Working in a quiet corner at Merton College | Photograph by Victoria Maguire-Rajpaul (DPhil Geography and the Environment)

What to expect when you’re expecting a decision

There’s a lot going on at Oxford in the eight to ten weeks after the deadline.

You can find a timeline overview and important details on how it all works in our Decision Timeline — here’s how we answer some of our most common questions on this.

Quick note on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What’s actually going on with my application right now?

In an average week this only takes a day or so but around deadlines, with so many applications coming in at the same time (as well as last-minute questions), it’ll usually take at least a few days and up to a week or so.

(You don’t need to allow time for us to do this — you can still submit at any time up until the deadline!)

Once we’re done, we’ll let you know by email whether it’s complete for the deadline.

If it is then we also let the academic department know to get started with your assessment. If it isn’t, you can send in what’s missing before the next upcoming deadline date as long as the course is still open.

What else happens between the deadline and the decision — will I be interviewed?

Some departments will interview a shortlist of applicants during this period, but many don’t. Your course page will let you know whether to expect an interview.

Listen to some of our grad students talk about their interview experiences

When will I find out if I’ve got an offer?

For January applicants your academic department’s administrator will send you an email by around the end of March to tell you whether you’ve been offered a place or not.

We do often get very large numbers of applications compared to the number of places available on each course — for example, the DPhil in Public Policy has well over 100 applications each year and less than 10 places. Sadly, there’s always likely to be some really great people that we’re not able to take on.

If you’re made an offer, you’ll often need to send in a few more documents to confirm that you’ve finished your degree or fulfilled other conditions of an offer, like getting a certain result in an IELTS or TOEFL test of your English language skills. (If you’re sending documents to Graduate Admissions, make sure you send these digitally and not by post!)

A few of our fantastic colleges: Christ Church, Merton and Nuffield | Photographs by Steve Langton (DPhil Evidence Based Health Care)

What about colleges?

Your application automatically goes on for college placement and you don’t need to contact colleges yourself — for details on how that works, see our Decision Timeline.

When will I find out about funding and scholarships?

Can you give me more exact dates that I’ll hear by?

Progress is very different for each application and the people and offices involved in looking at it for funding, colleges, and even for admission are very different, even within one course.

What if another university has given me an early deadline to respond?

If you’re waiting to find out which college you’ll get an offer from before you decide what to do with your Oxford offer, unfortunately we can’t really get that done any quicker. However, you’re guaranteed a college place at Oxford and your teaching will be arranged centrally by your academic department.

Deep breaths all round

We’ll keep you informed on important news and anything you need to do throughout this process as quickly as we can.

If you do find yourself fretting about the future or in need of a quiet moment to think over your options, you might find this five-minute Mindful Breathing Space podcast from our Counselling Service helpful — or their other self-help podcasts on exam revision, perfectionism and self-compassion that anyone can listen to any time, day or night.

Sitting in New College cloisters | Photograph by Ahmad el-Naggar (MBA)

Applying for graduate study at Oxford

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