How to fund your postgraduate education
Awards, scholarships and grants are all available to help with your masters or PhD
For students hoping to begin a postgraduate in the 2020-21 academic year, now is a good time to begin researching.
As attention turns towards final undergraduate projects and exams, you may also start thinking about the next step and how you’re going to fund your postgraduate degree. Whether you intend on undertaking a taught or research postgraduate, how to fund it will be of concern to many students.
Scholarships are available from all universities, as is funding from other bodies and institutes. The following is an outline of some of the scholarships and funding available. A full list of all prizes and bursaries is available from each of the institutes’ websites and from individual departments.
All have various deadlines and application requirements, so it is imperative that you follow up with the relevant department as soon as possible and submit your application on time. For students hoping to begin a postgraduate in the 2020-21 academic year, now is a good time to begin researching as some applications will close later this year.
State funding is available for postgraduate courses through the Susi (Student Universal Support Ireland) system. Many students will be familiar with Susi if they applied to and received funding through it throughout their undergrad. However, even if a student has received Susi funding before, they will need to apply again for their postgraduate course.
Applications for the upcoming academic year open at the beginning of April. It is advised you apply as early as possible and take very careful note of all documentation required by Susi, to avoid any delay to your application and to receive your funding, if you are eligible, as early as possible. The amount awarded will depend on a number of factors, such as your own or family income, whether you are a dependent or independent applicant and your distance from the college.
Your first port of call should be the Susi eligibility reckoner (susi.ie/eligibility-reckoner-app/), which provides an indication of your possible eligibility for funding based on the information you provide to a series of questions. Postgraduate funding for Level 8 to 10 is available from Susi for a maximum of four years.
Tax relief of 20 per cent can be claimed on postgraduate fees by whoever pays the fees, be it the student themselves or another party. However, the relief is subject to a “single disregard” amount. This amount (typically €3,000 for full-time postgraduate courses) is taken away from the total qualifying fees (this is the amount paid for tuition fees, including the student contribution fee) and no relief can be received on that portion of the fees. More information is available from Revenue (revenue.ie).
Sixty taught masters scholarships worth €2,000 each are available to students undertaking full-time programmes at Maynooth University. A minimum final overall undergraduate honours bachelor’s degree of a 2.1 is required to be considered for them. More information on the scholarships is available at maynoothuniversity.ie.
Last year 27 John and Pat Hume Doctoral Award scholarships were granted by the university. Established in honour of John and Pat Hume in recognition of their lifelong support for human rights issues and their work for peace and reconciliation, the top level of funding provides an up to €18,000a year stipend plus fees for four years of PhD research. There are also lower levels of funding available. The scholarship is open across all disciplines and to both professional doctorates and part-time students. For more information visit: maynoothuniversity.ie/jphawards.
NUI Galway’s main taught masters scholarship is its 1:1 scheme, worth €1,500 each. While it is awarded to anyone with a first-class honours degree who has been accepted on to a full-time programme, an application form must still be filled out.
For those undertaking research, the Hardiman PhD Scholarships are fully funded for four years, with a stipend of €16,000 per year plus fees. The scholarships offer opportunities for suitably qualified individuals to pursue a structured PhD focused within five key areas of research: humanities; biomedical science and engineering; informatics, physical and computational; environment, marine and energy, and social science and public policy.
Those undertaking the professional master of education in order to teach through Irish at second level can also apply for a €2,000 bursary.
A number of other postgraduate scholarships varying in value are also available across a number of disciplines, such as business, technology, health sciences, and old and middle Irish. More information is available at nuigalway.ie/postgraduate_scholarships/.
UCC offers a range of scholarships and prizes, with funding ranging from €500 up to €28,000. There are a number of taught masters scholarships, such as the Quercus scholarship, which is a 50 per cent contribution towards postgraduate fees for the duration of a course; the Southern Law Association Prize (worth €1,000), and, for history students, the Michael Joseph McEnery memorial prize, worth about €12,000. For UCC graduates who have a parent with the surname O’Connor, they can apply for the €10,000 O’Connor Scholarship.
There are also large number of research scholarships available, such as the Heinz doctoral research fellowship in international business strategy (€15,000) and the David John Barry Fellowship in Food Technology and Marketing (€7,000), while medical students can apply for the Ainsworth Scholarship, which is dependent on the candidate’s financial need and the costs likely to be incurred. See ucc.ie for more information.
