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Funding a PhD

Learn about the different types of funding and explore the opportunities available

There are several ways researchers can fund their PhD. As pursuing a PhD can be expensive, many opt for scholarships, fellowships and studentships to fully or partially fund their degree. Navigating this area can be tricky, so we have prepared some information for you to help you understand the differences between the types of funding available and where you can find these opportunities. 

How do the different types of funding work?

Different organisations may have different meanings for these terms, but there are a few general characteristics that distinguish the different funding opportunities. 


A PhD scholarship awards an amount of money to an individual student to help them pay for the costs associated with completing their degree, like school fees and living expenses, but does not include stipends. Scholarships are usually based on merit and are sometimes need-based, meaning that eligibility for the scholarship depends on the financial situation of the student.


Fellowships can last from a few weeks to a few years and are often sponsored by a specific association, organization, institution, or government. But a common misconception is that fellowships always come with financial aid. Fellowships are usually awarded for doctoral research based in a specific specialised area and offer students opportunities to strengthen their resumes. They are merit-based, but often not need-based like scholarships. 


Another avenue of gaining funding is securing a studentship. While both scholarships and studentships provide funding for PhD students to cover the fees and living costs, the main difference is that a studentship involves work on a specific research project. A studentship is also sometimes referred to as a teaching or research assistantship. Some examples of PhD studentships include those offered by the UK's Research Councils, where the studentship funding is tied to the PhD student’s project. They are either linked to advertised PhD opportunities or awarded to students for the projects they propose.

What are some of the opportunities available?

There are many funding opportunities available. We gathered some of the key funding opportunities in the EU and UK. Each opportunity has its individual eligibility criteria, so it is advisable to look through them in detail. Requirements also might change over time, so make sure you always check the official sites. 

Funding opportunities for those in the UK, Italy and France have been detailed above. Opportunities in other countries include: