How Much Does a PhD Cost in the UK? | DiscoverPhDs (2023)

Choosing to dedicate the next few years of your life towards a PhD is no light decision. Not only will it require you to dedicate an extensive amount of your personal time, but you’ll also need to consider how you’ll fund it. This raises the question, how much does a PhD cost in the UK?

The cost of a PhD can be divided into three key areas; tuition fees, living expenses and research expenditures. The combined cost of these are approximately£20,000 per yearfor UK students and can increase to over£40,000 per yearfor international students. A more in-depth breakdown of these costs can be found below. We’ve also compared these costs to other countries and outlined the various methods available to you to fund your PhD studies.

Tuition Fees

UK Fees

For UK ‘home’ students, the tuition fee for a PhD varies between £3,000 to £6,000 per academic year. For 2021/22 programmes, most universities opt for £4,500 per year within this range. Although this number may seem a little odd, it’s commonly adopted due to being the indicative rate set by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for UK universities.

International Fees

Unlike for UK applicants, the rates for international students don’t align with the indicative level set by UKRI. Following the implementation of Brexit, EU students now follow the same fee rates as other international students. International students will find that their tuition fees are higher than those of home students. For example, at the time of writing, the average annual PhD tuition charge at the University of Dundee is £4,486 for home students undertaking an Engineering PhD. This same average is £22,950 for international students.

International applicants will also find that the fee for PhDs in STEM subjectsare greater than those in non-STEM subjects. For example, at the University of Bristol, a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering costs £23,200 per year whilst a doctorate in Medieval Studies costs £18,300 per year.

To summarise, international students can expect a tuition fee of between £16,000 to £24,000 per year, with an average of around £19,600 per academic year. Non-STEM subjects will generally be at the lower end of the range, whilst STEM subjects will be at the higher end of the range.

Part-time Fees

The above fees are based on full-time postgraduate study. If you’re doing a part-time PhD, you can expect the fee to be half of these amounts. Although this may appear to be a cheaper option, keep in mind that the average duration of part-time PhDs are twice that of full-time PhDs. Therefore, the total tuition cost will amount to the same value and the end of both courses.

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Other Degree-related Costs

Research Support Fees

If your research project requires a high use of consumables, equipment or other resources, you may have to support the cost of these through an additional annual fee. This additional annual fee, often referred to as either a ‘research support’ or ‘bench’ fee, often apply to laboratory-based STEM research projects. Bench fees vary between different projects, even those within the same field. Therefore, it is best to speak to the admissions team on a project-by-project basis to receive anything useful.

Travel

Another cost you will need to account for is travelling. As part of your degree, many supervisors will expect you to attend conferences, training workshops, or other collaboration opportunities. As a result, you will often need to travel to various destinations which aren’t always limited to the UK. Although some programmes will cover these costs, it’s not unheard of that some positions will expect you to fund this yourself. It’s impossible to put a value on this, as the extent of travel depends on each project. Therefore, it would be wise to speak with the admissions team and current PhD students. They can provide you with an accurate estimate and let you know whether the university will cover the expenses.

Overtime Period Fee

When you’re enrolled into a PhD programme, you will be given a period to complete your PhD within. This period is known as your ‘registration period’ and is usually 3-4 years for a full-time PhD and 6-7 years for a part-time PhD. If you’re given an extension due to not completing your PhD study within this time, you will need to pay an overtime registration fee. Although the amount depends on each university, the University of Leeds sets theirs as £275 for 2021/22.

Living Costs

From a 2019 surveyof over 3,000 university students, the average living cost, covering expenditures such as rent, bills, food and recreation, was £809 per month. This equates to £9,708 per year.

Although this is an average cost, your true cost of living will depend on your location. Living in major cities such as London will draw significantly higher rent and travel costs than living in more rural locations. Although your living situation will in large be driven by the university you undertake your PhD with, you shouldfactor it in when deciding which universities to apply to.

To put this into perspective, the survey average of £9,708 per year uses a rent average of £431 per month. In London, this average increases to £600 a month and can surpass £1,000 if staying in university halls or private student accommodation. This is supported by University College London (UCL) who state you should expect an average rent of £1,028 per month if living in private accommodation around their university.

