PhD , Masters and other postgraduate funding: Employer Funding and Sponsorship

If you are considering postgraduate study that is in any way related to your job, it is worth researching funding schemes your employer may have, and/or approaching your HR Department, Training Department or line manager.

Formal schemes that fund or otherwise support employees wishing to undertake postgraduate courses via part time study are more likely to exist within larger employers and to be linked closely either to the requirements of individual jobs or to the area in which the company or organisation operates. These schemes are also more likely to include some sort of 'tie-in' clause requiring you to work for the company for a period of time following completion of the course: they may also have penalty clauses requiring you to pay back all or some of the fees if you leave before the end of the designated period. Schemes may require you to study only on designated courses or at specific institutions. Staff in many HEIs may find that fees are waived or substantially discounted for courses run by their own institution.

In smaller companies or those without a formal scheme, funding may well be less likely, but unless the company is doing particularly badly and redundancies or lay-offs are occurring, it is likely to be worth asking your employer what could be available. Before you approach them, you may like to consider how the course you wish to take could benefit your employer, and why they might feel it would be useful to fund you. If you present your case predominantly in terms of what you (rather than they) want to get out of it or how you yourself are likely to benefit, you are much less likely to meet with a favourable response, however laudable and reasonable your aims for self-development may be.

Organisations that cannot support you in terms of money may allow you some study leave, although you will need to check whether this is paid or unpaid (more likely) and how much study leave you can take on this basis. If it is unpaid you should also check what effect this could have on your status as an employee, particularly if you effectively become a part-time employee if for example you take study leave over a long period on a regular basis such as one day per week.

Policies will vary so it is always best to check with your employer before committing yourself to a course of study, particularly if you are hoping for support in terms of money or time from them.