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Postgraduate Admissions



All applicants will need to give the details of two referees who can provide references written in English. 

When you are completing the online application form you will be asked to provide the details of your referees, including their email addresses. A reference request can then be sent from the online application form to your referees. References are submitted by the referees via our online Referee Portal, and you will be notified when they have been submitted. You can also send reminders to your referees through the ’Manage References’ section in Applicant Portal.

You should check that you have the correct email addresses for your referees and that your referees are happy and able to provide a reference for you before the funding or course deadline. Institutional email addresses are preferred. Other email addresses can be used, and are sufficient at the application stage, but we would need to take extra steps to verify such references when we make an offer. These might include asking for the reference to be sent again, on paper, if authenticity cannot be confirmed by other means.

If you are still in higher education or have only been out of higher education for less than three years, you will need to provide two academic references.

If you have left higher education over three years ago, you can provide one academic and one professional reference.

If you have left higher education over six years ago, you can provide two professional references. 

Your application will not be considered until two references have been received. If the references are not received by the course deadline, your application will be withdrawn.

If you cannot provide an institutional or personal email address for your referee, please email for further guidance.

The Postgraduate Admissions Office is not able to:

  • accept references sent by email or post from the applicant;
  • use references from any previous application that you have made; or
  • send reminders to referees, or contact them to chase outstanding references (you can do this yourself via the Applicant Portal).

Who should you nominate as an academic referee?


Your first referee

Your second referee

Are currently studying or have recently finished studying 

A tutor or supervisor from your most recent degree course if appropriate (if they are able to sufficiently comment on your academic ability); alternatively, a tutor or supervisor from your undergraduate level (if you have finished a postgraduate course as well)

A tutor from your most recent degree course OR from your previous course if you have a master's degree 

You left higher education more than three years ago and you are unable to nominate two academic referees from your previous studies

A member of academic staff from your most recent higher education course

Your employer or another person who can testify to your abilities in a professional context

You left higher education over six years ago and you are unable to nominate two academic refererees from your previous studies

Your employer or another person who can testify to your abilities in a professional context

Your employer or another person who can testify to your abilities in a professional context

If you believe that a different referee (other than those mentioned above) is more suitable for your application and course, please contact the department in which your chosen course sits for further advice. 

Third references are not acceted as part of your application form. However, some departments might be able to consider these. If you wish to submit three references, please contact the department in which your chosen course sits for further advice. 

If a third reference is accepted, you must send this to the department in question directly. 

In addition to providing a written reference, academic referees will be asked to make an academic judgement of you in the following areas:

  • Your academic performance to date
  • Your potential to be original, creative and/or independent of thought
  • Your suitability for the course you are applying to

Therefore, it is very important to select an academic referee who knows you, and your academic work, well enough to make an evaluation based on the bullet points above.


What is a transcript?

A transcript is a list of all the courses you have taken (or are currently taking) during a programme of study, with the result you obtained, and sometimes the credit value of each course. If you have completed your study, the transcript should also show your final award (eg Bachelor of Honours, First Class).

What you need to send and when

When completing your online application you will be asked to upload copies of transcripts and certificates for each degree you have studied for, or are currently studying for, and you will not be able to submit your application without these.  If you are made an offer of admission you will be asked to upload a certified copy to the Self-Service portal, or an electronic version sent via a secure electronic transcript system. This enables us to verify their authenticity. 

If you need to apply for a visa to study in the UK, do not send us your only original as you may need to provide this to UK Visas and Immigration. Please ensure you have sufficient originals or certified copies for this purpose.

Obtaining, translating and uploading transcripts

  • At the application stage, scanned originals or certified copies should be uploaded to the Applicant Portal. If you are currently studying, an interim or unofficial transcript will suffice. Should an offer be made, we will then require a copy of the final transcript to be provided.
  • You should request your transcripts from your institution before you begin your application, so that you have them ready to upload. The academic registry at your university will be able to produce a transcript of courses you have taken or are currently taking, but it may take a number of days for them to process and send this to you. You may be charged for this service.
  • If your documents are not in English, you must also upload a full translation of each document, prepared by a registered translator. Do not translate the documents yourself.
  • Please do not write on any of your documents before you upload them. If you do, we will not accept them.
  • Applicants who are registered as a University of Cambridge student should obtain an unofficial transcript from their self-service page for current students. The downloaded transcript is digitally signed and cannot be uploaded directly to the self-service; applicants will need to first print the transcript and scan it before being able to upload it.

Research Proposal

Most courses which contain a substantial element of research require applicants to provide a research proposal. These are used as part of the selection process.

The length and format of the research proposal depends on the course you are applying for. You will be able to see specific guidance on this in the Applicant Portal when you are completing your application, or in the course directory. If you choose to apply for more than one course, you must upload a research proposal for each application you submit, tailored to the individual requirements for each course.

Written Work

Some faculties and departments may ask you to provide written work so that they can make an assessment of your knowledge and of the level at which you are working. You need to check the information for your course in the Course Directory or on the departmental website to see if this is required. If it is required you will be requested to provide it as part of your online application.

Do not send written work unless your course specifically asks for it; the department will not use it for assessing your application unless it is required.

GRE Scores

Some departments will ask you for a Graduate Record Examination (PRE) test. Please note that only the courses listed below will require one. If your prospective course is not listed, you should not request a GRE score to be submitted to the University of Cambridge, as your department will not retain or process the certificate. Please note that there is a charge for taking the GRE test.

The following departments and courses may require you to provide a GRE test result:


Judge Business School

When registering for the GRE test please use following relevant institution code:

  • 2433 U Cambridge Economics
  • 7020 U Cambridge Judge Bus Sch 

Further information on the GRE test can be found on the GRE website.

You should also check the application information on the department website for further instructions and the levels of GRE scores they require.

Please note that the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is not accepted by any courses.