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Explanation of UK graduate admissions process?

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Hi all,

I'm trying to understand the admissions process for King's College London. I've applied for a taught MSc.

I am most familiar with the North American system where we tend to submit applications by a specific deadline and then all candidates are evaluated and ranked. Schools usually start out sending out acceptance letters according to their list around April/May. If you haven't received a response promptly by June, it's safe to say that you are a fence-sitting candidate, waitlisted or rejected. 

The UK appears to be a bit different. They have a rather late deadline of March 30th that continues on a rolling basis until late summer. Their FAQ says they try to give a response within 4-6 weeks. So, someone applying in early December would receive admission toward the end of January, even though there are many other applicants to come. Is that correct? Does the UK operate on a first-come, first-served system, as long as the person meets the faculty's criteria? That seems like a strange approach, since extremely strong candidates could apply later in the cycle. 

What does it suggest if I haven't received a response within the 4-6 week range? Does it mean that they're unsure about my candidacy and want to see what other students apply before deciding whether to offer me an unfilled seat? I did apply in March, so it was quite last minute. 

COVID is certainly affecting admissions processes right now, but I'm still curious how their process works in general. It's a bit mystifying to me. 


Edited by Elleanon
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I am not an expert but as someone who successfully went through the process at a different school (Cambridge) I can tell you that it is a rather complicated one, at least at Cam, and maybe it is the same at King's. At Cam, applications have to be approved first by your departement, then by the degree committee and then be confirmed by the Graduate Admission Office so basically, it has to jump through three hoops before you get a response, which might be a reason why it's taking longer. Also, 4 weeks is not much... many people wait 8-10 so it's still pretty early! If they take a while it might be because they are unsure but it might also mean that they wait until the deadline to look at applications rather than do rolling. If you want to be sure of what stage your app is in, I would recommend you email the department to check with them when you might hear! 


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Hi Livka,

Congratulations on your admission to Cambridge! 

Thank you for your insight. It's true that it hasn't been very long (week 7), so I'll give it a bit longer before getting worried. I have a friend whose application took about three months to be accepted (June), but they were European. I'm Canadian, so I think I would need to have an answer by early June to have enough time to sort out my visa, secure student loans, to plan departure, etc.

I feel a little stressed, but hopefully they take that into consideration for international applicants!



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