UL offers a number of postgraduate scholarships. Ten taught scholarships are available through UL’s Kemmy Business School and 10 from the faculty of science and engineering, each offering €2,000 towards fees. Students hoping to study any of the taught MA programmes at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance can apply for one of the €1,000 Stepping Stones scholarships available, while the academy also offers a limited number of full and/or partial fee waivers for research students at MA and PhD level. The school of allied health offers two structured PhD scholarships paying fees for four years (€17,284 in total), while the school’s interprofessional education PhD scholarship is worth €92,768 in total over a four-year period.
There are also a number of physical education and sport sciences scholarships on offer, including the Physical Education and Sport Sciences Postgraduate Scholarship and the PJ Smyth scholarship, both for PhD students, covering fees and providing a bursary of €13,000 per annum for four years. See ul.ie for more information.
Dublin City University
DCU offers a wide range of scholarships across its schools. The John Thompson scholarship in digital marketing offers full fees and a small contribution towards books and study expenses, while the school of communications has up to five PhD scholarships with a tax-free stipend of not less than €14,000, plus fees.
The 30% Club, which aims to achieve better gender balance at all levels in leading Irish businesses, is offering a fee scholarship to female engineers or computer scientists studying on a full- or part-time basis in DCU’s faculty of engineering and computing.
The Intel scholarship worth €3,000 is available to graduates who plan to enter either the MEng in electronic and computer engineering or the MEng in mechanical and manufacturing engineering, while the UrbanVolt scholarship is available to one DCU masters student who demonstrates an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset.
The San Jose-Dublin Sister City Programme Exchange Scholarship, valued at more than $50,000, awards a taught masters scholarship to an engineering, physics or computer science graduate.
There are also a number of other scholarships available, such as sports, aviation and alumni scholarships. For more details on all scholarships visit the postgraduate section on each of the schools’ websites.
UCD has a diverse range of postgraduate scholarships, bursaries and awards varying in value. Top-performing eligible candidates can apply for scholarships in their chosen fields, such as the Achiever MBA Scholarships (up to €34,500 each); the Réalta Master in Engineering Scholarship (€7,500); the Caroline Walsh Bursary in Creative Writing (€6,300); three MA scholarships in the UCD school of English, drama and film, each to the value of €5,000; the Kevin B Nowlan Scholarship in Irish or Modern European History (€5,500); the Helga and Hugh Staunton Scholarship for postgraduate studies in German (€5,000), and 16 Intel scholarships, each to the value of €3,000.
Business students can apply for a range of full and partial merit- and needs-based scholarships, through the Women on the MBA Scholarship and the Aspire MBA and MSc scholarships for those who demonstrate the ambition to study at the Smurfit School but who need some financial help.
For more information on all scholarships contact the respective schools and colleges within the university.
Trinity College Dublin
TCD has a broad range of studentships, scholarships and specific funded projects for research across all disciplines, normally covering tuition fees and providing a stipend. The university also offers a number of named benefactions and awards funded by largely private donations and bequests.
However, scholarships and funding for taught postgraduate courses are more limited and when available are advertised on the individual course web pages and the website of the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies. The university website provides a full breakdown of opportunities. Details of scholarships available can be found at: tcd.ie.
North/South Postgraduate Scholarships
Universities Ireland, the body which promotes collaboration between universities in the North and the Republic, offers four scholarships (which last year were worth €15,000 each) to students who have been accepted to undertake a recognised masters degree or are entering the first year of a PhD programme at a university on the island of Ireland and meet a number of eligibility requirements as detailed on its website: universitiesireland.ie.
Irish Research Council
The Irish Research Council manages a range of interlinked programmes funding researchers across all career stages and disciplines. Applications for 2019-20 have already closed but those with an eye on 2020-21 should monitor the council’s website, as funding opportunities typically open at different times during the year and close at various dates from the summer onwards. See research.ie/.
The Fulbright Awards are open to Irish citizens to study or undertake postgraduate research in the US for a period of four months up to a year. Applications for 2019-20 have closed but will reopen in August 2019 for 2020-21 applications. See fulbright.ie for more.