University of Ulster||Funding is available for both taught and research postgraduate study through studentships and scholarships, such as the Barnett Pharmaceutical Sciences Scholarship worth €10,000 for students on the MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences programme.||€10,000|
|Cross Border||North/South Postgraduate scholarships is a cross-Border scheme offering four scholarships worth €15,000 to high-achieving students from the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland who have been accepted on a recognised master’s degree or are entering the first year of a PhD at a university that is not in the same jurisdiction as the institution where they previously studied.||€15,000|
Universities Ireland will offer four “history bursaries” worth €6,500 to students undertaking post-graduate study on a topic relating to the 1912-1923 period in Ireland, the decade of the first World War and the division of the island into the states of Ireland (Irish Free State) and Northern Ireland.
|USA||The Fulbright Irish Student Awards are for Irish students and scholars to undertake postgraduate study and research at recognised colleges and academic institutions in the US. The student grant – the value of which varies depending on a number of factors – is only available for one year but students may remain in the US for the full duration of master’s and PhD programmes.|
|London||Sotheby’s Institute of Art London,, which offers courses to those who want to move into the art business, offers scholarships to applicants of all nationalities for certain MA courses and provides funding based on the income of its students. See|
|Germany||The German Government Awards scheme offers one-year grants for graduate students in any discipline who want to study at a German institution. The value is €750 per month plus an initial extra payment and a lump sum towards travel.||€750 per month plus extras|
Further information on Postgraduate funding, eligibility for grant aid and other financial supports can be found here: