The starting point in the history of the University of Cambridge is considered to be the year 1209. According to one of the versions, people from Oxford University separated from their colleagues because of the murder allegedly committed by one of the students, and in 1226 founded a new educational institution in the small town of Cambridge. Subsequently, the university has become one of the most prestigious universities and one of the most famous "science cities".
In the Middle Ages, the university was experiencing an important milestone in formation. The emerging complex structure necessitated the creation of a charter of the university. At first, it did not have a strict form. The first known copy, dating from the mid-13th century, is kept at Biblioteca Angelica in Rome. It is a random recording made by the so-called Proctors — law enforcers. The first printed version appeared in 1785.
The first college at the university was Peterhouse, founded in 1284. Subsequently, others appeared, formed according to various criteria (separate subject systems, age category, female and male colleges).
For centuries, Cambridge University has been gaining credibility in the scientific world. Today it teaches thousands of brilliant students from all over the world and is a powerful research center, both within the UK and on a global stage.
The University of Cambridge is the second of the seven "ancient universities" after Oxford. Cambridge is one of the leaders in reputable international rankings such as QS or THE, along with Harvard and Stanford Universities, both in terms of general indicators and according to individual criteria and programs. Students from more than 140 countries study here.
Funding opportunities. Although Cambridge is considered one of the most expensive educational institutions in the world, its students (master’s, researchers) can apply for scholarships that cover part of the cost, and sometimes the full cost of tuition and accommodation.
Accessibility of dormitories. Cambridge University provides a dormitory for the duration of the study, while most British universities offer campus accommodation only for freshmen.
Library resources. The University of Cambridge has a huge network of libraries — 114 standard and one central university library, which stores more than 8 million different books, magazines, documents and even 3000 years old manuscripts. The policy of libraries is very loyal — any of the books can be taken to the campus or studied in the library around the clock, which is very important for the busy schedule of Cambridge students.
Student leisure. The organization of student leisure varies depending on the college, but in each of them there is a large selection of student associations and clubs: literature and archaeological groups, sports and gaming associations (for example, a poker club), music clubs, as well as more informal meetings.
Careers Service is a specialized department of the University of Cambridge, which helps graduates and students in further employment and internships in the best companies. The activities of the center are also aimed at improving individual skills for a potential position and organizing practice.
Financial issues. The first obstacle to studying at Cambridge is often not so much the complexity of admission as the cost of training. Amounts range from 28,293 USD to 69,561 USD. A minimum of 12,204-18,305 USD will be required for accommodation, meals and additional costs.
Inability to work while studying. University policy does not welcome the combination of work and studies, as this can affect the effectiveness of the educational process. In fact, such an opportunity is available only to master’s and doctoral students, whose term of study is more than 12 months, and only with the consent of the academic advisor. At the same time, it is only allowed to work for no more than 10 hours a week.
Intense studies. Students at Cambridge University deal with large academic workloads. On average, they spend about 42-46 hours a week attending classes, individual consultations, completing written assignments, and doing work on their own. At the end of each part of the program (there are usually two at the undergraduate level), students will have an exam period, which can include up to 8 exams.
Guidance in the admission process
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Affiliations • Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) • European University Association (EUA) • International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) • League of European Research Universities (LERU) • Coimbra Group • The Russell Group • Universities UK
Cambridge University, as well as its archenemy University of Oxford, is a confederation of colleges, faculties and departments.
In total, the University of Cambridge has 31 autonomous colleges, each of which is guided by its own rules, including independently selecting future students. The uniqueness of Cambridge colleges is that they do not specialize in a specific scientific field, but are interdisciplinary communities that implement student support through an individual mentoring system.
In general, the University offers training within six Schools, or areas of knowledge:
Arts and Humanities;
Humanities and Social Sciences;
Each school comprises several faculties, inside of which one or more subject groups are taught and studied. The latter, in turn, are assigned to more highly specialized departments. A full list of departments included in the University of Cambridge can be found on the official website.
We should also mention the Institute of Continuing Education (ICE), which implements all kinds of part-time programs, summer schools, internships, short-term courses, including online courses.
