Oxford University is one of the most renowned institutions in the world, and many ambitious students dream of studying there. Admissions are a real competition and you will absolutely need to be gifted and passionate about your field of study. In a sense, your application to Oxford will start long before the admission process itself: you will need to acquire a good knowledge of the subject of your choice and develop your ability to think for yourself. It is also essential that you are determined. So maybe in a year you will find yourself at the gates of the prestigious university.
Method 1 of 2: Apply for an undergraduate degree
Step 1. Decide what you want to study
When you apply to Oxford, you will need to know which field you want to study.
Step 2. Develop a good work ethic
To be accepted at Oxford you will have to work very hard and even more after you get admitted. Learn to love studying and stick to a strict study schedule.
Step 3. Be passionate about your field of study
Real enthusiasm and curiosity can take you very far in the admissions process.
- Go beyond the standard school curriculum. For the ideal Oxford candidate, things learned in school and on standardized tests are not enough. Expand your knowledge as much as possible.
- If you can afford it, take additional courses at a specialized center.
- If you can't afford to pay for extra lessons, learn more about the subject you want to study by reading as much as you can. Go to the university library closest to you and see the books on offer, do some research on the internet, etc.
Step 4. Get very good grades
As rigid as it sounds, this is very important. Oxford has very high standards when it comes to grades, so yours should be perfect.
Step 5. Don't over-emphasize extracurricular activities
Don't let extracurricular activities take precedence over your academic work. The idea that you will have to be incredibly complete to be accepted at Oxford is a myth. While some Oxford students have many extracurricular interests, others focus solely on a field of study they are passionate about.
That doesn't mean you should give up an activity you love and dive into the books all day, every day. Talents and passions are always attractive to applicants and they make life so much more enjoyable
Step 6. Choose the school or college you wish to enter
At Oxford, students belong to a department or faculty, as well as a college or hall. The university is made up of more than 30 colleges, which function as academic communities in which students attend sessions in small groups, called tutorials. Lectures, tests, marks, etc., are organized by the department. Each college has its canteen, home and library, as well as its groups and societies.
- Find out which colleges are accepting applications for the course of your choice by visiting the university's website.
- Read the college information on the website. You will see that they do not all offer the same accommodations, the same scholarships and that they are not all located in the same place. Some only accept applicants at the second cycle.
- Your application will be evaluated by the department and not by the college. Your application will therefore not be affected by the college you have chosen. You could also be redirected to another college than the one for which you applied.
- You will also have the possibility to make an open application, by entering a special code on your file (for more details, go to the application instructions). In this case, the university will assign you a college or hall.
Step 7. Find out about the admission requirements for the course
The fastest way to find out is to go to the course web page, as well as the general undergraduate admissions information page. Admission requirements include certain grades on standardized tests, some good academic background in high school, and examples of written work.
You will also need to write a cover letter for your chosen course and include a reference from a teacher or advisor
Step 8. Complete your application
The application process is done entirely online.
- Students who have a science degree and want to enter the Accelerate Medicine program must complete a separate application form.
- Check the application deadlines well in advance. To ensure that you provide all the requested parts on time, you will need to plan ahead.
Step 9. Take an English language proficiency test
If your native language is not English, you will need to take an English placement test. Standardized tests accepted include IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, CPE, English Language GCSE, International Baccalaureate Standard Level in English and European Baccalaureate.
Step 10. Stay available on potential interview dates
If the department for which you have applied thinks that your application is interesting enough, you will be shortlisted. In this case, you will need to go for an interview. However, sometimes candidates do not learn that they have been shortlisted until a few days before the interview. In this case, you will need to be prepared to go there.
- Check the university's website for the dates of the interviews.
- The interview schedule is very tight and rescheduling an interview is usually not possible.
- Be aware that lodging and meals will be offered to you when you come for your interview.
- If you have a disability, let the university know as soon as possible, so that arrangements for the interview process can be made.
- International students who reside far from the UK can sometimes take their interview over the phone or over the internet. However, this is not the case for applicants for medical school, who must come on site.
Step 11. Determine if you have been selected for an interview
If you have been selected for an interview, you will receive a letter from the college. As mentioned above, you might not be notified until a very short time ago, sometimes only a week.
Step 12. Practice explaining your reasoning
During the interview you will be asked questions that are not intended to make you regurgitate what you already know, but rather to apply your knowledge to solve new tasks. The interviewer will want to hear you think aloud. Practice doing this with a friend or teacher: this person will ask you the questions and you will explain your answer to them.
- A candidate entering psychology might be asked why studies have shown that Gallophones have a harder time remembering phone numbers than Anglophones. The candidate should be able to quickly understand that memory and arithmetic depend on how easily words are pronounced (in Welsh the numbers are longer than in English).
- A candidate entering history might be asked to explain a painting he has never seen before. In this case, he could apply his analytical skills, make reference to relevant influences and movements, etc.
- Remember that the best preparation you can have will be a thorough knowledge of the area you want to study.
Step 13. Watch mock interview sequences
On the university's website, you will be able to watch fake interview footage. This will give you an idea of the format of the interview you will be having.
