Postgraduate doctoral loans

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


Key points

  • Non-means tested loans are available to eligible home fee-paying students.
  • 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 information on this page relates to the academic year 2024-2025 for Student Finance England. Students from Wales can find out more information about postgraduate doctoral loans on the Student Finance Wales web pages.

Apply online via Student Finance England

Further information

Is the loan for everyone in the UK and EU?

The loan is available to UK nationals, or individuals with settled status in the UK, who are ordinarily resident in England.

For further details about who else may be eligible, please find the full list of nationality and residence criteria on the Student Finance England web pages.

How much can I borrow?

The loans will be up to £29,390 for courses starting on or after 1 August 2024 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
Between 1 August 2023 and 31 July 2024 £28,673
Between 1 August 2022 and 31 July 2023 £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.

For more information about paying your tuition fees as a postgraduate research student, please visit our web pages:

Tuition fees for postgraduate research home fee-paying students

Is there an age limit on the loans?

You must be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.

The academic year is a period of 12 months starting on:

  • 1 September, if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December
  • 1 January, if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March
  • 1 April, if your course starts between 1 April and 30 June
  • 1 July, if your course starts between 1 July and 31 July
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?

Your course must be: a full, standalone doctoral course (not a top-up course); have started on or after 1 August 2018; last between 3 to 8 academic years; and be provided by a university in the UK with research degree awarding powers.

Your course can be full-time or part-time.

For further details about eligibility, please visit the Student Finance England web pages.

Are there any courses that aren't eligible?

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.

For further details about eligibility, please visit the Student Finance England web pages.

Are PhD programmes that also award a masters qualification eligible?

You can apply for a loan if your doctoral programme includes an integrated masters degree.

For further details about eligibility, please visit the Student Finance England web pages.

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. 

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 masters loan, the doctoral and masters loan will be treated as a single balance, subject to one combined repayment. 

Repayments will be made concurrently alongside repayment of any outstanding undergraduate student loan.

Your repayments automatically stop if you stop working or your income goes below the threshold.

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

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 and you may experience a delay in receiving your doctoral loan, please contact our Student Registration Team using


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

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