3. Eligibility

You must have started your course on or after 1 August 2016.

Whether you qualify depends on:

  • if you’ve studied on a postgraduate course before
  • your course
  • your age
  • your nationality or residency status

You won’t be able to get the Postgraduate Loan if you’re already getting a student loan for an undergraduate course in the same academic year.

If you’ve studied before

If you already have a master’s degree, or a qualification that’s an equivalent or higher, you won’t be eligible.

Your course

Your course must:

  • be provided by a university or college in the UK (including the Open University)
  • lead to a postgraduate master’s degree

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

You can also apply if you’re studying by distance learning. You must be resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course. If you change address after starting your course, you’ll remain eligible as long as you still live within the UK.

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)

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
  • have been awarded a Social Work Bursary

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