Skip to main content

Doctoral student loans

Borrow up to £27,265

Find out more

Doctoral loan

Government Doctoral Loans of up to £26,445 for 2020/21 entry and £27,265 for 2021/22 entry are available for students from England looking to study a PhD or equivalent postgraduate research programme.

Please note that details for students starting in 2021/22 have not yet been released in full by the UK government.

The eligibility criteria on this page refers to 2020/21 entry, unless stated otherwise, and will be updated when further information is available

Eligibility criteria (2020/21 criteria)

You can get the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if all of the following apply:

  • you’re a UK or EU national, or have ‘settled status’, so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay
  • you normally live in England, and did not move there just to study
  • you’ll have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years before starting your course

You may also be eligible if you’re an EU national and all the following apply:

  • you’ve normally lived in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the past three years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’)
  • you’ll be studying at a university in England

You could also be eligible if you’re:

  • the child of a Swiss national
  • the child of a Turkish worker
  • a refugee or a relative of one
  • an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or a relative of one
  • under humanitarian protection or a relative of someone who has been granted it
  • 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half your life.

Which courses and levels of study 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 three to eight academic years
  • be provided by a university in the UK with research degree awarding powers.

It can be:

  • full-time or part-time
  • taught or research-based, or a combination of both.

Examples of postgraduate doctoral qualifications include:

  • PhD / DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy)
  • EdD (Doctor of Education)
  • EngD (Doctor of Engineering).

What about repayment?

  • The earliest you start repaying is when your annual income is over £21,000 and it’s either the first April after you leave your course or the April 4 years after the course started
  • You’ll pay back 6% of your income over the minimum amount (‘threshold’). This is £21,000 a year, £1,750 a month or £404 a week
  • You must repay any undergraduate student loans you have at the same time
  • You’ll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment until your loan is repaid in full or cancelled.The interest rate on the loan is currently 6.3%. Interest will be charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%.The interest rate is updated in September every year, using the RPI from March of that year.

How do I apply?

You can apply here.

Will a Doctoral Loan cover all the costs?

The Doctoral loans are intended as a general contribution to the costs of postgraduate study. This means that they aren't tied to the specific cost of a doctoral programme or the living costs incurred by PhD students.

In practice, both of these amounts will vary depending on factors such as the fees charged by your institution and the cost of living in your local area.

The loan should significantly reduce the financial burden of PhD study, but it won't necessarily cover full fees and living costs for a three year doctorate.

This information is correct at 21 September 2020. For the latest information, visit

Page history:

21 September 20: page updated with loan amounts for 2021/22 entry.

17 October 19: page updated with loan amounts for 2020/21 entry.

29 January 19: page updated with loan amounts for 2019/20 entry.