Tip– You can use this handy calculator for an estimated average cost of living for any UK university. All you need to do is select the university, and the calculator does all the rest.

If you’re an international student, you shouldfactor in returnflights back home. Although this may seem like a small expenditure compared to tuition fees and rent, they can add up quickly depending on the frequency and distance of your trip.

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How to Fund Your PhD

Studentships

A studentship is a form ofscholarship for doctoral students. They can either be partially funded, which cover tuition fees only, or fully funded, which also covers living costs through a ‘stipend’.

Studentships can be found in various places. Research Councils (RCUK) and European Social Fund (ESF) make funding available to university departments, who in turn make the funding available to doctoral students. Therefore, you will find that there are many postgraduate funding opportunities available to you, with the best places to look being the RCUK and ESF websites and the university departments themselves. External institutions which focus on research and development such as research trusts and charities would also be a useful place to look for a funded PhD.

Doctoral Loans

If you’re a UK student, you may qualify for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan from Student Finance England. This form of financial aid is available for nearly all postgraduate research degrees undertaken in a higher education setting. They will allow you to borrow up to a total of £27,265 for 2021/22 courses.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships

Graduate Teaching Assistantships are a form of studentships which allow you to teach undergraduates as part of your research degree. This not only helps improve your academic skills, but it also enables you to receive a salary whilst you’re studying. As well as teaching assistantships, some departments also provide opportunities for demonstrations, marking papers, and tutorial support. The amount you can earn through these schemes will depend on how many hours you work and what agreements you make with your supervisor or course leader.

Working Whilst You Study – Part-time PhDs

A research student may opt for a part-time PhD as opposed to a full-time one. Although this would double the duration of their studies, it allows them to take on a part-time job to improve their financial situation. For students going down this route, it would be highly beneficial to pick up a part-time role in a position related to your industry. This will help refine your skills and increase your employability within this career role should you choose to pursue it after your degree.

If you’re an international student, keep in mind that you’ll likely be on a study visa. Therefore, there’ll be certain restrictions on what you can and can’t do alongside your study.

How Does This Compare to the Fees in Other Countries?

When considering the tuition fee of PhDs across different countries, the United Kingdom is generally considered as being in the ‘middle-ground‘ region.

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A handful of countries offer PhD programmes for free. These include, but are not limited to, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Norway and Poland.

The middle-ground region comprises countries such as Austria, Spain, Russia and New Zealand where postgraduate fees range from £1,400 to £4,000 per academic year.

The upper-end region comprises countries such as Hong Kong and the United States, where postgraduate tuition fees for a PhD student can go up to £33,000 per year.

FAQs

How much does a UK PhD cost? ›

Tuition fees vary, but usually fall between £3,000 and £6,000 per year for UK students and those from the European Union (EU) with settled status. UK Research Councils pay universities £4,596 per year (from 2022/23) on behalf of each funded PhD student, so this gives a good indication of the average figure.

Is it hard to get a fully funded PhD in UK? ›

In general, it's fairly difficult to get a funded PhD position in the UK, if you're an international student.

Is a PhD worth it UK? ›

Data suggests that PhD students are very employable, with the majority finding work or going on to further training (such as a 'PostDoc') after graduation. As you can see from the table below, a PhD can certainly make a difference to your employment prospects when compared with a taught Masters qualification.

Do you have to pay tuition for PhD UK? ›

Home students beginning their PhD in September 2022 (or later) will be charged the following tuition fees: £4,596 for full-time research degrees. £2,298 for part-time research degrees.

How do people afford PHDS UK? ›

The UK offers a PhD loan of up to £27,892. Some banks and other private lenders also offer commercial loans for postgraduate study. Universities usually have funding of their own to offer potential PhD students. This might take the form of a small fee discount (often for alumni) or limited grant for living costs.

Is PhD program free in UK? ›

Funding and researching a PhD can be expensive, with EU students paying up to £6,000 per year, and international students more.

