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Postgraduate Study


The University is committed to widening participation at postgraduate level and we actively encourage underrepresented groups to apply. 

At Cambridge, we're dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusivity in postgraduate study and research, and we strive to create equal opportunities for students from all backgrounds.

We particularly aim to improve representation of students from groups including:

  • UK students from Black British, British Bangladeshi, and British Pakistani ethnic groups
  • students of all ethnicities from low-income backgrounds
  • mature students
  • students with a caring responsibility
  • first-generation students (whose parents or immediate caregivers did not go to university)
  • students who have experienced being in care as a young person
  • students who did their first degree at less research-intensive institutions

We recognise that a range of factors can impact a student’s path to postgraduate study and we're working hard to ensure we engage with every applicant sensitively and fairly, to identify the most talented applicants from all backgrounds.

We strongly believe that representation of different lived experiences is key to sustaining and developing the open and discursive environment that makes Cambridge such a distinctive and rewarding place to live and learn.

Specific areas of support


We know that funding your postgraduate study can be a concern for many applicants and we're working to break this down by providing various means of support for those who need it.

We recommend spending a considerable amount of time researching the funding available - exploring all the options and what each requires of the applicant - and then making sure to submit your application in advance of the deadline listed.

If you have any questions about a specific funding scheme, please contact the relevant department or organisation, but allow a good amount of time for a response before the deadline.

There are opportunities and funds specifically dedicated to widening participation, as well as a considerable amount of College and department funds. 

For further information, see the Widening Participation in Funding page.

Applying to Cambridge

Application fee waiver  

When you apply for a Master’s programme, you're required to pay an application fee. However, there's an application fee waiver for applicants from certain backgrounds or countries. This includes those from low-income backgrounds and applicants with asylum seeker, refugee or humanitarian protection status. To view more information, and to see the list of countries exempt from the fee, please visit the application fee waiver page. Please note, that there is a deadline to submit your application fee waiver form and it is often a week or more in advance of the funding application deadline.  

Course and funding deadlines 

Applications open in early September, and there are two deadlines you need to consider; your course deadline and the funding deadline. You must submit your full application (including references) for whichever deadline comes first, in order for your funding application to be considered.

Funding deadlines will vary, so make sure to check you are referring to the correct date. If you're not applying for funding, you can submit your application until the course deadline. 

For the 2024/25 academic year, the main funding deadlines (usually relating to University and UKRI funds) are 5 December 2023 and 4 January 2024. If you're applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, the deadline for this is 11 October 2023. 

You should not wait until the day of the deadline to submit your application or supporting documents, as there is no guarantee that places will still be available. It's possible for courses to close early so you should check the course page regularly for updates. All deadlines are 23:59pm (midnight) UK time on the stated date.

Remember that if applying for an application fee waiver, the deadline for this is always at least a week or more earlier than the funding deadline.

For more information on funding available, how to apply, and what happens next, please check the funding overview pages.

If you have any questions about funding, please contact us and ask. Always allow sufficient time for a response before your deadline.

Transitioning to Cambridge from other universities

Studying at Cambridge is quite different from other universities. To help you with this transition, we have various CamGuides. 

These useful guides are designed to introduce you to Cambridge; both the University and the city. They include some of the research practices Cambridge students engage with, advice on how to prepare for your degree, information about the University and Cambridge, introductions to the academic software we use, how to manage study resources, and tips for settling in and who can help you on your journey.

Finding a supervisor for a PhD

If you're applying for a PhD, you may be required to name a potential supervisor in your application. Make sure to check the Course Directory to see if this applies to your course.

If you do need to specify a supervisor, we strongly recommend spending a good amount of time researching the department and contacting potential supervisors before you apply.

Some departments will allow you to name supervisors before you have confirmed with them. However, this can significantly delay decisions on your application, as they will need to verify this with the academic.

Contacting a potential supervisor

Here are some steps to help you find a supervisor:

  1. Explore your department/faculty's current research and the academics who are involved. Find a few academics whose work is in a similar area to your proposed project and try to find out if they are accepting supervisees. 
  2. Email the academics you are interested in. Keep it formal and concise. Explain to them your proposal and how it could relate to their research. Make sure to emphasise your passion for it.
  3. In your email, request an informal chat with the academic so you can ask questions and explain your work in more detail. 
  4. Don’t be discouraged if the potential supervisor does not reply straight away. They may be busy and have a lot of emails. Be patient and don’t be afraid to email again if it has been over a few weeks. 
  5. Don’t be discouraged if they email back saying "no". They may not have any space to take on more students at this time. Ask them if they know anyone else in the department who may be taking on supervisees. 
  6. When you’ve found a supervisor and confirmed it with them, you can then apply and name them on the application. 
Student life and support

We understand that starting postgraduate study at university can be daunting. However, Cambridge is full of welcoming people and you'll find plenty of support available to help you while you're here, including:

  • Access and Disability Resource Centre
  • University Counselling Service
  • Wellbeing Service
  • Black Advisory Hub
  • Cambridge Students’ Union
  • Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning 

In your College, you'll also receive support from your supervisor, College tutor, and the Middle Common Room (MCR).

See our Student Support pages for more information.

Close the Gap project

Close the Gap is a joint project between the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford that aims to transform doctoral student selection. See the Close the Gap website for details.

Events and initiatives

Our events and open days offer a great opportunity to learn more about the University of Cambridge and what it's like to study here.

We also run initiatives specifically to support applications from underrepresented groups in postgraduate research at the University of Cambridge, including: 

  • Research internships - Summer internships for undergraduates from underrepresented groups who have the potential to thrive at postgraduate level.
  • AIM PhD programme - An online mentor programme to support applicants from underrepresented groups in their application to doctoral study. 

Contact us

To discuss any aspect of postgraduate widening participation at the University of Cambridge, please email: