Applying to study abroad is a big step in life, and one that requires adequate planning. Among the many aspects of planning to study abroad, an important element is the application process and meeting the requisite deadlines.

We have put together some of the information you need to know when submitting an application for undergraduate or postgraduate studies the US, UK and/or Canada.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Undergraduate

Of the three countries we’re discussing, the US application process may be the longest. You will have to apply separately to each university, and will probably also have to sit an admissions test.

All universities in the US offer the Fall intake and some offer a secondary intake in Spring. The Fall semester begins in August (or September in some universities) and ends in December and the Spring semester begins in January and ends in May. Students are generally advised to aim for entry in the Fall as opposed to the Spring semester.

For example:

College of Saint Elizabeth: Fall Deadline - June 15 2017 | Spring Deadline - November 15 2017 

Georgia State University: Fall Deadline - May 1 2017  | Spring Deadline - November 1 2017

Postgraduate

Universities in the US can have up to four intakes annually for postgraduate programmes. Fall is always the most popular intake, with Spring being second most common. However, some institutions will also have Winter and Summer intake. It is worth noting that most US post-grad programmes require you to complete a set of tests in order to qualify, thus you should ideally give yourself up to two years to prepare your application. The best advice we can give is to start the application process as early as possible.

For example:

Florida International University: Fall Deadline - May 1 2017 | Spring Deadline - November 21 2017

UNITED KINGDOM

Undergraduate

The main intake is done through UCAS (Undergraduate Courses at University and College) and takes place in September, the application deadline however is in June. Applications received after June 30th are entered into clearing (more about this below), so be sure to submit all application documents well in advance of this cut off date.

In many British schools students are advised to apply for courses by January, but most universities and colleges continue to accept applications until quite close to the beginning of the course; please check the exact date with the institution you’re applying to.

If you miss the January deadline for August intakes there is still hope. Many universities continue to accept applications from international students until late June.

Don’t leave it for too late though, because after getting in you’ll still need time to arrange for your visa and accommodation.

Clearing is another part of the UCAS university application process. Any spaces universities have left for the new academic year can be filled during this time. It gives late applicants or those who have not found a place a chance to find a university placement, so ask your chosen university if this is an option for you.

Many universities do have another smaller intake in January. This is not done through UCAS, but directly through the university. Starting in January, it is possible to graduate within three and a half years by taking additional half modules during a semester or if you already have previous qualifications that count as credit towards your degree. However, you will have to work extra hard to catch up if you take this option.

For example:

Swansea University: Fall Deadline - July 31 2017

London South Bank University: Fall Deadline - June 30 2017

Postgraduate

The main intake dates for UK post-graduate degrees are in September and January. However some institutions do offer other dates. Application for post-graduate degrees in the UK is done via the institution you would like to study at.

You can apply for some post-graduate courses through UCAS using a system called UKPASS. Applications using this service can be made at any time, there are no deadlines. However, universities and colleges will have their own closing dates, so drop your preferred institutions an email to check before you apply.

For example:

Cardiff Metropolitan University: Fall Deadline - 31st July 2017 

Oxford and Cambridge

These two universities have far earlier UCAS deadlines for the the 2017 entry, i.e. October 2016.

CANADA 

Undergraduate

In Canada applications are made out separately to each university, although unlike in American universities there is no standardised admissions test.

Depending on what you choose to study, studies will take 3-4 years. For the September intake you should apply in March at the latest, however it is advised to apply even earlier than this if your course is particularly popular. The second intake in Canada is in January or February.

For example:

Carleton University: Fall Deadline - June 1 2017 | Spring Deadline - October 15 2017

Nipissing University: Fall Deadline - April 1 2017

Postgraduate

For postgraduate programs, the main intake in Canada is early September. As with each application we have described here, it is best to aim for the earlier intake, as depending on your area of study, some institutions offer an additional enrolments in January, and others in May.

For example:

Centennial University: Fall Deadline - September 6 2017

Conclusion

Be sure to plan your application well in advance, as not only do earlier applications show enthusiasm, but are generally more straightforward as you will get processed ahead of the pack. As you can see, the Fall/Autumn intake is the most popular time to start so ideally aim for this enrolment wherever you plan to study.

If you are an undergraduate, make sure you communicate clearly with UCAS in the UK and directly to your chosen universities in America and Canada.

For postgraduate study, start your application well in advance. Research the institute you want to study at and get the process started. Remember that you want to have time to assess the research interests of the staff and make sure that you get the ideal supervisor to match your specialism. This might mean that you want to arrange a visit or Skype meeting before you even put an application in, so start thinking about it at least 24 months before you intend to start.

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