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Where to find Funding for a PhD

| May 31, 2013

Qualifying for PhD funding depends on several factors. If you are a student from the UK, there are various funded PhD projects that you can apply for. Alternatively, you can apply for scholarships and research grants to help you pursue your doctorate degree. You can also fund your own PhD studies; however, you must provide evidence that you are financially capable of completing the PhD successfully.[1] For funding your own studies, you may work as a research assistant or be a university lecturer. [2]If you are able to successfully secure a place in a fully-funded PhD programme, your postgraduate research award (also known as a studentship or fellowship) will be assigned to you directly by your university. However, if your acceptance for a PhD is conditional on securing funding, you will need to apply for other means of funding such as a research council, scholarship, or other funding bodies.[3]

Where to find Funding for a PhDMost universities also offer financial help to PhD applicants. These include free or discounted tuition fees, scholarships, stipends and/or other allowances. This is a way to attract outstanding students to enter their PhD programme. Full or partial sponsorship for doctoral research is also available through government and privately sponsored scholarships, educational foundations, professional bodies or employers. The university provides a list of approved scholarships and research grants from external sources. As a potential PhD student, it is your responsibility to explore all possible funding sources for your research.

In many cases, winning a place at a university to study for a PhD and securing funding for that PhD is not always the same thing. This is especially true for doctorates in the Arts and Humanities. Two distinct application procedures must be completed – the first to the university and the second to a research council, scholarship, or other funding bodies. Competition for postgraduate funding awards is extremely fierce. You must ensure that evaluators do not see any reason to reject your application.[4]

Securing funding for a doctorate in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is often more difficult than in the sciences and engineering programmes. There are only a few advertised posts for doctorates in the Arts and Humanities. Most of the time, candidates need to decide what areas of research interest them and then find a supervisor who shares the same interest. With the help of the supervisor, the candidate needs to define a research proposal, which is both novel and achievable as a PhD project. Once this is completed, the candidate can apply for funding.[5]

For UK citizens, there are two major research councils which are responsible for funding majority of arts and humanities PhDs. These are the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). PhD candidates can submit their application directly to a research council and convince the council to provide funding for their research.[6] Funding provided by government based research councils or the European Social Fund includes tuition fee and an annual stipend. Students who are pursuing scientific research get higher pay.[7]

If you are an international student wishing to study at the UK, the British Council in your home country will be able to help you. There are also various grant-awarding bodies in your own country which can provide funding for your doctorate studies. You can also search for international research grants or scholarships from educational foundations.[8]

In general, international students do not qualify for UK Research Council funding. Most of the time, you may be required to submit your own research proposal to a funding body. You may also check out the British Council office in your country or visit its website for funding sources. The British Council manages a small number of international studentships in some countries. They should also be able to provide information on research awards that may be available.[9]



[1] Find A PhD. (2013). PhD Study: PhDs explained & FAQs. Available: http://www.findaphd.com/student/study/study-1.asp. Last accessed 28th Mar 2013.

[2] IndoBase Study Abroad. (2012). PhD in UK. Available:  http://www.indobase.com/study-abroad/countries/uk/phd-in-uk.html. Last accessed 28th Mar 2013.

[3] Find a PhD (2013). PhD Study: PhD study in the art and humanities. Available: http://www.findaphd.com/student/study/study-3.asp. Last accessed 28th Mar 2013.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] IndoBase Study Abroad. (2012). PhD in UK. Available:  http://www.indobase.com/study-abroad/countries/uk/phd-in-uk.html. Last accessed 28th Mar 2013.

[8] Find a PhD. (2013). PhD Funding: Overview. Available: http://www.findaphd.com/student/funding/funding-1.asp. Last accessed 28th Mar 2013.

[9] Ibid.

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Category: Phd Writing