6 Ways You Can Fund Your PhD | Top Universities

6 Ways You Can Fund Your PhD

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Stephanie Lukins

Updated May 28, 2023



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Studying a PhD is an exciting and extremely rewarding venture. Whether it’s for personal development, professional development, or both, a PhD can have a life-changing impact, but it also comes with its own challenges. However, thinking of ways to fund it, shouldn’t be one of them.

Some PhD students consider taking on part-time work, but after dedicating 40 hours a week to studies, you’ll want to relax, socialize and have some time away from the library and books to clear your mind, instead. Even though there’s no right or wrong way to go about funding a PhD, it does pay to be realistic and well-informed, so make sure you do your research first to find the best way for you.

Crowdfunding, employer funding and postgraduate loans are just some of the popular ways to help fund PhD studies, in addition to studentships and research council grants, which, in the world of academia, are sometimes considered ‘the golden ticket’. Read on to discover more ways you can fund a PhD.

Research council grant

Research council grants should be your first port of call when seeking any form of PhD funding if you’re from the UK or EU. They’re non-repayable, and normally cover your three or four years of studying. Depending on the study program, and academic performance, the ESRC DTP Studentships offered at LSE can cover either three or four years of your five or six-year PhD program.

The PhD Academy based in LSE’s library building, is a dedicated innovative hub space for PhD students to socialize and study. It’s also home to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) where PhD students at LSE are offered additional academic professional development and training.

Postgraduate loan

Recently introduced for the 2018-19 academic year for UK nationals, and EU national students who reside in the UK, the PhD postgraduate loan is worth up to £25,000 (~US$32,467). Much like a master’s loan, you can borrow any amount up to £25,000, regardless of your financial background.

Employer sponsorship

If you’re able to show your employer that studying a PhD will not just benefit you, but them and the company as well, they may offer you some form of employer sponsorship. To help make your case as strong as possible, you should outline what you plan to study, how long for, the cost, and above all else, exactly why you want to study a PhD and the impact it will have on your employer. This demonstrates your commitment and understanding of what you’re asking your employer to do for you, as well as what you’ll be doing for them. 


A studentship is the name most commonly used for PhD scholarships. They’re a popular form of funding for PhD students across the world, supporting students from any country, with many universities offering a number of studentships to help ease the financial pressure.

Traditionally, studentships are more common in science, technology, engineering and medicine subjects (STEM). However, PhD students at London School of Economics (LSE), have the chance to be awarded one of around 100 studentships, from its LSE PhD Studentships and LSE ESRC DTP Studentships.

For some students, receiving a PhD Studentship is the difference between being able to pursue a PhD, or not. Katherine Furman, a current MPhil/PhD Philosophy student at LSE was awarded the LSE PhD Studentship. She told us: "I received an LSE PhD Studentship, which covers both my tuition and living expenses. It was a huge honor to receive funding from such a prestigious institution and without this support it would have been impossible for me to pursue my PhD."

Tamlyn Monson, a Sociology PhD graduate at LSE, told us of how a studentship helped her: “The LSE PhD Scholarship gave me the freedom to fully concentrate on the demanding final stage of my graduate study.”

The PhD Studentships offered at LSE, cover full fees, with an annual stipend of £18,000.


Asking your family and friends, and even strangers to help support your PhD studies may feel a little extreme, but you shouldn’t rule it out. You’ll need to be able to market yourself well, and explain why people should part with their money to help fund something that benefits you.  


If you know where to look, certain charities may help provide funding for your PhD. Although these organizations are unlikely to be able to cover everything, you can combine multiple sources of funds from charities, and incorporate it into what’s known as ‘portfolio funding’. Students at LSE can access the ‘Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding Online’ database for free, which helps source alternative funding opportunities (especially from charities).

Discover more studentships on offer at LSE

As well as PhD Studentships and LSE ESRC DTP Studentships, there’s also department-specific funding available at LSE. Eligibility and application processes can vary widely, so it’s best to check with each individual program to be sure.

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