How to fund PhD at York if I don't get a (very competitive) scholarship?

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nicklouise
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Hi, I've been looking into doing a PhD in the CMS department of Uni of York. I would be applying in 2022 to hopefully start October 2023 (I'm currently doing my MA abroad which would be finishing summer 2022). I'm really stuck on how to fund it. At York, there are approximately 50 scholarships available, 48 through the research council (split between all arts and humanities PhD students between York, Sheffield, and Leeds, and they say they get 300-350 applicants for their 48 places), and 2-3 more through the Wolfson scholarship. I would have to apply to both of these after receiving my PhD offer from York. If I didn't get one, it seems my only option is the UK gov loan, which is only £26,000 for what would be a 3-4 year degree at over £4k a year tuition. Leaving me with 10-14k to live on for 3-4 years. I would have to take out bank loans to afford to live, or get a job which seems like a hell of a lot to balance on top of a full-time PhD. I'll be getting a job in my year off after my MA but in order to actually save anything I'll have to live with my mum which is not in area with high-paying jobs at all. I don't want to have a break of longer than a year before PhD either. So if I don't get one of those scholarships (which do cover tuition and a stipend that is enough to live on) I suppose I would have to withdraw from the PhD even after being accepted. Would this then hurt my chances if I wanted to apply for the same PhD and funding the following year to see if I could get accepted for funding that year? I can't find any other scholarships or sources of funding that would actually cover what I would need to live. This feels impossible. Any advice?
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University of York
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(Original post by nicklouise)
Hi, I've been looking into doing a PhD in the CMS department of Uni of York. I would be applying in 2022 to hopefully start October 2023 (I'm currently doing my MA abroad which would be finishing summer 2022). I'm really stuck on how to fund it. At York, there are approximately 50 scholarships available, 48 through the research council (split between all arts and humanities PhD students between York, Sheffield, and Leeds, and they say they get 300-350 applicants for their 48 places), and 2-3 more through the Wolfson scholarship. I would have to apply to both of these after receiving my PhD offer from York. If I didn't get one, it seems my only option is the UK gov loan, which is only £26,000 for what would be a 3-4 year degree at over £4k a year tuition. Leaving me with 10-14k to live on for 3-4 years. I would have to take out bank loans to afford to live, or get a job which seems like a hell of a lot to balance on top of a full-time PhD. I'll be getting a job in my year off after my MA but in order to actually save anything I'll have to live with my mum which is not in area with high-paying jobs at all. I don't want to have a break of longer than a year before PhD either. So if I don't get one of those scholarships (which do cover tuition and a stipend that is enough to live on) I suppose I would have to withdraw from the PhD even after being accepted. Would this then hurt my chances if I wanted to apply for the same PhD and funding the following year to see if I could get accepted for funding that year? I can't find any other scholarships or sources of funding that would actually cover what I would need to live. This feels impossible. Any advice?
Hi there,

In terms of hurting potential opportunities to reapply for the scholarship again the following academic year, should you be unsuccessful, the answer is no. You could reapply with a stronger application and learn from the aspects of the application/interview and selection process. And this determination is seen as a positive!

My advice for you is to have a chat with your prospective supervisor in Medieval Studies first, as they can often offer some support in applying for funding. Many students who apply for a PhD and aren't successful for a big scholarship are offered a non-funded place and funding opportunities arise in dept as and when. Many also work alongside study (this is very normal) working in dept, teaching, etc and can be beneficial for your CV.

I hope this helps! If you have any other questions or need any specific clarification, don't hesitate to let me know here or via DMs

And best of luck with your current MA studies!


Anastasia
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nicklouise
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(Original post by University of York)
Hi there,

In terms of hurting potential opportunities to reapply for the scholarship again the following academic year, should you be unsuccessful, the answer is no. You could reapply with a stronger application and learn from the aspects of the application/interview and selection process. And this determination is seen as a positive!

My advice for you is to have a chat with your prospective supervisor in Medieval Studies first, as they can often offer some support in applying for funding. Many students who apply for a PhD and aren't successful for a big scholarship are offered a non-funded place and funding opportunities arise in dept as and when. Many also work alongside study (this is very normal) working in dept, teaching, etc and can be beneficial for your CV.

I hope this helps! If you have any other questions or need any specific clarification, don't hesitate to let me know here or via DMs

And best of luck with your current MA studies!