Construction of the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is not only an educational institution, but also a powerful research center with a variety of laboratories and classrooms. On the territory of the university one of the largest libraries in the world, the Botanical Garden, the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, the Zoological Museum, the Fitzwilliam Art Museum, the R. Scott Polar Research Institute and many other attractions are located. In addition, Cambridge University boasts majestic architectural structures. A special place among them is taken by the King's College Chapel, the construction of which was being carried out for 69 years.
Since the buildings of the University of Cambridge are randomly scattered throughout the city, they often neighbour shops, restaurants, cafes, noisy and atmospheric pubs.
Sports take a special place in the life of Cambridge students, so several sports complexes operate in the university (fitness rooms, gyms, weightlifting halls), there are stadiums for playing soccer, baseball, rugby, as well as basketball and golf, tennis court and much more. The most popular sport among students at Cambridge University is rowing. Quite often rowing competitions are held between colleges and faculties of the university, and in May the team of the University of Cambridge competes with their main opponent — the team of Oxford University.
A University of Cambridge has its own radio station, and several newspapers are published that contain the latest news about the life of the university and the research conducted there. In addition, Cambridge has a theatrical community, a student council to help students solve pressing issues, and a comedy club Footlights.
Cost of tuition at Cambridge University
Type of studies
35,962 USDincluding college fee
44,787 USDincluding college fee
* It is necessary to check the current data on the university website.
Studying at Cambridge comes with considerable costs. The exact amount depends on several factors: the direction of study (chosen specialization) and the type of degree that will be assigned to the student.
The cost of undergraduate programs also includes a college fee, which is set by each college individually. Such programs include one-year advanced courses equivalent to the fourth year of study and requiring a master's degree (MMath, MEng, MSci for graduates of Cambridge bachelor’s studies; Master of Advanced Study for graduates of other universities). The college fee ranges from 10,129 USD to 12,287 USD. The most expensive is King's College.
Cambridge University offers 30 bachelor’s programs, which are conditionally divided by cost into 5 groups.
Cost/yearnot including college fee
Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic;
Asian and Middle Eastern Studies;
History and Modern Languages;
History and Politics;
History of Art;
Human, Social, and Political Sciences;
Modern and Medieval Languages;
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion
Psychological and Behavioural Sciences
Medical and Veterinary Science
* More information on current prices can be found on the official website
* More information on current prices and a full list of programs can be found on the official website
In addition to paying for tuition at Cambridge University, a student needs to take care of the associated costs: meals, travel, accommodation in a dormitory, the acquisition of uniforms, stationery and teaching aids, research trips. If the program involves the use of expensive laboratory materials, the university also establishes additional fees. Information on possible costs is available on the pages of the corresponding programs bachelor's, master's and doctoral. Depending on the program, the minimum amount varies from 13,699 USD to 18,122 USD per year.
Students of the University of Cambridge can live in university dormitories throughout their studies. For bachelor's students, this is mandatory (with rare exceptions). All dorms are located in the University precincts — within a three-mile radius around Great St Mary's Church.
As for master’s and doctoral students, colleges cannot always accommodate everyone — usually from 50 to 80% of students live in dorms. The rest rent nearby (up to 10 miles from downtown). The last option is mainly used by students who already have a family and children since there are few suitable accommodation options for them at the university. For assistance with the search, you can contact the Accommodation Service.
The cost of renting at a dorm depends on the living conditions and is determined by each college individually. Most students are offered single rooms with a wardrobe, chairs and a desk. Other amenities are in common use. Some hostels also offer more expensive en-suite rooms. Each hostel has a laundry room, a shared kitchen fully equipped with all necessary appliances, a relaxation room (JCR — Junior Common/Combination Room), a library and a computer room.
