Postgraduate loans

3. Eligibility

Whether you qualify depends on:

  • your course
  • your age
  • your nationality or residency status

You won’t be able to get a Postgraduate Loan if:

  • you’re already getting student finance for an undergraduate course in the same academic year
  • you received a Postgraduate Loan before - unless you left your course due to illness, bereavement or another serious personal reason
  • you already have a master’s degree, or a qualification that’s equivalent or higher

You’ll still be eligible if you have a PGCE or a postgraduate diploma or certificate.

You won’t get extra money if you repeat a year of your course.

Your course

It must:

  • be a full, standalone master’s course (not a top-up course)
  • be worth 180 credits - check the course provider’s website if you’re not sure
  • have started on or after 1 August 2016

It must be provided by a university or college:

  • in the UK (including the Open University)
  • that’s publicly funded or a designated private provider - check with your provider if you’re not sure

If your course started in the 2016 to 2017 academic year, the private provider must have degree-awarding powers.

It can be taught or research-based and studied:

  • full-time, lasting 1 or 2 academic years
  • part-time, lasting 2 to 4 academic years - no more than twice the length of the equivalent full-time course
  • part-time for up to 3 years, where no equivalent full-time course exists

Examples of postgraduate master’s qualifications include:

  • MSc (master of science)
  • MA (master of arts)
  • MPhil (master of philosophy)
  • MRes (master of research)
  • LLM (master of law)
  • MLitt (master of letters)
  • MFA (master of fine art)
  • MEd (master of education)
  • MBA (master of business administration)

You can’t get a loan for a postgraduate certificate or diploma.

Distance learning

To qualify for a Postgraduate Loan for distance learning, you’ll need to be living both:

  • in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • within the UK for the whole of your course

This usually doesn’t apply if you’re:

  • serving in the armed forces
  • a spouse or civil partner of a serving member of the armed forces
  • a dependant parent living with a serving member of the armed forces

Integrated master’s

The Postgraduate Loan is not available for any integrated master’s course. Apply for undergraduate funding instead.

Master of architecture

If you plan to study for a master of architecture (MArch) qualification full-time, apply for undergraduate support.

The Postgraduate Loan will only be available for an MArch if you’re either:

  • taking a part-time course
  • aren’t eligible for undergraduate funding for another reason

Health and social work bursaries

You can’t get a Postgraduate Loan if you:

  • are eligible for an NHS bursary
  • get a Social Work Bursary - unless you only get a Placement Travel Allowance

This also applies for health and social work bursaries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Your age

You must be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.

The academic year is a period of twelve months starting on:

  • 1 September, if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December
  • 1 January, if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March
  • 1 April, if your course starts between 1 April and 30 June
  • 1 July, if your course starts between 1 July and 31 July

Your nationality or residency status

You can get the Postgraduate Loan if all of the following apply:

  • you’re a UK or EU national, or have ‘settled status’, so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay
  • you normally live in England, and didn’t move there just to study
  • you’ve been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years before starting your course

You may also be eligible if you’re an EU national and all the following apply:

  • you’re living in England on the first day of the first year of your course
  • you’ve normally lived in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the past 3 years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’)
  • you’ll be studying at a university or college in England

You could also be eligible if you’re:

  • the child of a Swiss national
  • the child of a Turkish worker
  • a refugee or a relative of one
  • an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or a relative of one
  • under humanitarian protection or a relative of someone who has been granted it
  • 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half your life