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Postgraduate Study


For information on the process after submitting your application, please see What Happens Next.

Q. How long will it take to consider my application?

The processing of postgraduate applications can be complex and time-consuming. To ensure that applicants are fairly and thoroughly considered, there are several stages all applications must pass through, before an offer can be made. You may therefore have to wait for some time, up to a few months after submitting your supporting documents, to receive a decision on your application.

As your application proceeds through the various stages, and once a final decision has been made, will its status be updated in your Applicant Portal.

If you do receive a conditional offer of admission from the University, the Postgraduate Admissions Office will then seek College membership on your behalf. However, your place on your course is not dependent on this part of the process. You will in due course be accepted by a College.

Q. How can I track the progress of my application?

After starting your online application, you will have access to an Applicant Portal, which you can use to upload documents, track the progress of your application, and carry out relevant actions such as changing your email address.

It is important that you check your Account Portal regularly as it is the primary way in which we will communicate with you throughout the selection process and beyond.

You can always obtain the current status of your application by logging into your Applicant Portal

Q. Are decisions made on a rolling basis?

Whether applications are considered together after the closing date has passed (known as a “gathered field” selection process) or individually as they are received (“rolling admissions”) varies from department to department, and sometimes from course to course. This information is available in the Course Directory. Each course has a “How to Apply” tab. Within that, the method used should be described. If it is not, please contact the department.

Q. Can I have a paper letter of admission?

We no longer issue printed letters offering or confirming admission. You can now download a certificate of offer, or confirmation of admission, from your Self-Service Account.

Q. How do I inform you of changes to my personal details?

If you have submitted your application and are awaiting the outcome, the only aspect of your details you can change in the Applicant Portal is your email address. If you need to change any of the following:

  • Mailing address
  • Home address
  • Telephone numbers

You will need to await the outcome of your offer. If you have receive a conditional offer, you will be able to change these details in your Self-Service account.

To notify us of a change to your name you should upload a letter, supported by a certified copy of a formal document such as a marriage certificate, to your self-service portal.

Q. I have offers from other universities, or funding bodies. Can you accelerate your decision-making process?

If the status indicated in your Applicant Portal is that your application is under consideration by either the department or the degree committee, and it has been over 12 weeks since you applied, please contact the department. If it is under consideration by the Postgraduate Admissions Office, please use our contact form. In either case, explain your situation and the timescales involved.

Q. I will be unable to meet my offer conditions by the deadline. What should I do?

If you have made an application to start in October, we strongly recommend that you meet your offer conditions by 31 July. If this is not possible, you may need to request a deadline extension, and should then try to meet the conditions as soon as possible after this date. The earlier you meet your conditions, the better, to allow for time to make accommodation and visa arrangements, if required.

If you have already met the University Minimum Requirement with your first degree, and your current second / Master's course finishes after 31 July, you should ask the registrar of your university to send us a formal letter (signed, and on headed paper) at the earliest possible date, stating that all three of the following conditions have been met:

a) you have completed all work in relation to your current studies
b) you have submitted your thesis (or that no thesis is required for your course)
c) you have no outstanding financial obligations to your current institution

Please note that a letter giving a future date when the thesis will be submitted will not be sufficient to satisfy the condition.

If the condition we have set requires that you achieve a particular standard in your Master's (including a pass) and you will not have confirmation of the result before 31 July, please email the Postgraduate Admissions Office to inform us of your situation.

Q. My status is PhD (Probationary). What does this mean?

If your faculty decides that you should start straight away on your research degree, your offer email will show either PhD (Probationary) or Certificate of Postgraduate Study (in the first instance). If you accept such an offer, you will start with a probationary year. At the end of the probationary year, you will undertake a registration exercise to decide whether or not you should continue as a registered research student and for which course you should be registered (PhD, MSc, MLitt or MPhil). Registration exercises are different in each faculty or department, but always involve a rigorous assessment of your suitability for research and the viability of your project. Further details will be provided by your faculty or department. If you are successful in this assessment, your registration will normally be backdated to the date on which you began your research.

Q. When do I have to pay my course fees?

If accepted, the University Composition Fee (UCF) is paid directly to your College at the start of term, or just before the start of term. The UCF includes the fee to cover membership of a College (for all qualifications except MASt programmes, which are treated as undergraduate courses for fees purposes and therefore overseas students are charged separate College fees.) Your College will invoice you for the payment.

Some Colleges may invoice termly, and other Colleges may ask for full payment at the start of the year. Any queries regarding how to make this payment, or the details of your invoice, should be directed to the College. If you have a scholarship that covers fees, you will need to make arrangements for the College to invoice the funding body.

A small number of courses have additional costs, for example to pay for fieldwork trips or accreditation with professional bodies. These additional costs will not be paid to the College. These are noted in the individual course details pages in the Course Directory. Some of these are payable in full at the beginning of the course to the department. Contact the department that runs the course for information on methods and dates of payment.

You can withdraw after receiving or accepting an offer without paying for tuition you have not yet received. For information on withdrawing after starting your course, please see the Withdrawing from the University page on the Cambridge Students website.

Q. How can I appeal if I think my application has been rejected unfairly?

The Postgraduate Admissions Office cannot give reasons for rejection. You may contact the department to request feedback; however, they are not obliged to provide this in all cases.

Please see the Appeals and Complaints page for rules and procedures about submitting an appeal.

Q. I have not received my Self-Service account details. What should I do?

Please check your junk or spam email folder. This is the most common cause of missing emails.

Otherwise, if you do not receive your login details within one hour of receiving your official conditional offer letter, please send an email to Include the word "password" in the subject of your email. You will need to quote the payment reference number provided in your payment confirmation email (AZBB followed by seven digits.)