Cost/weeka minimum of 27 to 39 weeks depending on the college
Accommodation with bathroom (en-suite)
The process of admission to Cambridge University
Preparatory programs for admission to Cambridge
For admission to Cambridge, it is not enough to graduate with honors. The applicant must provide the admission committee with certificates of completion of one of the preparatory programs: A-Levels or IB. Foundation programs may be sufficient for arts courses, but for the sciences, such a program is not enough. The marks must be excellent — "A" category. If the financial situation does not allow for a year or two of studies at expensive foundation courses, you can study for 1-2 years at the bachelor’s degree at the university of your country, and then apply for admission to Cambridge. As an equivalent to British courses, you can provide the results of American exams SAT (at least 730-750 for each part of the exam) or ACT (at least 32-33 for each part of the exam).
Important: for each program, the student must fill out a separate application, attach an appropriate set of documents and pay a fee of 79 USD.
Calendar for admission to the master's/doctoral programs at the University of Cambridge
When applying for master's and doctoral programs at the University of Cambridge, the main dates should be considered:
Course deadline (for master's programs — May-June; for PhD — October, January, April, June, depending on the term, where you plan to start your studies). Dates can be checked on the pages of the relevant courses or on the website.
Important: Cambridge does not accept GMAT as an alternative to GRE.
All documents must be uploaded to the Applicant Portal in pdf format (not larger than 2MB). Non-English documents must be translated and notarized by a certified translator. After receiving an invitation, students will also need to confirm their financial viability.
The University of Cambridge admission statistics
Master’s and Doctoral
Total number of applicantsin 2018
Receive an invitation
Foreign students percentage among all accepted students
Male to female ratio
In 2018 academic year, the University of Cambridge has received more than 41000 applications, but only 7384 of them were accepted.
It is believed that the academic year in Cambridge begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th. However, the main educational process is done in 9 months, divided into three full terms.
Beginning of October — beginning of December
Mid January — mid March
Late April — mid June
The exact dates of trimesters and vacations are determined several years in advance and are indicated on the website. The final term for graduate and doctoral students usually takes longer.
Undergraduate courses: types and structure of courses, exams
Cambridge educational programs (also Triposes at Cambridge) are characterized by the fact that they cover a wide subject area during the first year of study, and then offer students a choice of specialized trajectories that will deepen the student's scientific proficiencies at the bachelor’s level.
All courses are divided into Parts lasting 1-2 years and each including compulsory and optional disciplines/topics called papers. Any bachelor’s course — BA (Hons) — consists of two parts. Some specialties in the field of sciences and engineering have a third optional part granting a master's degree MEng or MSci.
The term system at Cambridge University involves a fairly intense rhythm of learning. Bachelor’s students spend an average of 42-46 hours per week studying, including lectures, seminars, practicals, independent work and supervisions. The latter are a characteristic feature of Cambridge (along with Oxford) and represent 1-2 weekly meetings with a professor — an outstanding specialist in a particular field. During the meeting, students (usually 2-3 people) present and discuss their ideas, receive feedback on pre-prepared works. Some courses also include specialized research trips, language courses, practical training.
At the end of each part of the course, the student passes 4-8 written exams in the studied disciplines, the results are announced after 4-8 weeks. Each part is self-sufficient and has its own final grade, which is put into the academic transcript after graduation. Additionally, practical work, a research project or dissertation can also be evaluated. There is no credit system in Cambridge, and therefore, the final document will not have any average rating that determines the degree class, as in many British universities.
All curricula are publicly available on the university website. There you can see options for changing the course after 1-2 years of training. Cambridge offers such an opportunity due to the flexibility of the courses.
Graduate courses: types and structure of courses, exams
Graduate programs at Cambridge, for the most part, are represented by:
MPhil by Advanced Study includes the study of new disciplines — taught element;
MPhil by Research/Dissertation is an exclusively research program;
PhD is a research program of the highest level.
However, there are also a number of specialized qualifications, including MD, EdD, MFin, MBA, MLitt, LLM, MRes, etc.
Cambridge University provides the most favorable environment for research at the master's and doctoral levels. Each student is assigned a personal supervisor, directing the student's work throughout the entire period of study. The curriculum is mainly aimed at developing research skills, however, students also have a wide selection of optional lectures and practical and language courses, which are organized by the departments, Careers Service or Language Center.
