Oxford and Cambridge

Studying at the University of Oxford and/or the University of Cambridge in England are wonderful opportunities for you to experience a different academic structure while furthering your own studies. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are federations of self-governing colleges, which are analogous to the house system here at Harvard, but also take on both academic and administrative functions.

You will be applying to a college, not to the university. In order to study in either location you must plan early, as the application process occurs one year prior to your study abroad term (ie, apply during sophomore spring for junior year study abroad).

Oxford: Academic Culture 
How does the tutorial system work?

Oxford’s academic year runs from October to June and consists of three 8-week terms with a 6-week break between the two spring terms.

  • Independent work and individual study is required, as the tutorial model requires a high level of discipline and self-motivation.

  • During the application process you will define each tutorial topic (a list of past tutorial topics is also available to guide you).

  • Subjects should be related and not span more than two disciplines (e.g. History and Government).

  • The admissions team works diligently to assign you a tutor with expertise in the subject who will guide your studies and challenge your analytical skills.

  • During each term you will enroll in two tutorials; the primary tutorial meets for one hour each week, and the secondary for one hour every other week. This means that over the course of one term you work one-on-one with your tutors for a total of 12 hours.

  • Assessment is based on essays due at each meeting.

Cambridge: Academic Culture 
How does the supervision system work?

Cambridge’s academic year runs on a trimester system with a 4-week break between terms.

  • Success within Cambridge's academic structure hinges on independent and focused work.

  • Each term you will devote your attention to a single supervision, a teaching model equivalent to an Oxford tutorial (see above for more information).

  • Supervision topics will fall within your chosen department and you will meet with your tutor one hour per week.

  • Assessment is based on weekly essays and a final exam.

How do I choose a College?

When identifying the college that best suits you academically and socially, we recommend:

  • Meeting with an OIE adviser early in the process for guidance (required)

  • Identifying your academic (e.g., not all colleges offer STEM fields), extracurricular, and personal goals

  • Reviewing College websites and considering their environment, traditions, and ethos

  • Reaching out to Visiting Student Program Directors

  • Contacting OIE Student Ambassadors for feedback on their college

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • Students must be a junior or senior at the time of study abroad

  • You must commit to studying during the spring term only (two terms from January – June) or a full academic year abroad (October – June)

  • Minimum GPA (varies by college) of 3.7-3.8

  • You must have completed 3-5 courses in the concentration prior to departure (preferred)

How do I apply?

The admissions process will vary somewhat across the colleges that admit visiting students.

  • Consult the Visiting Student Program page of each college for specific requirements and deadlines.

  • Generally, you will be asked to provide the following:

    • Letters of recommendation

    • Graded writing samples from the discipline to which you are applying. For STEM students, one sample may be a lab report, exam, or problem set. 

    • Official transcript

    • Statement of Purpose (speak to your academic goals and motivation for applying to a particular college)

When do I apply for admission?

Applications are due early in the spring term for the following academic year; this means that you will be applying one year in advance of your study abroad experience.

  • Apply early - spots are limited and some Colleges may review applications on a rolling basis. 

  • Deadlines vary by college so consult the respective Visiting Student Program page for the most up to date information.

Below is a list of colleges where Harvard students have studied in recent years. Where the option exists, students can also choose to apply for admission through either IFSA-Butler University or Arcadia University.

University of Oxford - example deadlines (this does not represent the exhaustive list of colleges):

University of Cambridge, Pembroke College deadlines