Anastasia
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Hi, thanks for the reply!
That's good to know it wouldn't hurt my chances if I had to reapply. Mostly my worry would have been if I'd withdrawn from the PhD programme because of funding issues, and then reapplied the next year, would they not want to take the chance on me not getting funded again and offer to someone in a better financial position?
I guess my concern with accepting a non-funded place is committing myself when I don't know if I'll financially be able to finish. Without having a guaranteed income I'm not even sure if I'd be able to rent somewhere to live? Relying on possible funding opportunities that may or may not arise at some point later on sounds very stressful. If there were opportunities to work in teaching and the department I would be happy to take those because it's all beneficial and relevant even to the PhD but if nothing was available I would still worry that having a totally separate job would demand too much of me. If I really want to do it though I suppose I may not have any other choice.
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Helloworld_95
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Firstly, I'd say that 48/300-350 isn't as bad as it would immediately seem because most people will apply to 2-4 PhDs so that would translate to an overall success ratio of about 1 in 2 or 3.

The PhD loan isn't enough to support full time study and is more suitable for part time study or if you're being supported by someone e.g. living with your family or partner. However the AHRC is amenable to both 2 and 3 year scholarships (i.e. starting from year 1 or year 2) so you can consider using the PhD loan to start your PhD then hoping you get a 2 year scholarship, and if you don't get it then switch to an MPhil and apply for other funding opportunities elsewhere.

Refusing or backing out of a PhD offer because you haven't received funding is very normal, you won't be judged for that and you can certainly reapply. I would bear in mind that your potential supervisor may wish to focus on supporting another candidate if they are stronger.

I would avoid relying on any funding which doesn't come from the loan or scholarships.
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nicklouise
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
Firstly, I'd say that 48/300-350 isn't as bad as it would immediately seem because most people will apply to 2-4 PhDs so that would translate to an overall success ratio of about 1 in 2 or 3.

The PhD loan isn't enough to support full time study and is more suitable for part time study or if you're being supported by someone e.g. living with your family or partner. However the AHRC is amenable to both 2 and 3 year scholarships (i.e. starting from year 1 or year 2) so you can consider using the PhD loan to start your PhD then hoping you get a 2 year scholarship, and if you don't get it then switch to an MPhil and apply for other funding opportunities elsewhere.

Refusing or backing out of a PhD offer because you haven't received funding is very normal, you won't be judged for that and you can certainly reapply. I would bear in mind that your potential supervisor may wish to focus on supporting another candidate if they are stronger.

I would avoid relying on any funding which doesn't come from the loan or scholarships.
Thank you this is very helpful. The AHRC scholarship funding we can only apply for once we have an accepted offer though, so I would expect those 300-350 applicants to already have an offer at the point they apply for funding and thus not be considering other options, because they wouldn't be applying for funding if they had been rejected or had already been accepted at an alternative university.
I guess I could take the loan to start and then reapply for the AHRC scholarship during the course, never thought of that option, thank you for bringing that to light. I guess there's often a way for these things in the end even if it isn't clear cut from the start.
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mnot
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(Original post by nicklouise)
Hi, I've been looking into doing a PhD in the CMS department of Uni of York. I would be applying in 2022 to hopefully start October 2023 (I'm currently doing my MA abroad which would be finishing summer 2022). I'm really stuck on how to fund it. At York, there are approximately 50 scholarships available, 48 through the research council (split between all arts and humanities PhD students between York, Sheffield, and Leeds, and they say they get 300-350 applicants for their 48 places), and 2-3 more through the Wolfson scholarship. I would have to apply to both of these after receiving my PhD offer from York. If I didn't get one, it seems my only option is the UK gov loan, which is only £26,000 for what would be a 3-4 year degree at over £4k a year tuition. Leaving me with 10-14k to live on for 3-4 years. I would have to take out bank loans to afford to live, or get a job which seems like a hell of a lot to balance on top of a full-time PhD. I'll be getting a job in my year off after my MA but in order to actually save anything I'll have to live with my mum which is not in area with high-paying jobs at all. I don't want to have a break of longer than a year before PhD either. So if I don't get one of those scholarships (which do cover tuition and a stipend that is enough to live on) I suppose I would have to withdraw from the PhD even after being accepted. Would this then hurt my chances if I wanted to apply for the same PhD and funding the following year to see if I could get accepted for funding that year? I can't find any other scholarships or sources of funding that would actually cover what I would need to live. This feels impossible. Any advice?
Funding is normally the bigger hurdle.

Honestly I would go speak to the project supervisor, are there more scholarship opportunities, can they help advise more funding routes. See if you can find a couple different doctoral scholarships you can cue up if this doesn’t work out.

I personally don’t think the loan route is a great option for normal people as assuming you also have an SFE undergrad &/or masters loan your loading up lots of different debts to repay.

