2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Oxford University (UK) Admissions Process


Does anyone have a general overview of the Oxford admissions process? I know it is different from the U.S., but is it still realistic for international applicants?

Thank you!


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2 answers

2 years ago[edited]

It's realistic and relatively as easy as applying to US colleges through the common app.

For Oxford, you have to establish a UCAS profile which is the UK version of the common app.

Here is the link:


Since Oxford is a collection of 45 colleges, you have to do your own research and figure out which college (s) is best for you. Some are 850 years old like University College, Balliol, and Merton and others are newer like Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville College which are women's' colleges established in the 1879 (accredited in 1920).

You will have to rank your top choices and hopefully you get into one of them. If you are qualified but don't get into your top choices, your application file gets deferred into a Pool. I'm not sure how the "horse trading" actually happens behind the scenes, but the Oxford Administration does its best to figure you where to situate you. So if you pick Magdelan (pronounced MOD-LENN), Christ Church and Merton you might not get in because they are super competitive and the Admin might stick you in Somerville or Jesus.

There is something called the Norrington Table which is the ranking of the 45 colleges based on how many First Class Degrees are earned at each college. So if you are not the strongest academically it doesn't make sense to apply to New College, St. Catherine's or Queens.


Oxford applications are due 10/15 Greenwich Mean Time so that's like 6 weeks earlier than the 1/1 RD applications for US colleges. Also, you can NOT apply to Oxford and Cambridge concurrently. You have to pick one or the other.

Here are the admission requirements for Int'l students


Some things most high school students are unaware of is that getting a baccalaureate in the UK takes !3! years not 4 years like the US. Also the admit rates are about 3 times higher than for Ivy league schools around 13%.

Most newbies do not understand that you can not apply with an UNDECLARED major. You must apply for a course of study at Oxford to get considered, not a LIST of Majors you are interested in. It's not wishy-washy in the UK. You have to tell them you are going to study Physics or Math or Classics. And each major has it's own admissions process and assessments. So the admit rates vary from major to major. Some majors like Materials Science (engineering) are super hard and only accept 6% while history or philosophy majors have higher acceptance rates like 20%.

And each college varies in degree of difficulty as well. So Christchurch might be 15% while Merton might be 11% for instance. I'm including a PDF link so you can compare each college side by side with admit rates

Also a college is not an Academic Building like you find on US campuses. If you go to Columbia U. There is the FU SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING or the

Columbia School of Journalism. A college at Oxford or Cambridge is its own campus within the greater Oxford campus. Its' collection of students that live, study, eat and play together. Each college has its' own Dean and Library and dining hall and pub. And both undergrads and graduate students live at 1 college together. A college might be 1 acre of land or 100 acres of land in the case of Magdelan College. So it's a self contained college experience. When you take your exams you take them at centralized test centers located on the Oxford Campus, not in your college.

This is the latest 2021 Oxford book of admissions stats. It's still valid for applying now.


Good luck.

2 years ago

A good overview of the process has been mentioned here! Our CollegeVine article can give you some more tips on applying for colleges abroad. Hope this helps!

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