Is it a bad year to be doing an unfunded degree?


I need some advice/encouraging words!

I'm accepted on a course for an MSc and the fees are... enough to purchase a nice small new car... I'm starting to wonder if I've made such a good choice. It's giving me anxiety attacks.
I've friends who've applied to funded phd positions saying they didnt want to work and didnt want to waste a year paying to be taught... Help?!

I went into this knowing exactly why: I needed to expand on my current degree and start to specialise more in this topic with the masters, i wanted the extra lab experience, the general graduate experience that a masters provides, and a year to commit myself to a career in Neuroscience, research and academia...

But that all seems to pale when I look at my bank balance and the fact that I will have to pay to learn, wont have the support of a student loan and also wont be able to work!! Especially when people talk about the economy! Oh god.

Ive been searching and searching for sources of funding but the scholarships are aimed at overseas students and people who've applied for the hardship grants that I'm not eligible for. Should I voice my concerns to the department/uni I'm joining?


Have you talked to the department about funding/scholarship opportunities? They might have some research council grants, scholarship or hardship funds once you get there that you haven't seen advertised. You're right that a lot of the advertised scholarships at first sight seem to be aimed at particular groups or overseas students. You can also apply for a Learning Development loan or something? I can't remember if its a Government or a bank loan, but there's been loads of discussion on this forum about them - perhaps someone can remember?!

The cost is one reason why I did a PhD without a Masters, but I wish I had - the training in research, writing, and the general increase in outlook and maturity is well worth it, and will stand you in good stead for a PhD or future work. I hope that helps.


It's career development loan I think. Don't know whether they apply to masters or not.

From my masters experience you can work at the same time. I was full time employed, part time masters. There were people who were full time masters who left their jobs to do it, but soon got a new one when they realised they would have time to work too. Of course all depends on the course etc.

Imo it's not so much money to get in debt for, and people get in debt for all sorts of pointless things most of the time. Where would a nice small new car get you? (not literally ;-)) Whereas doing an MSc, well you have that forever, and it can lead you places. Of course it also depends on whether that matters to you. But if it does, it's a pretty sound, and in the whole scheme of things, not huge investment.


I know... A masters is a lifelong gain but you can understand why I'm freaking out can't you? I think this must just be the calming down from my initial "WOOHOO acceptance!" that lasted an entire week.


Oh totally!

My 4 month-ish road from hearing about the possibility of a PhD to finally making the decision was an absolute emotional rollercoaster. Tears, euphoria the lot! I also had to make the decision of giving up a pretty well paid job to do it, so although I don't have any debt from it, I've taken a bit of a financial risk. If I can get a job at the end of it, I could end up in debt, but hey ho.

But, really I think you should go for what feels right, and forget the money. I think at the moment it seems worse, as all the discourse is economic doom and gloom, but really I think they go over the top.



I'm doing an MA and I was lucky enough to get a scholarship directly from university to cover tuition fees. My university did have a few scholarship options available that weren't just for international students or "hardship grants" which I wouldn't have been eligable for. It would be worth speaking to the student services department (or your faculty directly) to see if there is something available.

My friend is doing the same course as me but was unable to secure any funding from the university. She went to a bank directly and got a loan. I think it was a career development loan actually. We're both doing the MA full time but my friend also works part time to support herself. Obviously different people have different circumstances but I agree with Alice that there are worse things to be in debt from.

Whatever you do just make this year count. (This is something I'm telling myself everyday!) It'll all be worth it when you have that extra qualification that makes you stand out.

All the best