As for the numbers game, I think what Helloworld is getting at is that all these accepted unfunded PhDs are likely also putting their eggs in a couple different baskets which if you do the same increases your chances of funding and that the reality of funding/place isnt quite as extreme due to this.
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nicklouise
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Hi thanks for the reply. I’ve looked around for almost everything I can find but there doesn’t seem to be any other scholarships available if I did this specific PhD at York. I definitely will be asking my potential supervisor(s) about it when I start reaching out to them next year though and maybe there’s other opportunities I haven’t been able to find. I definitely would prefer to avoid the loan route (though I luckily do not have SFE loans from my BA or MA, this would be the first. Complicated financial reasons for that but not something that can help me out with this unfortunately), but it might be something I have to consider. Ah I see what you mean now about the numbers. I guess I figured if people got an offer for a place they would then focus on that before funding was confirmed but maybe not. The issue for me with Medieval Studies is there’s quite limited places that offer a PhD in it. I have also considered Cambridge though, I know they do tend to fund about 75% of their PhDs themselves, which is a fairly positive outlook. I would prefer to live in the north and would assume Cambridge is a bit harder to actually get the PhD spot in the first place which is why I was very focused on York but I guess it is better to have a couple options open still. Thanks for the help.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by nicklouise)
Hi thanks for the reply. I’ve looked around for almost everything I can find but there doesn’t seem to be any other scholarships available if I did this specific PhD at York. I definitely will be asking my potential supervisor(s) about it when I start reaching out to them next year though and maybe there’s other opportunities I haven’t been able to find. I definitely would prefer to avoid the loan route (though I luckily do not have SFE loans from my BA or MA, this would be the first. Complicated financial reasons for that but not something that can help me out with this unfortunately), but it might be something I have to consider. Ah I see what you mean now about the numbers. I guess I figured if people got an offer for a place they would then focus on that before funding was confirmed but maybe not. The issue for me with Medieval Studies is there’s quite limited places that offer a PhD in it. I have also considered Cambridge though, I know they do tend to fund about 75% of their PhDs themselves, which is a fairly positive outlook. I would prefer to live in the north and would assume Cambridge is a bit harder to actually get the PhD spot in the first place which is why I was very focused on York but I guess it is better to have a couple options open still. Thanks for the help.
Avoiding the loan route is perfectly reasonable for PhDs, I'd argue more so in your situation because you'll be going from the graduate tax not applying to you to having to pay it, whereas for people who have taken loans already it's unlikely to make a difference.

It's very common for people to "double dip" during PhD applications because of the funding issue. If you can let the supervisors know that's what you're doing they should be understanding of the situation because they will know that funding isn't guaranteed. Don't overdo it though, 2-3 total should be what you're aiming for.

Try not to be too specific with location as this will limit you significantly, it's not an ideal place to be in as an academic because it will limit your negotiating power and opportunities. As you get further on in your career it becomes more viable, but I would avoid it at PhD stage and ideally postdoc stage too.
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University of York
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(Original post by nicklouise)
Hi, thanks for the reply!
That's good to know it wouldn't hurt my chances if I had to reapply. Mostly my worry would have been if I'd withdrawn from the PhD programme because of funding issues, and then reapplied the next year, would they not want to take the chance on me not getting funded again and offer to someone in a better financial position?
I guess my concern with accepting a non-funded place is committing myself when I don't know if I'll financially be able to finish. Without having a guaranteed income I'm not even sure if I'd be able to rent somewhere to live? Relying on possible funding opportunities that may or may not arise at some point later on sounds very stressful. If there were opportunities to work in teaching and the department I would be happy to take those because it's all beneficial and relevant even to the PhD but if nothing was available I would still worry that having a totally separate job would demand too much of me. If I really want to do it though I suppose I may not have any other choice.
Hi @nicklouise,

No worries I think the best option for you would be to get in touch with Gillian Galloway ([email protected]). She can explain the application process in further detail if you explain your situation and may be able to offer advice about how students fund/self-fund their studies.

My colleague has given her a heads up that you will be in touch! Gillian and her colleagues would be the best people to speak to

I'd also say that there is always the option to defer if you get an offer but don't secure funding. Again, the CMS staff can advise you best, considering your situation.



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nicklouise
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(Original post by University of York)
Hi @nicklouise,

No worries I think the best option for you would be to get in touch with Gillian Galloway ([email protected]). She can explain the application process in further detail if you explain your situation and may be able to offer advice about how students fund/self-fund their studies.

My colleague has given her a heads up that you will be in touch! Gillian and her colleagues would be the best people to speak to

I'd also say that there is always the option to defer if you get an offer but don't secure funding. Again, the CMS staff can advise you best, considering your situation.



Anastasia
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I'm probably being a bit previous with this all tbh as like I say I wouldn't be applying until next summer/fall to start in October 2023. I just wanted to scope out what I could on the funding front as that has been the part that has been worrying me in making what plans I can. But I will get in touch with Gillian and see what she says for now!
Thanks so much for all the help!
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nicklouise
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
Avoiding the loan route is perfectly reasonable for PhDs, I'd argue more so in your situation because you'll be going from the graduate tax not applying to you to having to pay it, whereas for people who have taken loans already it's unlikely to make a difference.

