Masters funding – what supports might be available?

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The first port of call for anyone considering applying for funding for their Master’s programme should be the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). This will give you an estimation as to whether you might be eligible for student funding based on special criteria and personal circumstances. For postgraduate funding you must be pursuing study on an increasing scale on the NFQ framework, so with a Master’s qualification standing at level 9 on this scale, that is likely to be the case. You must also be studying at a recognised Irish third level institution.

Masters funding requirements

There are two ways in which postgraduate students may qualify for assistance under the SUSI scheme. They may either be eligible for a new flat-rate fee contribution of €2,000, or get all their tuition fees paid and essential field trips contributed to (up to €6,270). And that’s only if they meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grants designated to disadvantaged students. Maintenance grants are currently not available from SUSI for postgraduate students.

Other supports include tax relief on Master’s tuition fees, and you can get further information from the Department of Social Welfare about their Back to Education Scheme here. Visit the Higher Education Authority Student Finance section of their website to see what else you could be eligible for. Another useful resource is www.citizensinformation.ie but make sure you contact the governing authority regarding any particular funding directly as they will obviously have the most up-to-date information available.

Other avenues

Outside of SUSI and the supports mentioned above, almost all of Ireland’s main universities have a substantial amount of funding and award options available. However, there are also a substantial amount of criteria in addition to deadlines to consider. Scholarships and funding opportunities for postgraduate qualifications are more limited than those for undergraduate level and are more likely to be displayed and advertised directly on the website and individual course pages of the Master’s course that you are interested in.

Funding examples

According to 2017 data, University College Dublin alone had over 100 postgraduate schemes, bursaries, and awards of varying levels of value, so take a very close look at the institution in which you want to pursue your Masters frequently to see what may be announced. Some examples in the case of UCD would be the Achiever MBA Scholarship, which amounts to €30,000, or the Master in Engineering Scholarship (€7,500) or for those on the creative and side, the Caroline Walsh Bursary in Creative Writing, which amounts to approximately €6,300. UCD’s partner business school, the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School also offers a range of merit-based and needs-based awards for their Master’s programmes.

In 2017, Maynooth University launched 60 awards of €2,000 each to support full-time Master’s level study available across all departments where Masters programmes are offered. At doctoral level, it offers the John and Pat Hume Award, which offers up to €16,000 per annum and full fees for four years plus expenses. Of course, visit the university website to find out the most up-to-date information. University College Cork run scholarships every year to select a number of applicants pursuing Master’s qualifications in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences.

Don’t be afraid to reach out

The above are just a few examples, so get in touch directly with your chosen institution. Find out what supports they can provide you with and what assistance they can direct you towards. A Master’s programme is a significant financial undertaking so make sure you exhaust every opportunity you can to access some level of support.


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