Programs can vary significantly. Curricula must be checked on the pages of the respective courses. In general, graduate studies are assessed by the following methods: written exams, course paper/dissertation, defense or an oral examination.
As for PhD, one of the key stages is the intermediate control at the end of the probationary year. Using the report, the student must demonstrate an understanding of the main stages of the study, as well as the potential ability to complete it within the set time. The main goal of the program most often becomes writing a dissertation of up to 80000 words, followed by the oral defense (viva).
Personal selection of student internship options is offered by the specialists of Careers Service. Employees, as a rule, select internships that do not overlap in time with the educational process, since the flow of information and the amount of work performed daily by students does not allow combining work with study without damaging the latter.
Cambridge students can also spend an exchange year in the best educational institutions in the USA, France, Germany and other countries under the Erasmus + program. However, this is possible only in the framework of training in several areas:
Graduate students cannot use the Erasmus program due to the fact that the MPhil course itself lasts only a year (the exception is the two-year Architecture program). For doctoral students, this possibility persists, but the trip should have certain research goals and be approved by the mobility coordinator.
While exchanging abroad, students do not pay tuition at the host university. And undergraduate students even get a 50% discount on the annual fee to Cambridge.
Finally, after graduating from a program of any level, each graduate can count on a Graduate Traineeship lasting from 2 to 12 months in one of the 31 countries.
Cambridge has over 30 online courses, ranging in price from 284 USD to 470 USD. The subjects are very different: history, literature, astronomy, ecology, genetics, criminalistics, globalization, international relations, finance, creative writing, popular science journalism, blogging, psychology methods, etc. The three main periods of the courses are:
February 24 (17) — April 12 (5);
April 13 — May 31;
May 25 — July 12.
Scholarships and grants in Cambridge
Not every foreign student can afford to study and live in one of the most prestigious universities in the world. In this case, it is worth looking for additional sources of funding offered by the University of Cambridge and alternative funds. However, one must be prepared for a tough selection and a huge number of competitors who also want to obtain the grant.
Most of the scholarships and grants offered are designed for master’s and doctoral studies. One of the few opportunities for undergraduate students is a Cambridge Trust Scholarship, provided on the basis of need, that is, taking into account the financial situation of the applicant (means-tested). All of the details about applying for this and other scholarships of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust are send after receiving an invitation.
Students of graduate programs (master’s, doctoral) have a much wider choice of funding sources. By filling in the appropriate section during the application process on the Applicant Portal, the student automatically participates in 80% of the possible contests included in the Graduate Funding Competition. For example:
Gates Cambridge Scholarship (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). 80 scholarships allocated annually by the fund2/3 of scholarships are for PhD students that covers the full costs, including accommodation on the university campus. About 25 of them are allocated to the American students participating in the first wave of the competition, the rest are distributed among students from other countries. Applications are accepted only from academically successful candidates who demonstrate leadership qualities and a desire to work in the scientific field.
Cambridge International Scholarships (CISS). This fund offers 250 grants to young scientists studying for doctoral studies each year. The selection of candidates takes place on a competitive basis without taking into account the financial situation of the candidates. Criteria: academic qualifications, recommendations, research potential. The scholarship covers all costs associated with studying at Cambridge.
Even if the deadline for the academic program is set later, to participate in the Graduate Funding Competition, you must send the main application before December 3 or January 7 (depending on the course). Results for various competitions are announced in March-July. Actual dates must be specified on the university website.
Prospects after graduating from the University of Cambridge
Cambridge University has a 100% reputation among employers, according to the QS rating, which indicates the broad prospects for graduates both in Britain and around the world. 90% are employed or continue their studies within 6 months after graduation. The rest are either in search of work (4%, for comparison, the national average is 5%) or temporarily do not plan to study/work (6%). Examples and employment statistics for various programs can be found on the website.
Of course, in case of foreign students, the process of employment and immigration may be somewhat complicated by visa requirements. Until recently, the graduate had only 4 months to search for work under a student visa. However, with the return of the UK post-study work visa for graduates in 2020, international students have more time (2 years) and more chances to stay in the UK.
