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1 | Application Basics

How to apply

The University requires candidates to apply online and for their referees to submit online references. To access the online application system, which is hosted by Embark on behalf of the University, please visit

Paper applications are only acceptable in exceptional cases where it is not possible for you to apply online. Applicants who have an exceptional need to use a paper application form should use the instructions and form available in our Guidance for paper applications

The online application system comprises:

  • seven pages of questions, where you will be required to input essential data about your application
  • further pages allowing you to upload supporting materials for your application
  • a reference system requiring you to register your referees' e-mail address and other details, which then allows your referees to log in to the system and submit online references
  • an Application Inspector to check that you have answered all mandatory questions
  • a declaration for you to read and confirm regarding the information and documentation provided in your application 

If you have technical difficulties or queries regarding the application, you should request support from the Embark Support Centre at

A range of assistive measures are in place to support applications from students with disabilities; for example, a paper application will be accepted where necessitated by an applicant’s disability. Further information on this support is available under Guidance for applicants with disabilities.

Readmission form only

For current taught Oxford graduate students applying for readmission to a doctoral programme only

For full information about your eligibility for this process and additional guidance on the readmission procedure, please see the supplementary information in Guidance for continuing Oxford graduates.

Readmission students use a tailored version of the online application form which does not require payment details. 

After logging in to the online form, candidates should choose to “Proceed to Readmission Form”.

If you log in with the same e-mail address and password as you used in making your last online application to Oxford, some information will be pre-populated for you; you may also create a new account if you wish.

When to apply

The standard university-wide application deadlines for entry in October 2014 are as follows:






Friday 22 November 2359 GMT


Only selected programmes use this deadline – for details, see the Course Guide



Friday 10 January 2359 GMT
or Friday 24 January 2359 GMT


All programmes use one or other of these deadlines – for details, see the Course Guide

These are also the deadlines for most scholarships



Friday 14 March 2359 GMT


Only selected programmes use this deadline – for details, see the Course Guide



Saturday 15 March 
to Sunday 31 August


Some courses will remain open beyond 14 March where places remain available

During this period, up-to-date information on which courses are open is available via our website


Each programme of study may use one or more of these application deadlines, as listed in the Course Guide. If there is more than one deadline available for your programme, you may apply for any of these; applicants to earlier deadlines will often receive earlier decision outcomes, and we would therefore recommend applying by the earliest possible deadline.

To ensure any issues – with references, for example – are resolved in good time, you should aim to submit your complete application and all required supporting material well before the relevant deadline. Individual departments may have additional deadlines for specific sources of funding or other processes.

The January deadlines are the deadlines for the majority of scholarships offered by the University and its departments and colleges. You must apply by the relevant January deadline both for university-wide scholarships where all eligible candidates are automatically considered - UK Research Council funding, for example - and for the scholarships which are listed on the application form, as detailed in the 'About your funding' section of page 3 of the Application Guide.

Please note that there are also other scholarships available throughout the University and its colleges which require that you specifically apply for them. They may have a range of deadlines and you should check the deadlines for any funding you intend to apply for carefully.  

Application deadlines are strictly enforced. Your application and all supporting materials, including references, must be received online by 23:59 GMT on the deadline date. Any materials sent via post must be received by the Graduate Admissions Office by the end of the working day, 17:00 GMT, on the deadline date; the date of posting is not taken into account. 

If you are intending to apply for a visa for a programme commencing in October, you should aim to apply by the relevant January deadline.

After submitting your application

Your application will not be considered to be complete until all the necessary supporting materials, including references, have been received. It is your responsibility to make sure that any required supporting material not uploaded with your online application or included with your paper application is clearly identified with your full name and programme of study, and is supplied by the application deadline.

If the form is incorrectly completed, or if required materials have not arrived in the Graduate Admissions Office by the deadline, your application will not normally be assessed. We will endeavour to contact applicants where possible to advise of any problems of this kind, but it is not likely that this will be possible if you submit your application close to the deadline. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have followed the instructions published to applicants. 

