A UK Master’s degree will open many doors for you: British universities are considered among the best in the world, and enjoy a great reputation. In addition to high-quality education, you can expect very student-centered service provision and an extremely international classroom experience. This comes at the price (literally) of very high tuition fees and above-average cost of living, but also provides good career opportunities through a generous graduate work visa route after your Master’s.
There are thousands of English-taught Masters in the United Kingdom - more than in any other European country. Find yours today!
UK universities distinguish between Taught Masters and Research Masters.
In a taught Master’s degree you will mostly complete scheduled modules such as lectures, seminars and work groups. This is the typical option that most students go for. In a research Master’s degree, on the other hand, you will learn more independently and work on one or more projects of your own - sort of a first step toward a potential PhD later on.
Taught programmes are sometimes marked as “PGT” (“postgraduate taught”) and end with the usual degrees like MA (Master of Arts) or MSc (Master of Science). Research Masters on the other hand can be marked as “PGR” (“postgraduate research”) and the degree awarded is usually an MRes (Master of Research).
Getting a Masters in the UK is very expensive: Tuition fees are higher than virtually anywhere else in Europe. Make sure you know how much you’ll pay so that you can prepare your finances.
UK universities distinguish between “Home” fees and “International” fees, sometimes also called “Overseas” fees. Home fees are lower and only valid for UK nationals or those who already had a residence permit. International students generally have to pay substantially higher tuition fees.
Ever since Brexit, students from the EU also have to pay the International fees, and are no longer eligible for Home fees (nor, unfortunately, the student support loans tied to that status).
UK Master International tuition fees range anywhere from £10,000 to £35,000. The fee level mostly depends on the reputation and ranking of the university, as well as the degree subject of your choice. In other words: The higher-ranked a university is, the more expensive it is to get your Master’s degree there.
Scottish universities also list “RUK” fees (“rest of UK”) that are higher than Home but lower than International fees; this is what students from England, Wales or Northern Ireland have to pay and does not apply to non-British students.
Every university and programme has specific admissions requirements and it pays off to research early what those are.
Generally, you must have a Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Degrees in unrelated subjects are also often acceptable, especially if you can show work or other experience in the area. (In this way, UK universities are more flexible than those in other countries!)
One very common Master admissions requirement is that you must have received at least a certain grade level (or GPA) for your undergraduate degree. British universities usually communicate this in terms of how undergraduate degrees are graded in the UK:
University websites usually offer conversion tables that help you figure out into which category your grade falls. These conversions are rarely perfect, though, and might also differ from institution to institution! If you feel that your grade is unfairly classified as lower, see if you can get a transcript of records that also shows which percentile of your class you were in. If you were in the top third of your class, chances are that the university admissions staff will consider your diploma “first class”.
If you don’t meet this or other requirements, don’t give up quite yet and ask the admissions staff. For example, if your undergrad degree is worse than the limit it might be possible to compensate for it with other positive factors, such as relevant work experience. It’s difficult but not impossible!
You apply directly to the university/universities through their application system(s), or - in very rare cases - via UCAS. The university websites will have detailed instructions on how it works. Typically, you need to upload scans of these documents:
Note that some universities - especially the more prestigious ones - charge application fees for some of their postgraduate courses. It can cost up to around £80 to apply, and this amount is usually non-refundable regardless of whether you get accepted or rejected.
There are no general deadlines for UK Masters applications. Most British universities decide on applications on a rolling basis. That means that if you want to start in September, you might still get lucky with late applications even in the summer - but it also means that popular Master’s courses might be full already in the spring.
Therefore, the earlier you apply, the better! If you can, we recommend sending your application already between January and March (for a September intake start) to be safe. For many universities (and especially if they’re not top-ranked), sending it in April or May should also be sufficient.
For some Masters you can also find alternative intake dates, and then most commonly a start in January.
UK universities charge among the highest tuition fees in Europe. But you might be lucky enough to qualify for a scholarship to finance your studies.
The British Council lists nearly 2,000 scholarships and grants for students that want to pursue a Master degree in the UK.
Also, most institutions offer their own grants or fee waivers, so it’s recommended to inquire with the admissions staff to confirm the options available.
Once you have accepted an offer for a place on a Master’s course, the university will proceed to help you in obtaining the necessary student visa.
This process can be complicated, but the good news is that British universities offer a lot of support and help through every step.
What you’ll need to get is the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). Universities conduct what they call a “pre-CAS check” with your help to make sure that all details in the CAS are correct. You can then use the CAS number for your student visa application.
Depending on where you are from, you need to prove you have enough money for your Master’s tuition fees and living expenses. If the programme lasts more than a year, you only need to show funds for the first-year fees. You also need to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for 9 months:
This is not necessary if you are a citizen of a country with a “differential evidence requirement”; for example the EU/EEA, the USA, Australia.
To apply for a student visa from outside the UK costs £363.
When you get the letter of acceptance with your offer, you typically also get information about housing. Most UK universities are very involved in helping you with accommodation. The earlier you respond the better your chances to get a place in a dormitory. Finding student accommodation through the university is much cheaper than trying to find an apartment in the free market.
Once all is taken care of, it’s time to plan your travels! You’ll find plenty of direct flights from everywhere in the world, especially to London, and good connections within the country. And if your new city does not have an airport, you’ll easily get there by a connecting train or bus. Good luck!
Most Master’s degrees in the UK last 1 year full-time, and longer for part-time studies.
Master’s degrees in the UK typically cost between £10,000 and £35,000 in tuition fees for international students.
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