Colleges

There are many points to look at when choosing a college. You can get much more information about each of the colleges from their Alternative Prospectus entries: select one from the menu.

Choosing a College

On the application form you will be asked to choose two Colleges in order of preference, or you can choose not to specify any College. If you express a preference, your application will be sent to your choices in order. If you do not express a preference, or if your preferred colleges do not make you an offer, the BoGS will select a College for you.

There are several good reasons not to worry too much about your college place (and to take individual opinions and general reputations with a pinch of salt):

  • If you are offered a place for your course, you are guaranteed a college place.
  • For graduate students, your college affiliation has almost no bearing on your teaching or research supervision.
  • There are plenty of students in every college who greatly enjoy their time there and would advocate their college above all others!
  • Although they differ in location and the accommodation they can provide, Cambridge is a small place well provided with accommodation, so you should never find yourself unmanageably far from your department.

Most graduate students spend more time in their departments or libraries than in their college. However, many value the social opportunities, interdisciplinary community, facilities and traditions provided by their college; and colleges still provide facilities and welfare support not duplicated elsewhere. The main provision for welcoming new students to Cambridge is from college matriculation events and MCR freshers’ week, so you are strongly encouraged to take part in these. After that, how much involvement you choose to have with your college is mostly up to you.

Colleges still have an influence on the life of every graduate student in Cambridge, and they differ in many ways. Some questions to think about may be:

  • Is college accommodation guaranteed for the full duration of the course? How much will it cost and is it conveniently located?
    • If you are coming with a partner, is there accommodation for couples? This is often very limited: see the information for students with partners.
    • If you are coming with children, is there accommodation for families? This is often very limited: see the information for students with children.
  • What additional compulsory charges (e.g. a kitchen fixed charge) will the college require me to pay?
  • What style and atmosphere do you prefer? An old/famous/historic/riverside college? A large college with many students or a smaller community? Formality and tradition?
  • Which colleges provide childcare bursary schemes?
  • Is there a large international community?
  • Is there a large and active graduate community? Does the MCR and/or college arrange many social events for graduate students?
  • Is there a travel fund or any other grants?
  • What kind of college would you not like? If your first and second choice of college do not make you an offer, your application will be circulated to other colleges, at which stage you are more likely to receive an offer from colleges less popular with applicants. You might strategically prefer not to choose the most famous colleges for both of your choices.

Feel free to contact the Graduate Tutor or the MCR / Graduate President in the Colleges you are interested in. You can find the names and emails of the graduate tutors in the colleges section of the University Prospectus, and contact details for the MCR Presidents are available on the GU website.