You can also find sample questions in the Interview section of the university's website
Step 14. Dress comfortably for the interview
Guardians who conduct interviews are usually dressed casually and you are not expected to wear formal attire.
Step 15. Prepare to talk about your cover letter
The tutor will try to make you comfortable by asking you simple questions first. For example, he might ask you to talk about your cover letter or your school background. Be sure to proofread your letter, and any other written work attached to your application, so that you are ready to talk about it.
Your invitation letter will specify the documents you will need to bring. Either way, bring a copy of your cover letter
Method 2 of 2: Apply for a second cycle
Step 1. Develop a good work ethic
At Oxford, studies are very rigorous and students are expected to know how to handle a heavy workload. Prove that you can do it by devoting time to your studies every day.
- If you need help combining your studies with your other obligations (work, family, etc.), seek advice from an academic advisor.
- Some departments in Oxford require a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.7 (on a scale of 4.0), while others require a minimum of 3.5.
Step 2. Take advantage of academic opportunities at your current university
By showing a strong interest in your field of study, you will become a more interesting candidate for entry into the second cycle. Your current university likely offers opportunities beyond the compulsory curriculum, including clubs related to your subject of study, out-of-curriculum research opportunities, and internships.
- If you're not sure what opportunities are on offer, ask an academic advisor to point you in the right direction.
- Remember that your university library is a major resource. Read books about your field of study and the topics that interest you.
Step 3. Research the course you would like to take at Oxford
You can find more information on the university's website, where you will find a page dedicated to each course. Admission requirements vary from course to course.
On the course page, you will also be able to see the admission requirements, especially regarding your university grades
Step 4. Read the college admission guide
This guide can be downloaded from the graduate admissions page and is amended from year to year. You will then need to make sure you read the one that matches your year of admission. Familiarize yourself with the application process and note all requirements, including standardized tests, undergraduate transcripts, references (letters of recommendation), and any written work you will need to submit.
- In general, if there is a difference between the information presented on the course page and that presented in the admissions guide regarding the application process, the admissions guide prevails.
- If you have any questions, contact the Graduate Admissions and Funding office, via the website.
- A specific application process applies to the following programs: Postgraduate Certificate in Education, Business School courses, Software Engineering courses, Clinical Medical degrees (clinical medicine), the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology (the doctoral program in clinical psychology) and the Foreign Service Program (and the foreign affairs program).
Step 5. Decide which college you want to attend
Graduate students belong to both a department or faculty and a college or hall. Colleges and halls are smaller communities within the university, where you will be assigned a tutor who will help you with your studies. Each college has its own infrastructure: housing, libraries, canteen and hostel.
- Find out which colleges are accepting applications for the course of your choice. To do this, consult the web page of the course in question.
- Other factors to consider when choosing your college include: housing for couples, families and / or students with disabilities, scholarships available, location in Oxford, college for graduate or non-graduate students (some colleges accept undergraduate and graduate students).
- The status of your application will not depend on the college you choose. However, you could be redirected to a college other than the one you applied for.
- Note that you can also submit an open application and a college will then be assigned to you by the university. In this case, use the code provided on your application to indicate that you do not have a preference for your future college.
Step 6. Know how to pay for your education
Unlike American universities, Oxford does not always offer funding solutions to its graduate students. Teaching positions for students exist, but they are not institutionalized. You will need to find a way to finance your education, which could be a significant investment.
Fortunately, there are a number of scholarships for UK and overseas students. Find out more on the Fees and Funding page on the university's website
Step 7. Ask for references
Ask for them from people who know your academic work. To complete your application, you will need to provide references. Ideally, these references should come from professors and advisers who are familiar with your academic work and who can talk about your ability to pursue graduate studies.
- Don't be afraid to ask for letters of recommendation: professors do them very regularly.
- Make sure you apply for it well in advance of the deadline.
- Give specific instructions on how to proceed (for Oxford, everything is done online) and also give the deadline to the person you are requesting the referral from. You will need to register this person (or persons) on your online application and they will receive a referral request.
- Oxford will not be sending reminders of deadlines. It will be up to you to verify that your referral was submitted on time.
- Don't ask your friends or family for your references.
Step 8. Complete your online application
Make sure you do this before the graduate admissions deadline. You may or may not be called for an interview, depending on your department.
Refer to the checklist on the application page, to ensure that you have submitted all the necessary documents
Step 9. Take an English test
If English is not your first language and you are not a citizen of a predominantly English speaking country, you will need to take an English language proficiency test. Ideally, you should have taken this test before the application deadline.However, if you take the test after the deadline, have your results sent to Oxford as soon as they are available or send them electronically yourself. Tests recognized by Oxford include the following:
- English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT)
- Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)
- Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English
You will need to be hardworking, ambitious, eager for new experiences and eager to learn. When you enter Oxford, you will be expected to be passionate about your subject of study
- Don't try to enter Oxford just for the sake of prestige. The transmission of knowledge is Oxford’s main objective and learning should be your first objective.
- Don't be put off by rejection. Remember that the competition is very high and that many bright and promising students are not accepted. Even if you fail, remember that you can always try your luck again next year.