How to fund your higher education programme

Awards, scholarships and grants are available to help fund your master’s or PhD

Funding options for higher education programmes include scholarships, awards and State funding

If you’re thinking about undertaking a postgraduate degree, how you’re going to fund it will be one of your biggest considerations.

However, there are scholarships, awards and State funding available to help prospective students cover the cost of their postgraduate study.

Here is a list of just some of the funding options available to prospective students, with further detail available on each institution’s own website. They each have their own deadlines and eligibility requirements. Therefore, if financial assistance is something you are considering, you should research these options now.



The Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) system is available to postgraduate students, assuming they meet the eligibility criteria, such as a student's place of residence, income and course choice.

Those who received Susi for their undergraduate studies are not automatically accepted for postgraduate support, and would need to reapply for their postgraduate course.

Prospective students can check the scheme's eligibility criteria on its website

Trinity College Dublin

For students hoping to undertake a postgraduate research option, Trinity offers studentships, scholarships and specific funded projects for research across all disciplines, normally covering tuition fees and providing a stipend.

The European Excellence Awards, worth up to €1,000 each, are available to Irish and European students undertaking a taught postgraduate course. Scholarships are also available for specific subject areas, such as business or E3 courses. Web:


There are 10 postgraduate scholarships, jointly supported by the Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA) and DCU Sport and Wellbeing, and offered across all faculties within the university.

There are also two Executive MBA scholarships in conjunction with the GPA at DCU Business School. In the school of business, the John Thompson scholarship offers a full fee waiver to one MSc digital marketing student, while the 30 per cent Club offers €10,000 to a female recipient from DCU Business School for part-time executive master's programmes or the Executive MBA.


UCD has a significant scholarship scheme available to under-represented students through the Access and Lifelong Learning department.

There are a variety of scholarships available in the different educational departments. For those studying law, the Doreen FitzGerald Caprani scholarship, worth €12,000, is open to students undertaking any of the nine master’s programmes at the Sutherland School of Law.

The School of Philosophy offers one Newman MA scholarship per year, which covers full European Union fees and is open for application to anyone applying for the general stream MA in philosophy. The School of Sociology also has graduate bursaries available, worth €2,000.

Meanwhile, in the School of Politics and International Relations there are a number of graduate scholarships of up to €4,135 plus a tax-free annual stipend of €750.

Maynooth University

The university offers 60 scholarships of €2,000 per student through its taught master’s programme. A 2.1 is required to be considered and the scholarships are open to MU and non-MU graduates

For PhD candidates, the John and Pat Hume doctoral scholarships are available across all disciplines and to both professional doctorates as well as part-time students. The top level of funding provides up to €18,000 stipend plus fees for four years of PhD research, but there are also lower levels of funding available.

University of Limerick

UL offers a number of postgraduate scholarships, including sports scholarships to support top athletes in pursuing and excelling in their sport while studying at the university.

There are 10 taught scholarships available through both UL’s Kemmy Business School and from the faculty of science and engineering, each offering €2,000 towards fees, while the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance offers a limited number of full and/or partial fee waivers for research students at MA and PhD level.

Students undertaking the MSc nursing studies programme can apply for scholarships worth €3,000, while five scholarships of €1,000 are available to students undertaking MAs in the school of English, Irish and Communication.



The O’Connor scholarship is a €10,000 award available for one postgraduate student per year, in any discipline. However, to be eligible the individual must have been born in Ireland, and must have a parent whose surname was O’Connor at birth.

There are a number of scholarships with many covering course fees in the schools of arts, and for history students in particular, there is the Michael Joseph McEnery memorial prize worth €12,000.

In the Science, Engineering and Food Science department, there are a number of scholarships available, such as the Lilly research scholarship worth €22,000 and the John Sisk research scholarship in civil engineering worth €20,000.

For health and medicine students, the Amneal pharmaceutical scholarship for those applying for the MSc research in pharmaceutics is the highest available at €23,700.


NUI Galway

The taught master’s scholarship scheme offers awards of €1,500 to any person with a first-class honours degree who has been accepted on a full-time postgraduate programme at the university.

The Hardiman PhD Scholarships are available for those pursuing research, and are fully funded for four years, with a stipend of €18,500 per year plus fees.

There are a number of other postgraduate scholarships, the value of which varies, available across a range of disciplines.

North/South postgraduate scholarships

For individuals considering undertaking postgraduate study in another jurisdiction of Ireland, Universities Ireland offers at least four scholarships, each worth €15,000.

Eligible students must have been accepted to undertake a recognised master’s degree or are entering the first year of a PhD programme at a university in the island of Ireland that is not in the same jurisdiction as the university where they have previously studied.

IT Sligo

If you have special learning needs, a disability or any circumstances which might need individual consideration, Sligo IT’s access office co-ordinates a wide variety of learning supports, financial supports and the Hear and Dare programmes. This includes bursaries and scholarships. The Uversity Scholarships Portal is open for applications until March 25th. Uversity is a registered charity that grants Higher Education scholarships to adult learners seeking to unlock their potential and realise their academic, personal and professional ambitions.

Irish Research Council

The organisation, which operates under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills, offers a suite of interlinked programmes which funds researchers across all career stages and disciplines. Many applications for the forthcoming academic year have already closed, but it is worth keeping an eye on the council’s website, as the programmes often have different deadline dates throughout the year.


A master’s in business administration (MBA) is one of the most expensive types of postgraduate study, coming in at almost €35,000. Typically, all universities offer some scholarship or bursary for those applying for MBAs and they are usually listed on the same page as all other postgraduate scholarships.

Another alternative for those in employment is to seek funding from their employer, many of which are happy to provide financial assistance if the employee can illustrate the value the MBA could add to the company.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times