Visiting and applying

The application process

As this page explains, there are three stages to making an application to study at Cambridge and St Catharine’s. Almost all applications for postgraduate study are made through the University's Postgraduate Admissions Office, and as part of this process, you will have the opportunity to name St Catharine’s as your college of choice.

1. Applying for your course at the University

Almost all applications for postgraduate study are made via the University's Postgraduate Admissions Office. Their comprehensive website provides details about :

  • Courses available, and the requirements to study them

  • Deadlines - watch these carefully!

  • The actual online portal via which you make your application

  • How to submit references - most applicants will need two academic references

  • Application fees

  • Interviews - many departments/faculties will interview their postgraduate applicants, but please note that the College will not

  • Choice of college - you can select first and second choice colleges at this stage

There are a few courses for which you apply directly via the relevant department, for example:

  • applications for the Postgraduate Certificate in Education and MBA or MFin courses at the Judge Business School

  • applications for the Postgraduate Certificate in Education should be made through the Faculty of Education

2. Applying to St Catharine’s

When you make your University application, you can, if you wish, specify your first- and second-choice colleges. If you wish to be considered by St Catharine's, please ensure you put us as your first choice, as we give preference to those who do. We consider applications to study all courses that the University offers, except for the part time Master of Studies degree.

Once you have been made a conditional offer by the University for your chosen course, your application will be sent to the college you selected as your first choice. If you did not make a selection, a central algorithm will pick a college for you.

If that first college is unable to make you an offer of membership, your application will be forwarded to your second choice. Please be assured that even if you are not offered a place there, anyone with a University conditional offer will be allocated to a Cambridge college.

So, how does St Catharine’s decide?

  • Once you have received an offer from your subject department or faculty then your application will be automatically forwarded to St Catharine's Postgraduate Tutor for Admissions for consideration.

  • We'll use the same documents you submitted for your University application - nothing further is required.

  • Every application is considered on its own merits using the same criteria. These relate mainly to the academic strength of the application, and the applicant’s preference for the College.

  • We do not treat applications for one-year and longer courses differently.

  • St Catharine’s has a maximum entry capacity for postgraduate students, largely based on accommodation constraints. We seek to admit approximately 110 postgraduate students each year (excluding non-residential courses and continuing medical and veterinary clinical students).

  • In most years we consider 250-300 applications from candidates holding a postgraduate conditional offer at the University. We make approximately 180-200 offers, as experience shows that this number usually ‘converts’ to a postgraduate entry near our target of 110.

Once we decide to make you an offer of college membership, the College’s Postgraduate Admissions Administrator will contact you by email. If you accept our offer, your documents will then not be shared with any other colleges and your college membership condition will be complete. All incoming students will be sent a universal statement of confirmation.

If you are unsure which college to apply to, visit the University guide to the Cambridge college system

For further enquiries, please email 

3. Think about your finances

Obviously you will want to consider your finances when you are a postgraduate at Cambridge and St Catharine’s. There are two main costs you will incur, and both of them relate partly to your college:

  • The ‘University Composition Fee’ covers many aspects of life at the University and your college. You pay it via your college but it is then divided between the college and the University. Different courses have different fees, but colleges do not.

  • You need to plan for your own maintenance costs as well. Some of this will be to pay rent, and if you live in college accommodation, your college will be your ‘landlord’. In addition, St Catharine’s, like most colleges, makes a Facilities Charge (£50 per quarter in 2020/21) to all postgraduate students to cover basic running costs and overheads for the College's facilities. 

St Catharine’s does not charge any further fees in addition to those listed above. There is a handy cost calculator at this website, into which you enter your course and fee status (home, overseas, refugee).

For further information on finance, please see the guidance published about our bills.

The College has a range of bursaries and scholarships available, which new postgraduates can apply to access. Find out more about the financial support available. 

Open Days

All College Postgraduate Open Day events continue online for postgraduate applicants. 

If you would like to find out more about the College and the Cambridge admissions process, join our live Q&A sessions- 23-24 date to be announced. The postgraduate tutors and current students will be available to answer your questions about admissions, finance and what it is like to be a postgraduate student at Catz and at Cambridge. 

Find out more and book your place.

Virtual tours

Explore St Catharine's as part of the University's virtual tour.

What our students say

"Catz is great because it's super friendly. Everyone is friends with everyone" – Anna Hutchinson, PhD Biostatistics, 3rd year
"I've had the best eight years so far at Catz! Not only is the graduate community one of the most socially active at Cambridge (everyone is friendly, we can go punting for free) and its location (both main site and offsite accommodations) make it ideally placed for pretty much every department, the fellows are very approachable and knowledgeable, and the common room has a well-stocked coffee machine. The College has been far more mindful of supporting student welfare before and during the pandemic than many others" – Souradip Mookerjee, MB/PhD in Medicine
“I love Catz because of its ideal location and lovely atmosphere. It's right in the middle of town and the medium size means people are happy to stop and chat. The bar is great and well stocked, and the formals are possibly the best in Cambridge" – Jess Forsdyke, PhD Civil Engineering, 2nd year
"I had heard rumours of Catz’s reputation for friendliness and have found the community to be very supportive, with help on hand from postgraduate tutors” – Nadene Dermody, PhD Cognitive Neuroscience, 2nd year

Read the latest news about our postgraduates' and fellows' research.

University-wide information

If you have any questions about the postgraduate admissions process to the University of Cambridge, please visit 

Contact details

Postgraduate admissions
Email us