Completed applications are sent on to the appropriate department for an academic assessment. You will be notified of the outcome of your application by the relevant department. 

Full information on the admissions process after you have submitted your application, including decision timescales and college placement, are available via the Outcomes of your application page.

English language requirements

English is the language of instruction for all programmes offered at Oxford and it is mandatory that all theses or examination papers are written in English, except where University regulations permit otherwise.

The University has approved both a standard and a higher level of required ability in English. For all taught programmes the higher level is mandatory; for research programmes, departments have selected the level that is most appropriate, as indicated in each entry in the Course Guide.

If your first language is not English, or if your first language is English but you are not a national of the UK, Ireland or a majority English-speaking country recognised by the UK Home Office, you must supply suitable evidence that you have reached the relevant higher or standard level before any offer of a place can be confirmed. 

Majority English-speaking countries are defined by the Home Office as:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

The University only accepts certain standardised test results – IELTS, TOEFL iBT, Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) and Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE). The English language test must have been taken within two years of the date your programme will commence.

The standard and higher level score requirements in each test are as follows: 



Standard level requirement


Higher level requirement





Minimum 6.5 per component



Minimum 7.0 per component


TOEFL iBT (Internet-based)*



Minimum component scores**:
Listening - 22
Reading - 24
Speaking - 25
Writing - 24



Minimum component scores**:
Listening - 22
Reading - 24
Speaking - 25
Writing - 24


Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English








Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English






Not accepted

* The TOEFL code for the University of Oxford is 0490
**  The UK Home Office may accept lower minimum scores for the purposes of obtaining a visa, but please note that the University still requires candidates to meet its minimum scores as above

Language test waiver

The requirement to provide English proficiency scores may be waived, at the discretion of the University, in cases where you have successfully completed, or are currently completing, a full-time degree-level course of a minimum of nine months at a recognised institution where the medium of instruction and assessment is entirely in English.

If you are still completing your degree and you are offered a place, you will usually be requested to show evidence that you have successfully completed your degree as a condition of your offer. It is expected that you will complete your degree and show evidence of this in good time, usually by 31 August, although please note that some departments may set an earlier deadline. If you are due to complete your degree after the date set by the department, you will usually be expected to submit a certificate of an English language test meeting the University's usual requirements for applicants whose first language is not English.

If you wish to apply for a waiver of the English language test requirement, you will need to upload a letter with your application outlining the reasons why you should be exempted. The request will be considered by the department at the same time as your application is assessed and, if successful, you will not be required to supply proficiency results as a condition of any offer made.


Information for applicants who need a visa: TOEFL English Language tests still accepted for degree-level entry in October 2014

The University of Oxford is continuing to accept TOEFL tests for admissions and visa purposes for students starting degree-level courses in 2014.

On 17 April 2014 the UK Home Office announced that ETS, the company that administers the TOEFL tests, was no longer licensed by the Home Office as a provider of an English language test for visa purposes for courses below degree level. If you are joining the University of Oxford in 2014 to study for one of our degrees, the University will accept your TOEFL test for admissions and visa purposes, provided you meet the University’s required scores, and will issue you with a CAS number for a student visa application. It does not matter if you took your TOEFL test before or after 17 April 2014, or have yet to take the test, so long as your test is not older than two years by the time you start your course and you meet any deadlines set by Oxford in your offer of a place.

Selection criteria

The Course Guide comprises a summary of essential information for each programme, including information about the selection criteria for each course.

The minimum academic requirement that applicants must meet to be considered for admission is a strong upper-second class UK Bachelor’s degree with honours (GPA 3.5 or above in the US system), or equivalent qualification. For some programmes, the minimum grade requirement may be a first class (GPA 3.7 or above in the US system) or additional requirements may also be in effect.

Alternative evidence of real academic strength and aptitude may be demonstrated, for example, in a research application by a strong degree at Master’s level; relevant professional experience may also be accepted in some subjects.

If you have any questions about your qualifications, please contact the relevant department for advice prior to applying.

If you are an international applicant and you would like to know how your degree compares with a UK equivalent, you may contact the UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK-NARIC) for advice.