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College guide

Graduate study at Oxford is a distinctive experience: all graduate students are members of both a department or faculty and a college or hall. Oxford’s colleges and permanent private halls are an integral part of the collegiate university. They are independent, self-governing communities of academics, students and staff. The University has 38 colleges, some dedicated to graduates only and others accepting undergraduates and graduates. There are also 6 permanent private halls which admit undergraduates and graduates: they were founded by various Christian denominations and still retain their religious character.

The collegiate system is at the heart of the University’s success, giving students and academics the benefits of belonging to both a large, internationally renowned institution and to a smaller, multidisciplinary, academic college community. Colleges and halls enable leading academics and students across subjects and year groups, and from different cultures and countries, to come together and share ideas. Membership of an Oxford college, as well as a department or faculty, can add a whole new dimension to your experience of graduate study.

Oxford colleges are small, intimate and multidisciplinary communities, where graduate students meet academics and fellow students from around the world, and from a broad range of subjects – well beyond their own fields.

You might find yourself debating your work in college seminars, over meals in the dining hall, or in your college accommodation late into the evening. Your college will provide you with the chance to establish a new circle of friends quickly, and to access a range of varied social and sporting activities.

Seven of Oxford’s colleges are dedicated to graduate students only, providing uniquely tailored college support for over one third of our graduate population.

In addition, 30 colleges and all 6 permanent private halls admit students for both graduate and undergraduate degrees. And then there is All Souls, which is unique among Oxford colleges: it does not accept undergraduate or graduate students.

All colleges invest heavily in facilities for extensive library and IT provision, accommodation and welfare support, and sports and social events. Graduate students benefit from the Middle Common Room (MCR) in their college – both a physical space and an organisation, it provides social events, advice, and a link to the graduate community.

Your college will have a Tutor for Graduates or Senior Tutor whose role includes general oversight of all graduate members of the college, although your academic studies will be directed by your department or faculty.

The relatively small number of students at each college allows for close and supportive personal attention to be given to the induction, academic development and welfare of individual students. Each graduate student has a college adviser, who is a member of the college’s academic staff, and will be able to offer support and advice. 

Do I need to choose a college?

You can state a college preference on your application form or, if you have no particular preference, you can let us assign you a college.

Please use the College search tool to explore the colleges that will accept applications for your chosen programme.


If you do choose to state a college of preference, you may wish consider these factors in your selection:

  • Accommodation for couples, families and/or students with disabilities, if you will require this
  • Funding opportunities
  • Location within Oxford
  • Whether it is specifically for graduates, or if it also accepts undergraduate students

Stating a college preference or letting us assign you a college will not affect how your department assesses your application and ultimately whether or not they decide to make you an offer.

If you do receive an offer from your department then you will also receive an offer from a college or hall, although this might not be the college you stated as your preference if you indicated one.

All Oxford’s colleges and halls offer an extra dimension to student life at Oxford, and you can be sure that the college or hall that does make you an offer will extend a very warm welcome to you.