Postgraduate doctoral loans

Considering a research degree at the University of Sheffield? Loans are available to eligible doctoral students studying postgraduate research courses.


Key points

  • Non-means tested loans are available to home fee paying students studying postgraduate research courses
  • The loan can be used for fees or living costs
  • Students must be aged under 60 on the first day of their course to be eligible
  • Repayment of the loan will involve a single repayment of 6% above the income threshold (currently £21,000) to cover the combined balance of any postgraduate masters and postgraduate doctoral loans
  • The loan will be available to UK nationals, or individuals with settled status in the UK, who are ordinarily resident in England

Apply online at

Further information

How much can I borrow?

The loans will be up to £27,892 for courses starting on or after 1 August 2022 and are intended to be a contribution to the cost of doctoral study. The amount students can borrow depends on which year they started their course.

Course start date Maximum loan amount
On or after 1 August 2022 £27,892
Between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022 £27,265
Between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021 £26,445

Students can choose how much they borrow up to the maximum. The money can be used towards the cost of the course, whether on tuition, maintenance or any other costs associated with study.

How will the loans be paid out?

The total loan requested will be divided and paid each year of study. 

The Student Loans Company will then pay the yearly amount in three instalments. Each year's amount will be paid in instalments of 33%, 33% and 34%.

Can the loans be used to pay tuition fees in three instalments?

As part of the registration process students can decide to pay their fees in two or three instalments across the year.

Is there an age limit on the loans?

Students must be aged 59 or under on the first day of the first academic year of their course to be eligible for the loan. The academic year is the period of 12 months starting on 1 September, 1 January, 1 April or 1 July (depending on when your course starts).

Is there a maximum course length?

The government has decided that the loan will be available for doctoral programmes that last between 3 and 8 years in duration.

Which courses are eligible?

The loan will be available for all full-time and part-time Level 8 doctoral programmes of research, as recognised by QAA such as:

  • Subject specialist doctorates: a formal programme of study such as a PhD; Integrated subject specialist doctorates: a supervised research project undertaken alongside a more structured taught course, or may depend on successful completion of taught elements and be undertaken in later years
  • Integrated doctorates normally offer exit awards at masters level based on successful completion of taught modules (Students must register for the doctoral degree at the outset to be eligible for Postgraduate Doctoral Loan)
  • Professional and practice-based doctorates: post experience qualifications aimed at mid-career professionals, for example an Engineering Doctorate (EngD)
Are there any courses that aren't eligible?

Students whose course aim is a research qualification awarded primarily on the basis of published works will be excluded from the loans on the basis that they are not actively studying.

Higher Doctorates (beyond Level 8 QAA rating) will not be eligible for the loan.

Students in receipt of any Research Council studentships (full or fees only) or an NHS bursary for doctoral study are not eligible to take out doctoral loans.

Are PhD programmes that also award a masters qualification eligible?

As long as the stated exit qualification of your course is PhD-level then these programmes are still eligible.

Can students with a doctoral qualification get a doctoral loan?

No, students already holding an equivalent or higher level qualification will not be eligible for the loan. Qualifications obtained outside the UK will also be taken into account.

How will the repayments work?

The doctoral loan will be repaid as 6% of eligible income above the repayment threshold (currently set at £21,000). For students with an existing master's loan, the doctoral and master's loan will be treated as a single balance, subject to one combined repayment. 

Any outstanding balance on the doctoral loan will be written off 30 years after the loan becomes subject to repayment.

Students with a combination of undergraduate and postgraduate loans will face a maximum contribution of 15% above the income threshold.

When will applications for the loan open?

Applications are now open for students who live in England, Wales or the EU and will start their course in September 2019. The loans are administered by the Student Loans Company.

Apply online

Students from Wales: Apply online

If your course is not available on the application database, contact our Student Registration Team using

Are the loans for everyone in the UK and EU?

The loan will be available to UK nationals, or individuals with settled status in the UK, who are ordinarily resident in England or Wales. Students who move to England or Wales for the purpose of education will not be eligible.

Details of doctoral loans for students from Northern Ireland and Scotland haven't been confirmed yet, but there are plans to create similar schemes. 

EU students may be eligible if they are living in England or Wales on the first day of their course and have lived in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for the past 3 years. Support for EU students has not been confirmed beyond academic year 2020-21.

Where can the loans be used to study?

Eligible students who ordinarily reside in England or Wales can study at any university within the UK.

Eligible EU students can use the loan to study in England or Wales only.

Can the loans be combined with Research Council funding?

Students in receipt of funding from a Research Council will not be eligible to apply for a postgraduate doctoral loan.

Can I receive a masters loan and doctoral loan at the same time?

If you are concerned that your masters course will overlap with the start of your doctoral programme you may experience a delay in receiving your doctoral loan. If you are concerned that this will happen please contact our Student Registration Team using


If you have any questions about the postgraduate doctoral loans please contact

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