How to finance your master's degree: everything you need to know

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There’s a lot to weigh-up when deciding whether postgraduate study is right for you , including how much further study will cost, and what options you have for financing it. We’ve broken down what options are available to help you figure that out.

An investment for your future

Further study is one of the best ways to future-proof your skillset and expand your career opportunities. So, while postgraduate study has costs, it’s also an investment that will pay off in the long term, with UNSW’s postgraduate alumni being the highest earning graduates in Australia*.  As part of a community renowned for employability, your postgrad degree can help your CV stand out in a crowd.

So, how much does postgraduate study actually cost? 

All UNSW’s postgraduate programs and degrees have tuition fees and costs involved, and the total cost of study will vary depending on a number of factors. Whatever program you choose, there are options available to help you financially. Whether it’s reducing the overall cost through a subsidised Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP), employer support, credit transfer, or deferring payment through a loan, we’ve broken down all the ways to make your postgraduate study more affordable.

You can use our Degree Finder tool to find out the estimated cost of the postgraduate programs you’re interested in - simply search your degree and click the ‘fees and scholarships’ tab.

Explore Degree Finder


Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs)

A CSP is a spot at a university or higher education provider for a domestic student that's subsidised by the Australian Government. If you studied an undergraduate degree as a domestic student, chances are that you had one of these places. While CSPs are less common in postgraduate programs, they’re a great way to reduce the overall cost of your degree.

If CSPs aren’t available in the program you want to study, or you’re not eligible, your place in the program will be classified as ‘full-fee paying’. But full-fee paying doesn’t mean you need to pay it all up front.

Find out more about CSPs



FEE-HELP loans are one option available to domestic students who don’t have their courses subsidised through a CSP. FEE-HELP is a higher education loan program provided by the Australian Government. The program helps fee-paying postgraduate students cover the upfront costs of all or part of their tuition fees.

Compulsory repayments of the FEE-HELP debt will be deducted from your income by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) once you start earning above the repayment threshold. You can also make voluntary repayments at any time.

Find out more about FEE-HELP


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Do you already have experience in the discipline you want to study? You can apply to have previous study recognised, and the credit transferred to your current degree program at UNSW. Credit transfer is also known as 'advanced standing' or ‘recognition of prior learning’ (RPL). RPL will reduce the total cost of your study by reducing the number of individual courses you are charged tuition fees for.

For certain postgraduate programs, professional experience in the discipline may also be recognised.

Find out more about RPL


Professional development

One of the key benefits of postgraduate study is career advancement. Many employers recognise this, meaning they may be willing to pay some, or all of your study costs. Here are our tips for pitching that arrangement to your employer:  

  • Pre-prepare your case. Research the program you want to study and have a clear understanding the ways it will help you upskill. We’d recommend establishing links between the content of the degree you want to study, and how it will facilitate career advancement.  
  • Outline the benefits to your employerOnce you’re clear on the points above, it’s time to present a clear case to your boss. This means you need to understand how your studies will be of advantage to the organisation you work for. Creating a written list of these benefits can help you articulate them.
  • Be 100% sure. If your employer does agree to fund your study, it’s likely they’ll ask you for a contractual commitment. If this is the case, you make sure you’re prepared to commit to completing the program.

Alternatively, if your degree relates directly to your job, you may also be able to claim your tuition fees and other study expenses on tax. You can find out more about this process, and whether you’re eligible through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

While postgraduate study can seem like a big financial decision, all the methods outlined above can help reduce the overall and upfront costs. When considered alongside the potential benefits to your employability, career acceleration and salary growth, upskilling through further study can be a tangible investment in the future career you want.