Which country is best for fully funded PhD? ›

Finland. Finland is another Nordic country which tops our list of cheapest countries to study a PhD for international students. Like Norway and Sweden, pursuing a PhD is completely free in Finland, even for non-citizens. Finland is home to two top 150 universities, according to QS.

How tough is PhD in UK? ›

The hardest part is getting in. British PhDs go straight into research and there are only a very limited number of scholarships available (mostly funded by the research councils, although some universities have a few of their own), so they only admit people who are ready to go straight into doing research.

How can I afford a full time PhD? ›

PhD FINANCIAL AID OPTIONS. Prospective PhD candidates have an abundance of financial aid options to help fund their graduate studies. Typically, students are fully funded by a combination of sources, including scholarships, fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or student loans.

Can I do a PhD in 2 years UK? ›

It takes three or four years for most PhD students in the UK to complete a PhD, although the median period of time it takes students to take their PhD in the US is 5.8 years. What university awards the doctorate would also rely on it.

Can you settle in UK after PhD? ›

The Graduate Route is a new UK post-study work visa option being introduced for international students who complete a doctorate after 1 July 2021. It will allow you to remain in the UK for up to three years after your PhD. This option will replace the Doctorate Extension scheme for new PhD students starting in 2020-21.

Which PhD is most in demand? ›

#1 – PhD in Chemical Engineering

In recent years, chemical engineering has been recognized as the best doctoral degree by salary-offering steady job growth and high early career and mid-career salaries. Chemical engineers often work in biotechnology and business services as researchers.

Can I do a PhD without funding? ›

Doing a full-time PhD with no funding is extremely hard, but not impossible. Although I did apply for a scholarship in my first year, I didn't get it. I also couldn't get a student loan in my home country because the banks rejected an idea of funding something which is down abroad.

Is PhD paid in UK for international students? ›

Tax-Free Stipend: The average stipend for PhD in UK for international students is around 25,000-30,200 GBP. The PhD stipends and studentships are tax-free which means students are given the full amount that they earn as their monthly stipend.

How many years is PhD in UK? ›

A full-time PhD in the UK usually takes between three and four years, while a part-time project typically lasts between five and six years. Increasingly, the type of programme you're enrolled in can also affect the duration of your doctorate degree.

How many hours can a PhD Student work in UK? ›

Students studying for a PhD

You are eligible to work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week whilst studying. The hours cannot be averaged out, and all hours worked, regardless of employer, type of contract or paid/unpaid are combined together for the weekly limit.

Does a PhD increase your salary UK? ›

Looking again at the Graduate Outcomes survey from HESA, it does seem that PhD holders are more likely to enjoy higher earnings than people with a Masters degree. As you can see in the table below, those with a PhD are more likely to earn more than £30,000 per year than their Masters counterparts.

Does a PhD boost your salary? ›

In addition to commanding a higher salary, you can also look forward to being in greater demand. Completing a PhD doesn't just demonstrate that you possess specialized knowledge, it is also a sought-after qualification.

In which country PhD is free? ›

In Finland, pursuing a PhD is entirely free, even for those who are not citizens, similar to Norway and Sweden. According to QS, Finland is home to two of the top 150 institutions. This includes the 106th-ranked University of Helsinki and the 116th-ranked Aalto University.

Is PhD free in UK for international students? ›

Cost of PhD in UK

On the other hand, the cost is higher for international students and lies in the range of £16,000 to £24,000 per annum. Apart from the cost of tuition, students also have to bear the cost of living in UK. The average cost of living in the UK can be around £1100 - £1300 per month.

Is PhD at Oxford free? ›

Funding for graduate courses is competitive, but the University of Oxford offers more support than you might think. For example, for the 2021-22 academic year, just over 49% of our new graduate students received full or partial funding from the University or other funders.

Which country is easiest to get PhD scholarship? ›

China. The most famous grant of China is provided by the government of China and fully covers not only study, but also accommodation. It's called The Grant of the PRC and includes a monthly scholarship of $500-600 is paid to the student.

