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How to Get into Cambridge University from the US [Guide 2023]

How to Get into Cambridge University from the US [Guide 2023]

Second only to Oxford in age in the English-speaking world, Cambridge University is widely considered to be one of the best universities in the world.  Created when a group of professors left Oxford out of frustration, Cambridge has shaped the world’s intellectual progress for nearly 800 years!

Kevin Newton
Kevin Newton
College Admissions

by Kevin Newton (aneducationabroad.com)

Why is Cambridge University the best?

Second only to Oxford in age in the English-speaking world, Cambridge University is widely considered to be one of the best universities in the world. Created when a group of professors left Oxford out of frustration, Cambridge has shaped the world’s intellectual progress for nearly 800 years.

Cambridge University Rankings

Cambridge may be a few decades younger than Oxford, but that doesn’t deter it in the rankings. It routinely competes with Oxford and Harvard to be the highest ranked university in the world. The Times Higher Education Supplement ranks Cambridge as the second best university in the UK and Europe, and the third best in the world, after only Oxford and Harvard.

Cambridge University

University of Cambridge Notable US Alumni

Perhaps the most notable Cambridge alumni with an American connection is John Harvard, the founder of Harvard University. Three signers of the Declaration of Independence also attended. Additionally, Cambridge has produced scientists such as Charles Darwin, Issac Newton, and Stephen Hawking. And while Oxford may claim Monty Python, Cambridge educated Sasha Baron Cohen, creator of Borat.

What does Cambridge University Specialize In?

While every degree offered at Cambridge is exemplary, the reputation of the university does lean towards the sciences. With graduates like Darwin and Newton, that’s hardly surprising. Interestingly, Cambridge leans into this with its program in Natural Sciences, which allows undergraduates to study across all areas of science.

Cambridge University Programs for International Students


There are a wide range of graduate degrees open to students interested in studying at Cambridge. These range from year long masters degree programs to PhD programs and postdoc opportunities.


Much as you might expect at a leading global university, Cambridge has a variety of PhD and postgraduate opportunities. Many of these can be funded by outside sources, and like other universities in the UK, a PhD typically only takes 3-4 years.


Like Oxford, Cambridge grants its alumni an ‘upgrade’ to a MA after so many years. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for those who want to get a traditional masters degree; at Cambridge, these are typically called an MLitt or an MSt.

Summer Schools

A number of programs during the summer are provided by Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education. These include short courses and even part time masters degrees. For high school students, there are third-party providers who run courses at Cambridge as well.

Cambridge University

What exams are required to study at the University of Cambridge for US students?

Cambridge has the highest requirements of any university outside of the United States for testing. To be admitted from the US, five AP scores of 5 are required, as well as an SAT score of above 1450 or an ACT score above 32. Some programs, especially in the sciences, ask for a 1500 or 33, respectively.

Additionally, Cambridge requires subject-specific admissions tests for most of its courses. More information about these can be found on each program website, but do note that registration for these tests closes September 30.

University of Cambridge International Acceptance Rate

Cambridge has a wide-ranging admissions rate. Across the University, it’s around 22%. However, Computer Science admits around 8%, while Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic Studies accepts 59% of applicants. Bear in mind that you can only apply to one program at either Oxford or Cambridge, so that limits numbers.

Is it hard to get into Cambridge University for US students?

Like many other competitive UK universities, Cambridge does not like to be treated like an American university. Americans who do so apply at their peril.  However, those students who do take the time to create a proper Cambridge application find that the process is significantly more fruitful than many of its peer institutions in the United States.

Cambridge University Tuition Fee for International Students

Tuition at Cambridge varies considerably depending on what you want to study.  At the low end are the humanities, which charges 24,500 pounds per year. At the other end are medicine and veterinary science, where the fees are over 66,000 pounds. Please note this does not include living expenses or College fees.  However, undergraduate programs at Cambridge are almost always only three years long.

Cambridge University

How to Apply for Cambridge University from the US?

While Cambridge’s application isn’t due until October 15, you’ll want to firm up plans by the last week of September to leave time to register for your subject-specific admissions test. After that, make sure you’ve applied by October 15 (UK Time!) and finished the supplement by October 22.

After you take the placement test in early November, you’ll likely be asked for an interview in November or December. You will receive notification of your application’s outcome in mid-January.

How to be Accepted to Cambridge University? 4 Tips From Experts.

  • Have an excellent reason for why Cambridge - Cambridge admissions tutors not only want smart students, they want students who want to study at Cambridge. Articulating that matters.
  • Prepare for your interview and subject test - These are your best ways of standing out as an ideal Cambridge student. Your interview won’t be anything like you’ve had in the US, focusing instead on your thought process in the given subject. Additionally, the test will be essentially like an AP or IB exam.
  • Go Beyond on APs - Five APs is a lot, but spread between sophomore, junior, and senior year, is achievable. It might also be worth considering A-Level exams.
  • Don’t Neglect the Supplement - Cambridge is one of a handful of foreign universities that asks for a supplement, and taking time to do it right can help you stand out.

Finally, we reccomend taking advantage of the test prep services offered by Ivy Tutors Network to drastically improve your chances overseas. From preparing for the ACT and SAT to help in all subjects, including AP exams, Ivy Tutors Network is in a unique position to help you make the most of your college applications.


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