Mature students | University of Oxford
Mature students
Students sitting on the steps to the entrance of the Rothermere American Institute.
(Image credit: Greg Smolonski / Oxford University Images).

Mature students

Oxford is looking for the best and brightest candidates, irrespective of their age or background. Just like everyone else who applies, mature students need to demonstrate academic ability and commitment to study. ('Mature student' means 21 or over at the start of October in your first year.)

Open days

Mature students are very welcome to attend our main University open days for prospective undergraduate students. The last one of the year is on Friday 16 September.

There is also one further open day specifically for mature students interested in applying to Oxford or Cambridge. This will be hosted by Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, to be held in London on Saturday 24 September. For enquiries and further information please contact admissions@hmc.ox.ac.uk.

Qualifications and study skills

Tutors at Oxford will take your work experience and life skills into account when you apply, but it’s essential that you have also undertaken formal academic qualifications within the three years before you apply. We need to be sure that you will be able to cope with the demands of academic study at Oxford and that you have the study skills that are so essential to following an undergraduate degree course. Many different academic qualifications would be acceptable. For further information on the qualifications you would need to make a competitive application, please refer to Entrance Requirements.

Making an application

The application procedure for mature students is the same as for other students (see Applying to Oxford). Many subjects require you to take a written test or submit written work as part of your application. Mature applicants do not always have suitable written work, and we do understand this. Please contact the college you’re considering applying to, to discuss your options.

Oxford does not accept transfer students under any circumstances. However, you may like to consider applying to Oxford for a second undergraduate degree.

Finances

For information about fees and funding, please see our student funding pages.

Accommodation

All undergraduate degrees at Oxford involve intense study and high levels of commitment. All undergraduate students are therefore required to be resident in the city during term-time, either in college accommodation, in other accommodation within six miles of the city centre, or within 25 miles, if it is your family home.

Which college?

As a mature student, you can apply to any college or PPH. One college, Harris Manchester, and three of the Permanent Private Halls, BlackfriarsSt Stephen’s House and Wycliffe Hall, take only mature students. A college environment specifically catering for mature students can provide excellent peer support in which to enjoy the varied and fast-paced life of Oxford.

For more information about all the undergraduate colleges please see our college pages

Childcare

The University aims to assist wherever possible in the provision of childcare. For further details please see our childcare pages.

Part-time study

There are no part-time or distance learning options for undergraduate study here. However, you may wish to consider one of the many courses offered by the University’s Department for Continuing Education.

Department for Continuing Education

Foundation Certificates in English and History

Oxford offers two Foundation Certificates, in English Literature, and in History. These are part-time two-year courses for mature students. If you do well enough you could progress to a degree at Oxford by applying to join the second year of an English or History degree course.

Part-time courses

The Department for Continuing Education also offers a full range of part-time Undergraduate Certificates, Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in other subjects. Some of these may be studied online, and all earn nationally recognised credits.

For further details along with details of how to apply for these part time courses or the Foundation Certificates, please see the Department for Continuing Education website.

Laura, English Language and Literature

"Before I returned to the world of academia I had several careers: accountant, police officer and interior designer! My first degree was in Business Studies at the age of 18. Since then I had hungered to study English Literature and at 38 found myself in the position to go for it. I was scared, having not studied for 17 years, but knew I had to have a go. I visited Harris Manchester on an open day and knew this was where I wanted to be.

I’m sitting in our library while I write this and, even though I have been here for three years already (I studied an undergraduate degree before embarking on my Master’s) I still feel immensely privileged to be in beautiful surroundings studying a subject I love. All the staff here are so supportive both academically and personally so what seems terrifying at first is soon made familiar and homely. My only regret is that I didn’t come sooner!"

Janine, History

"I had always loved history. I started taking some history courses at Birkbeck College, and after a few modules I realised that I was ready to do a structured course. I knew that the Department for Continuing Education at Oxford offered one-to-one tutorials, that the class size would be relatively small, and that there would be a week’s full-time study after the first year which all seemed ideal.

To start with I was worried about everything from essays and class discussions to exams, but it really helped being part of a group.

After I completed my Foundation Certificate I was very keen to pursue an academic path, and the programme directors fully supported my application to Oxford University. I am now excited to be reading History as a second year undergraduate student."