It's very common for people to "double dip" during PhD applications because of the funding issue. If you can let the supervisors know that's what you're doing they should be understanding of the situation because they will know that funding isn't guaranteed. Don't overdo it though, 2-3 total should be what you're aiming for.

Try not to be too specific with location as this will limit you significantly, it's not an ideal place to be in as an academic because it will limit your negotiating power and opportunities. As you get further on in your career it becomes more viable, but I would avoid it at PhD stage and ideally postdoc stage too.
Yeah it probably is a bit unreasonable to focus on a location. It definitely wasn't the main focus of the choice as I do mostly just love the feel of the department at York from what I've seen. Medieval studies is limited enough as it is to care too much about where I live. The north was mostly a preference for cost of living to be honest. But I probably would have looked at 2-3 when I get more seriously planning my applications. I do want to ensure I have the best chance.
Thank you for all the help!
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StarLinyx
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(Original post by nicklouise)
Hi, I've been looking into doing a PhD in the CMS department of Uni of York. I would be applying in 2022 to hopefully start October 2023 (I'm currently doing my MA abroad which would be finishing summer 2022). I'm really stuck on how to fund it. At York, there are approximately 50 scholarships available, 48 through the research council (split between all arts and humanities PhD students between York, Sheffield, and Leeds, and they say they get 300-350 applicants for their 48 places), and 2-3 more through the Wolfson scholarship. I would have to apply to both of these after receiving my PhD offer from York. If I didn't get one, it seems my only option is the UK gov loan, which is only £26,000 for what would be a 3-4 year degree at over £4k a year tuition. Leaving me with 10-14k to live on for 3-4 years. I would have to take out bank loans to afford to live, or get a job which seems like a hell of a lot to balance on top of a full-time PhD. I'll be getting a job in my year off after my MA but in order to actually save anything I'll have to live with my mum which is not in area with high-paying jobs at all. I don't want to have a break of longer than a year before PhD either. So if I don't get one of those scholarships (which do cover tuition and a stipend that is enough to live on) I suppose I would have to withdraw from the PhD even after being accepted. Would this then hurt my chances if I wanted to apply for the same PhD and funding the following year to see if I could get accepted for funding that year? I can't find any other scholarships or sources of funding that would actually cover what I would need to live. This feels impossible. Any advice?
Why not work part-time, and study part-time? The doctoral loan will be about 27k from August 2021. Also, there is no need to do a PhD too early into your career if you are still under 25. I started mine in my 30s.
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nicklouise
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Honestly, I've just never liked the idea of part-time study. I feel like I would find it hard to keep a balance, and I would prefer to spend most of my time fully immersed in studying and the department and growing my academic career. I really don't like the idea of one degree taking me 6-8 years, I feel like there's not enough room for focus and too much room for distractions. I'm taking a one-year break from studying at the end of my MA to take a breather, and then I really just want to dive straight back in, because it's what I love.
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(Original post by nicklouise)
Honestly, I've just never liked the idea of part-time study. I feel like I would find it hard to keep a balance, and I would prefer to spend most of my time fully immersed in studying and the department and growing my academic career. I really don't like the idea of one degree taking me 6-8 years, I feel like there's not enough room for focus and too much room for distractions. I'm taking a one-year break from studying at the end of my MA to take a breather, and then I really just want to dive straight back in, because it's what I love.
Of course, ideally doing it fulltime is much better. But sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do to survive. I did mine part-time, whilst also working 1-2 days a week in security work (retail, corporate, events). For me the key was to stay in London.
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RedScot
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Late to this, and I know it’s not something you’re as worried about as you were in the OG post, but it’s also worth pointing out that if you don’t get funding the first year and don’t go through with starting the PhD you don’t have to reject your offer outright, you can accept it and defer it to the next year when you try for funding again (which my potential supervisor for a lit course in Scotland says is pretty common). Would mean you’re not having to worry about getting into the course again as well as the second attempt to get funded since you already have a space!
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nicklouise
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(Original post by RedScot)
Late to this, and I know it’s not something you’re as worried about as you were in the OG post, but it’s also worth pointing out that if you don’t get funding the first year and don’t go through with starting the PhD you don’t have to reject your offer outright, you can accept it and defer it to the next year when you try for funding again (which my potential supervisor for a lit course in Scotland says is pretty common). Would mean you’re not having to worry about getting into the course again as well as the second attempt to get funded since you already have a space!
A very good point, I forgot about deferring as I know you can't accept funding and then defer, so I did forget it would be an option if I didn't get the funding. Thanks!!
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