Choosing a college | University of Oxford
Cjoosing a college
Oxford city.
(Image credit: Greg Smolonski / Oxford University Images).

Choosing a college

There are 35 Oxford colleges and halls offering undergraduate courses. You can express a preference for one of them when you make your application, or choose to make an open application. Please watch our video about college choice and refer to the frequently asked questions below for more information. 


I made an open application as I really couldn’t decide. I love the college I was assigned to.

Nicole, 1st year

Does it matter which college I go to?

Colleges have a lot more in common than they have differences and, whichever college you go to, you will be studying for the same degree at the end of your course. Most students love their college, and will tell you that their college is the best. Each college is different in various ways, and this rich variety is part of what makes the Oxford experience so special. Some of the differences include:

  • College size – both in terms of the grounds and the numbers of staff and students.
  • The age of the college and its various buildings.
  • The location – some are in the city centre, while others will be nearer to your department, the park, the river or the sports centre.
  • Accommodation – all colleges provide rooms for first year students but accommodation for later years does vary. You may want to check how many rooms are available, whether they are on the main college site or elsewhere, and how much they will cost. See college rent and other charges.
  • Grants or other funding – in addition to any support provided by the University.
  • Facilities – all colleges have a library, dining hall and common room but sports facilities and other resources do vary.

Do I have to choose a college?

No, although you can express a preference by entering a particular college’s 'campus code' on your UCAS application.  You can find the UCAS campus codes on each college page.

What if I don’t want to choose?

You can make an open application by choosing campus code '9' on your UCAS application. This means we will assign your application to a college or hall which has fewer applications for each place for your course in the year you apply. In 2014, 18% of applicants chose to make an open application.

Tutors have no preference for direct or open applications: they are looking for the best applicants for their course, so they are not interested in whether or not you applied directly to their college. Even if you do specify a college, other colleges may also interview you, and any of them may offer you a place. In 2014, 33% of successful applicants got an offer from a college they didn’t specify.

What’s the best college for...?

Most colleges offer most courses so they don’t specialise, though the PPHs offer a smaller range of subjects. Check which colleges offer your course. They all have high academic standards. Extra-curricular opportunities don’t vary as much as you might think, either – facilities do vary between colleges, but you may be able to use another college’s facilities and you can join University-wide clubs and societies and use the University’s facilities. 

Which college is easiest to get into?

Competition for places at all Oxford colleges is very strong, and all our tutors are looking for the very best and brightest students. Some colleges tend to receive more applications for each place than others, but this does vary from year to year. Also, ‘open’ applicants are allocated to colleges which have fewer applications in that year. Sometimes, if a college is very oversubscribed for a particular course, shortlisted applicants might be invited to interview by another college instead, so each college interviews roughly the same number of applicants for each place. Many applicants will be interviewed by several colleges during the interview period in December. 

Tutors are looking for the strongest applicants, regardless of whether or not you applied to their college.

How can I find out more?

You can read more about each college on the college pages and on the colleges’ own websites. You may also like to come and visit Oxford on one of our open days.