The Careers Service can offer significant job placement assistance that is organizing internships and job fairs, conducting consultations and workshops on the topic of careers and related processes (writing a CV, preparing for an interview), and offering job selection services.
Scientific achievements of the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a member of the elite scientific association "Russell" — an interaction group of the 20 best universities in the UK. Russell members account for up to 2/3 of the large grants and the lion's share of government funding.
In 2013, scientists at St. John's College discovered the third state of human consciousness — the so-called dysanaesthesia, which is similar to a state of hypnosis (insensitivity to physical pain with a continuing awareness of what is happening). The method of introducing dysanaesthesia can presumably become revolutionary in medicine.
In 2014, scientists at the University of Cambridge discovered the gene responsible for the feeling of pain. A patient in whom this gene was absent from birth helped in scientific experience. In the future, this discovery will allow to create a new generation of analgesics that quench pain for whole days and even weeks.
In mid-2014, a world record was set in Cambridge — scientists created a magnetic field with an induction of 17.6 T (which is almost 100 times more than conventional magnets).
In 2013, Cambridge scientists found an obesity gene that is responsible for an increased feeling of hunger with a decrease in metabolism. As the problem of obesity is becoming increasingly urgent, this discovery can prevent a national or even global epidemic of obesity, which, according to scientists, has already begun.
In 2011, Nobel laureates and professors of Cambridge — Geim and Novoselov discovered new properties of graphene that will help in increasing the speed of Internet connections.
Charles Darwin, a world-famous English naturalist and traveler who developed and presented the world with the theory of evolution, which became revolutionary for the human understanding of the world’s structure, once graduated from Christ's Cambridge College.
Francis Bacon, a great philosopher and thinker of the 15th century, the founder of empiricism, a historian and an important political figure of his time, graduated from Trinity College.
Isaac Newton, a great physicist, mathematician, mechanic and astronomer, the founder of classical physics and the pioneer of the theory of gravity, the author of the revolutionary work "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", which sets out the law of gravity and 3 basic laws of modern mechanics, graduated from Trinity College and devoted about 30 years of life to an academic career at Cambridge University.
Lord Byron, a great English romantic poet, a very significant figure in the world of philosophy and English literature of the XVIII century, studied at Trinity College.
Vladimir Nabokov, a world-famous Russian-American novelist, creator of the immortal Lolita and an undeniable master of word and prose, graduated from the Trinity College of Slavic and Romance languages.
Bertrand Russell, an outstanding British philosopher, mathematician, and public figure, known for his work in defense of pacifism, atheism, and liberalism, won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950, graduated from Trinity College. Russell made an enormous contribution to the history of philosophy and the theory of knowledge, to the creation of neopositivism, which turned the theory of scientific knowledge.
Several members of the English royal family — KingEdward VII, KingGeorge VI, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Charles, Prince of Wales — graduated from Trinity College, which generally has the highest reputation among Cambridge colleges.
Sasha Baron Cohen, a comedian from the United Kingdom, known for playing the roles of Kazakhstani reporter Borat Sagdiev and rapper Ali G, whose show was popular worldwide thanks to the broadcast on MTV, graduated from Christ College.
Sir David Frederick Attenborough, one of the most famous TV presenters and naturalists in the world, the main manager of the BBC channel in the 1960s and 1970s, graduated from Claire College in his youth.
Interesting facts about the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge ranks first among universities to which the largest number of Nobel laureates are directly related — 130 scientists, researchers and graduates worked, studied or conducted research at the University of Cambridge.
Stephen Hawking is a world-renowned theoretical physicist, cosmologist and popularizer of science (notorious for his illness with lateral amyotrophic sclerosis, against which, the world-wide Ice Bucket Challenge flash mob was launched) until 2009 was Lukasov professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
The University of Cambridge has its own constitution (which does not contradict the constitution of the United Kingdom) and a legislature called Regent House.
Cambridge University is world-famous for its conservatism and traditions. One of the funniest was the tradition of handing a wooden spoon to a student with the lowest score. After its 700-year existence, it ended in 1909, when a student K. Holthouse was presented with a huge wooden spoon the size of an oar.