Which country pays highest salary to PhD students? ›

Four countries with the highest PhD stipend
  • Norway. Average PhD stipend (per annum): US54,935 US dollars. ...
  • Denmark. Average PhD stipend (per annum): US$54,636. ...
  • Switzerland. Average PhD stipend (per annum): US$53,434. ...
  • Finland. ...
  • 4 highest paying degrees for int'l students in the US. ...
  • 4 highest-paying computer science jobs.
24 Aug 2022

How much money is required for PhD? ›

The average fee for Part Time PhD is around INR 2,00,000 to INR 7,00,000.

Which PhD is most in demand UK? ›

  • PhD Programme in Applied Transpersonal Psychology. Featured. ...
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by Research in Anthropology. Featured. ...
  • PhD Computer Science. Featured. ...
  • PhD Education. Featured. ...
  • PhD Electrical & Electronic Engineering. Featured. ...
  • PhD Finance. Featured. ...
  • PhD Management. Featured. ...
  • PhD Mechanical Engineering. Featured.

What is the easiest PhD to get? ›

Easiest Ph.

Generally, education, humanities, and the social sciences are considered the easiest fields in which to pursue degrees.

Is a PhD worth it financially? ›

Having a PhD is worth almost $17k more per year than someone with the same amount of experience.
...
Regression Analysis.
95% Confidence Intervals
PhD$11,500$22,300
Manager$7,600$14,600
3 more rows

How much do PhD students get paid in UK? ›

In the UK, PhD students can receive a stipend which varies between £15,000 and £18,000 per annum. As part of the studentship your stipend is provided under, your tuition fees will also be paid for.

How many hours should a PhD student study per day? ›

How many hours of study is a PhD? As a general rule, you should expect a full-time PhD to account for 35 hours of work a week – the equivalent of a full-time, 9-5 job. It's likely that during especially busy periods – such as when you're writing up – you may work considerably longer hours.

Does every PhD students get paid? ›

plus a 'basic stipend' for the full (expected) duration of their studies. A stipend is essentially a basic (taxable) payment that is given to a student twice a year (once every semester). Typically, it is not a large amount of money; but it is intended to cover the minimum basic living costs during your study.

How many hours do PhD students study? ›

How many hours do PhD students work? Many PhD students have about 40 hours a week of reading and classwork, plus around 20 hours a week of assistantship or lab time. And that's minimum. You may also be teaching while you're doing your dissertation.

Can I get a PhD without a dissertation? ›

Not always. In the past a dissertation was required for a PhD, but a growing number of institutions have started to offer online doctoral programs no dissertation. Instead, students may complete a capstone project to demonstrate their knowledge and provide new contributions to the field.

Can I do PhD without Masters in UK? ›

In the UK, you might be able to apply for a PhD programme if you have a 2:2 aka Honours Bachelor's of Science. Some higher education institutions, like the University of Liverpool, for example, even allow you to enrol in a PhD course without requiring a Master's degree.

Can a PhD Student get UK citizenship? ›

Can I get a British citizenship as an international student in UK? No. There are no specific law regulations that make you eligible to seek British citizenship as an international student. Your student visa doesn't allow you to change your civil status as a regular resident of UK.

Is PhD better in UK or USA? ›

It takes longer to complete a PhD in the US

Probably the best-known difference is the time it takes to complete a PhD. UK PhD programs tend towards three years in length, although it's increasingly getting closer to four years – a trend that might soon be reflected in funding arrangements.

Can I work in UK while doing PhD? ›

Provided you are pursuing a full-time PhD in the UK, you may work alongside your project or programme, provided you do not: work for more than 20 hours per week, except during any vacations or in the case of an agreed work placement or internship (see below).

Which PhD is the hardest? ›

Top 10 hardest PhD Degrees to Earn
  • Boarded Medical Doctor: After spending about eight years to earn your first degree, you are faced with between three and six years of residency. ...
  • PhD in Mathematics: You can't imagine the equations that were solved to gain a higher education degree in mathematics, not to talk of a PhD.

