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PhD Funding Guide for Universities in UK


Read about PhD Funding for UK Universities. PhD Funding in UK Universities includes bursaries, Studentships, Assistant-ships, Stipend and full Scholarships

PhD Funding – Guidance and Tips

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Online PhD UK Funding


You have made it. You have been accepted into the university and doctorate program you have always dreamed of. Now comes the difficult stuff. PhD programs are expensive and require more time than previous degrees which doesn’t leave a lot of time for additional work. Before you start to panic remember there are thousands of different forms of PhD funding available to you.

PhD Funding – Bursary


This type of PhD funding is a monetary award given by an institute of higher education for applicants that cannot pay full school fees. Bursaries are usually reserved for impoverished applicants or applicants that have found themselves experiencing hard times. Many educational institutes have funding available to provide bursaries to students.


This type of PhD funding is awarded after a series of tests are conducted in order to determine if applicants meet the eligibility requirements such as low family income levels. Academic performance is usually a criteria for this type of PhD funding. Successful grades usually mean the continuance of the bursary. Bursaries can be awarded alongside additional scholarships to help ease the financial strain. Applicants hoping to be awarded bursaries have to supply sufficient evidence of financial hardship.


There are two different types of bursaries:

  • There is a sliding scale bursary that awards applicants with severe financial hardships full awards while offering decreased awards to applicants that meet the requirements but don’t need as much assistance.
  • The other type of bursary is a prize or scholarships. These bursaries are awarded for academic success.

PhD Funding – Studentships/Assistantships


This type of PhD funding is a department based award that allows funding for students participating in specific projects while conducting their postgraduate research. Studentships are normally awarded by research organizations like the Research Council and are combined with additional funding from the program department.


Studentships are similar to scholarships in that they provide funding but applicants that have studentships are required to participate in work related projects usually summer research projects. In order to maintain eligibility applicants with studentships must commit a number of hours a week to work related duties. Studentships are also referred to as assistantships.

PhD Funding – Stipend


This form of PhD funding is like a salary given to apprenticeships or internships. A stipend is a set amount that allows enough financial support for PhD students to perform their research duties without having to worry about outside work to cover their living expenses. It is in a sense like getting paid to research. The stipend usually provides a monthly payment to students undertaking research responsibilities that allows them to focus solely on their research pursuits. Stipends are monetarily lower than salaries because they normally come with additional benefits such as living accommodations and food related vouchers.

PhD Funding – Scholarships


This type of PhD funding is the most familiar funding and is one of the most available forms of PhD funding. Scholarships can be awarded for a number of different reasons ranging from academic performance to the interests of the donor who is offering the scholarships. Scholarships are PhD funding that the applicant is not required to ever pay back no matter the circumstances. Universities can offer scholarships to applicants that are fully funded which cover the total cost of the program or they can offer scholarships that only pay a partial amount of education fees. Every scholarship is different and it is important that the applicant understand the different types of scholarships. Just because scholarships are available does not mean that the university has to offer one to applicants. Some of the most common forms of scholarships are:

  • Merit Based: This is one of the most common types of scholarships available. These types of scholarships can be awarded through a university or through a private organization. The most popular merit based scholarships have to do with education pursuits. Merit based scholarships are paid directly to the school instead of to students. Merit based scholarships take into account many different aspects of the students life ranging from:

o   Academics

o   Athletic ability

o   Extracurricular activities

o   Volunteer duties

o   Community service

  • Need Based: This type of scholarship is more commonly known in countries such as the United States. Need based scholarships are awarded to applicants that fall under a financial hardship category. Students wishing to apply for need based scholarships must submit sufficient evidence of financial hardship in order to be approved.
  • Student Specific: this type of scholarship is awarded for things that make the student unique. These scholarships can range from being a certain gender, being left handed, all the way through religion or medical history. They are very specific scholarships and not always the easiest to obtain. Also some student specific scholarships are not accepted at all universities.
  • Career Specific: this type of scholarship is awarded through universities or colleges for applicants pursuing a very specific study area. Many areas such as nursing and education will offer these scholarships because there is such a high demand for those areas of study. Many universities will award an applicant a full scholarship for a program if it is a high need program.
  • University/College Specific: this type of PhD funding is offered through educational institutes to the best applicants. These scholarships are intended for applicants that have achieved some form of personal achievement or academic success. Sometimes the scholarships are fully funded and at other times they are only partially funded.
  • PhD Funding

    PhD Funding

    Athletic: this type of scholarship is very common. Applicants that show outstanding athletic abilities will be awarded scholarships to attend certain universities with the condition that they participate in athletics at the university. These kinds PhD Funding are highly competitive and very fragile. If for any reason an applicant cannot participate in the sport they were awarded the scholarship for they could be dropped from the whole scholarships program.