The Postgraduate Application Process

University of Cambridge

Choosing a course

Before applying you should thoroughly research your prospective course, including its requirements, deadlines and course costs. Information on all courses available to study at the University of Cambridge are in the Course Directory.  It is important to choose a course in which you can excel, that you find interesting, and that you enjoy. 

The University of Cambridge offers over 300 postgraduate courses and 21 different postgraduate qualifications.

If you plan to study for a research degree you should make sure that the appropriate faculty or department has the necessary expertise and resources. Some faculties ask that you identify a suitable supervisor before you submit your application, so please consult the faculty or department website before you apply.

Application Deadlines

Make sure you are clear on the separate application and funding deadlines. Course and funding applications are made via the same application form, so you must apply by whichever deadline comes first if you want to be considered for funding.

Course Deadlines

All courses have a deadline beyond which applications cannot normally be considered. However, 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documents as there is no guarantee that places will still be available at that point, and your application will be withdrawn if it is not complete by the deadline. If a course closes early, the Course Directory will be updated accordingly.

Deadlines can also be found in each course's entry in the Course Directory. There you will also find details of what documents you will be required to include with your application (these documents must also be provided by the deadline).

Funding Deadlines

There are many funding opportunities at Cambridge from a wide variety of sources including the Cambridge Trust, Gates Cambridge, Colleges, departments, Research Councils and central University funds.

It is easy to apply for University Funding at Cambridge. You can be automatically considered for many different funding opportunities by just completing the funding section of the Postgraduate Application Form (via the Applicant Portal). Eighty per cent of the funding awarded to applicants last year was from funding sources that only required that section to be completed. You will be able to check for funding opportunities that you aren't automatically considered for by using our funding search tool.

Many scholarship deadlines are around early December, for admission in the following year. If your course starts in January or April you may need to apply for funding 18 months in advance.

To find out more about funding deadlines visit the Postgraduate Admissions website.

Supporting Documentation

You will be required to upload certain documents to support your application, for example copies of degree transcripts and certificates, a research proposal, or statement of interest. It's likely you will need to provide both academic documentation and finance documentation, and if you're from overseas you will need to provide language test results proving your competence in English. The requirements will vary depending on the course you are applying for, so check the listing for the course you are applying to in the Course Directory to see which supporting documents are required. However, all applicants must upload a CV (curriculum vitae, or résumé) via the Applicant Portal as part of their application for admission.

Your referees will also be required to upload references to support your application.

You will not be able to submit your application until you have uploaded the required supporting documents. You may submit your application without the references, but your application will not be considered until these documents have been provided, and it will be withdrawn when the course deadline has passed.

For more information on different supporting documents and how to upload them with your application, visit the Postgraduate Admissions website.

Choosing a College

As a postgraduate student, you will be a member of a College. In your application to study at the University of Cambridge, you can indicate two College preferences or choose to make an open application to have a College allocated to you.

Your College is much more than a hall of residence. Your College is also where you can eat, socialise, and receive on-going academic and pastoral support from your tutor and Postgraduate Office. Some of the other advantages of College membership include induction in your first weeks, financial advice and assistance, and opportunities for research, teaching, and professional development.

Other benefits of College membership are the connections you make with fellow students and academics. The conversations and friendships that take you out of your area of expertise and stimulate new ideas, and the excitement of belonging to a truly international group make being a part of a College a special experience. The friendship and advice individual postgraduate students find in Colleges make these communities an indispensable element of your Cambridge life.

A key element of College life is the Middle Common Room (MCR), a term widely used both for the postgraduate student body, and for the shared space and associated facilities that postgraduate students enjoy in College. Using such facilities and participating in your College's postgraduate society can be rewarding – and you can make a real difference by ensuring that the College knows about current and future student needs.

In your application to Cambridge you can indicate two College preferences. While we cannot guarantee you will receive membership from one of your preferred colleges, over 65 per cent of applicants are offered membership from one of their College preferences. If neither of your preferred College’s accept you, your application will be passed in sequence to a further three Colleges if needed.

Open Application

If, having looked at the different Colleges, you don't mind which you attend, you can make an open application rather than choosing two College preferences.

Open applications are passed in sequence to up to three Colleges for consideration. We guarantee that if you are made an academic offer of admission your application will be accepted by one of these three Colleges.

The basis of the allocation is to even out the distribution of applicants across the Colleges. Once allocated to a College, your application will be treated in exactly the same way as any other application. Making an open application or choosing a specific College makes no difference to your chances of being accepted by a College. Remember that Colleges have many more similarities than differences and most students quickly settle in and really enjoy their College, wherever they end up.


Most departments/faculties will want to interview you if your application is accepted to the next stage in the admissions process. Some scholarships and studentships will also invite shortlisted candidates for interviews. Most interviews will be conducted via video conferencing or telephone.

Good luck with your application!