The dilemma of when to apply for your studies abroad — fall and spring semesters have long confused international students. Every year, there are typically two admission intakes for all classes and programs at international universities. The Spring semester goes from January to May, whereas the Fall semester is from September to December. Some countries also have summer intakes for specific courses. This is however not common among many international universities. Universities admit students in different intakes rather than just one for two reasons; It’s difficult to accommodate too many students in a single semester. Admitting that many students at once will be difficult because most foreign universities receive thousands of applications each year. This is a major reason why different intakes have been established.
Intakes in the UK
There are two major intakes in the UK, i.e. January/February and September. Apart from these two major intakes, some universities in the UK also offer April/May (summer) intake.
In the UK, the peak months for new international students are September and October. Many institutions in the United Kingdom offer all their programs in the September intake. The deadline for September applications is usually between February and May of the academic year. However, regarding admissions in the UK, this will always change depending on programs and institutions. It is therefore important to research the specifics of your chosen school.
In terms of admission cycles in the UK, the intake from January to February is supplementary. Although there are fewer programs offered at the start of the January intake compared to the September admission cycle, this admission period provides an incentive for applicants who have missed the main admission cycles in the UK. The submission deadlines will vary from course to course and institution to institution and will fall between June and September.
In the United Kingdom, the April/May admission period is the least preferred. It is offered by a few universities/colleges with the fewest program options.
Intakes in the US and Canada
There are usually 3 intakes in the US. The three intakes available in the US and Canada are Fall intake from September to December, Spring intake from January to May, and Summer intake which usually starts around May.
Fall intake is the predominant intake in the US and Canada, as it is in most other countries. During this intake, all universities offer a wide range of courses. Furthermore, additional funding is allocated for the Fall Intake in the US and Canada. Many universities and colleges only accept students in the fall.
For the reasons stated above, the majority of students choose this intake. If you want to be admitted in the fall semester and you are targeting funding, start shortlisting colleges and researching universities as early as possible, preferably a full year before you plan to apply. Take IELTS/TOEFL or other needed tests in June. Following that, you should begin putting together the required documents such as the SOP, LOR, Application Essays, and, most importantly, the visa procedure.
For the US and Canada, spring intake is more of a secondary intake. The spring intake period lasts from January until May. Students who did not meet up with the fall intake may apply for this one. However, the spring admission does not have a lot of courses and funding options available.
Most applicants choose to apply for the Fall intake because, while all schools accept applications for the Fall intake, only a few universities allow applications for the Spring semester. Also note that merit-based institutional scholarships may be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis or require students to apply by a specific deadline.
In Canada, The summer intake, which begins in April/May, is the least popular among international students. Given that there are fewer applicants, most institutions offer short-term courses, diploma courses, and restricted full-time courses during this intake. Summer intake is indeed a unique intake that permits international students to re-acquaint themselves with their peers over the summer vacation. This intake is excellent for international students whose admissions have been deferred due to delayed results or personal reasons.
The conclusive answer is simple and clear: it is totally up to you. It all depends on what you need, the time available to you to submit a competitive application, or if you require funding and your future ambitions. To begin, be clear about what you want from a university degree abroad before applying. We are the masters of our own fate.
Book a consultation to get an understanding of where you stand, which schools can be a good fit for you, and how you can submit a competitive application in any intake you choose to go for.
Written by Abraham Etang