Which PhD has highest salary? ›

25 Highest Paying Doctorate Degrees
  • Immunology.
  • Physics.
  • Aerospace Engineering.
  • Math.
  • Management.
  • Chemical Engineering.
  • Economics.
  • Pharmacology.
28 Oct 2022

Is a PhD worth it in 2022? ›

For students who are ready to turn an intellectual passion into a life-long intellectual pursuit, advancing from a masters and getting a PhD from an accredited institution is worth it for many students. In fact, you may even want to consider an online PhD program.

Can I do PhD by myself? ›

Yes it is possible, there was an English researcher/physicist who became physics professor directly, skipping both the Diploma and degree process as he would spend a lot of time in the library and had so much knowledge. He didn't even do the phD. It was a century ago so this was possible.

Can you complete a PhD without a Masters? ›

Whilst some undergraduate degrees still lead to a Master's qualification, and many people still complete Master degrees, it is possible to do a PhD without a Masters degree.

How competitive are PhD programs UK? ›

About 1/3 of applicants get an offer and about 1/4 applicants start the PhD (the difference presumably fail to make their grades or take another offer). This is much higher than undergrad, where a low estimate would be 1/10 get an offer.

How many years visa does UK give for PhD students? ›

A Graduate visa gives you permission to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing a course in the UK. You must be in the UK when you apply.

Are PhD in UK fully funded? ›

While many of us are interested in pursuing a PhD program in the UK, the fees for the program could add tremendous stress. But fret not; there are many fully-funded PhD programs in the UK for international students that make higher education affordable.

How old are PhD students UK? ›

The average age of a PhD student in the UK is usually someone in their 30s. PhD's expect their students to have a Master's and undergraduate degree which take some time to complete.

Why is PhD not funded in UK? ›

As it sees its job to educate British people, it would usually only pay for the PhD education of British people - it is other people's governments' job to pay for the education of their own people.

How much does a PhD cost on average? ›

The average cost of a Doctorate degree is $114,300. A Doctorate of Education may cost on average $111,900. The average cost of a Doctorate of Philosophy or Ph. D. is $98,800.
...
Cost Varies.
UniversityIn-State Annual TuitionOut-of-State Annual Tuition
University of Massachusetts Amherst$17,014$35,772
4 more rows
11 Oct 2021

Can a PhD student get UK citizenship? ›

Can I get a British citizenship as an international student in UK? No. There are no specific law regulations that make you eligible to seek British citizenship as an international student. Your student visa doesn't allow you to change your civil status as a regular resident of UK.

Which is the cheapest country to study PhD? ›

Finland. Finland is another Nordic country which tops our list of cheapest countries to study a PhD for international students. Like Norway and Sweden, pursuing a PhD is completely free in Finland, even for non-citizens. Finland is home to two top 150 universities, according to QS.

Is PhD cheaper than masters? ›

In other words, yes, it's often cheaper to do a PhD than a Masters. Caveats apply: it's possible you may not be offered funding (in which case a PhD is also more expensive).

Is paying for PhD worth it? ›

Research also suggests that people with doctorate degrees are less likely to have their employment impacted by recession. Whether you're driven by personal passions, academic ambitions, financial goals or a combination of all these reasons to pursue a PhD, the evidence is strong: a PhD is worth it.

How do people afford a PhD? ›

PhD FINANCIAL AID OPTIONS. Prospective PhD candidates have an abundance of financial aid options to help fund their graduate studies. Typically, students are fully funded by a combination of sources, including scholarships, fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or student loans.

Can you finish a PhD in 2 years UK? ›

Most PhD students in the UK take three to four years to complete a PhD, while in the US the median amount of time it takes students to complete their doctorate is 5.8 years. It will also depend on which university awards the doctorate.

Is PhD difficult in UK? ›

The hardest part is getting in. British PhDs go straight into research and there are only a very limited number of scholarships available (mostly funded by the research councils, although some universities have a few of their own), so they only admit people who are ready to go straight into doing research.

Can I work while doing PhD in UK? ›

Provided you are pursuing a full-time PhD in the UK, you may work alongside your project or programme, provided you do not: work for more than 20 hours per week, except during any vacations or in the case of an agreed work placement or internship (see below).

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