Starting a masters degree in the autumn intake

Wake me up when September ends is more than the name of a melancholy song by Green Day, its also when university campuses wake up with the end of summer. Starting a masters degree in the autumn represents a new beginning, and a great opportunity to continue your academic and career journey.

Plenty of spaces available for starting a masters degree in the autumn

Masters degree programmes cover a huge range of subjects, and many UK universities have spaces available for applicants that want to start this year in September or October. It’s not too late to apply and the process is really quick.

And don’t forget that application for a masters course is different from undergraduate because it is not part of the UCAS Clearing service.

Universities manage their recruitment directly with the student, so provided you apply in good time and have all the relevant information available you can be offered a place to study in just a few weeks, or even less.

The details are different for international students because you will need a study visa, so these arrangements can take a little longer, but the quicker you make an enquiry to your chosen campus the faster you can prepare for the experience!

We recommend using our Autumn Starts service on Masters Compare. Simply browse through the courses listed on this page and follow the links to our advice section if you need more information about the subject or the process of applying.

Don’t forget open days

A great way to consider lots of different study opportunities in the shortest time is to sign up for postgraduate open days. There is a number of these still running during the summer weeks. In addition, if you can’t find the course or campus you are looking for you can connect directly with the university through their profile on our websites.

Make use of the admissions teams

Many courses offer ways to connect to the admissions team, so if you have any worries about the course or your applications you can get help directly.

You can even reach out to the academic programme manager. This person is usually a member of the lecturing staff. They work within the department or faculty, and they handle the admissions process.

They have all the details about the course, so questions about the modules, exam preparation or the amount of personal study time needed can be put to them to answer.

Is starting a masters degree in the autumn a good decision?

The main teaching schedule for undergraduate students starts in September. Most universities are geared up to be ready to accept new entrants at this time.

The influx of freshers acts as the motivation to prepare campus services and complete new works. This includes refurbished accommodation and recreation facilities.

Masters level students have different requirements to their fellow learners. They take advantage of the additional activity on campus, particularly if they invest in additional pre-masters study support.

Pre masters programmes is available during the summer

The lead up to the autumn term is ideal for students that need extra preparation. In other words this can be an issue if its the first time you will be studying away from home.

Many international student invest in pre-masters teaching to improve levels of English and Mathematics. Universities that offer these additional services are able to successfully ‘onboard’ their overseas masters students.

Additional classes such as these help to improve course retention and completion rates for programmes.

Timing for visa applications

The majority of undergraduate degrees enrol in the autumn. However you have a number of options available if you want to study a masters programme.

University masters courses are open to enrol at different times of the year. Timing is key to successful completion of a postgraduate enrolment. Students need to complete a number of steps throughout the year.

You may have issues with your exams or your study visa, so January is available as well. Lots of international students aim for January for this reason, and this is understandable. There is no particular advantage to autumn or spring, it all depends on your personal situation.

Changes have been announced recently regarding the availability of dependent visas for international students. These will come into effect in early 2024.

Mixture of students

You will have specific needs as a masters student. In particular this includes being able to mix with students from many different backgrounds and nationalities. Universities offer additional merit scholarships to candidates from underrepresented groups and from specific countries.

Some universities share the breakdown of the mix of gender and nationality of a typical study cohort on their websites.

Different types of masters course

Masters level courses are not just full degree programmes – MA, MSc, MRes etc. The main degree subjects can be taken in stages. You can enrol to take a PGDip which is a masters diploma, or a PGCert which is a masters certificate. Each of these programmes is recognized as a qualification in its own right. You can take advantage of shorter courses offered part time and online. Many universities allow you to study just one module. You can fit this experience around your home and work responsibilities.

The bottom line

In summary, the main message if you are considering starting a masters degree in the autumn is do it now. Don’t put off that application if you want to experience a postgraduate course as the fall intake is now upon us. Carpe Diem!

There is never a bad time to apply and autumn is popular, but you have a realistic chance of gaining the place you want if you make that decision soon.

Sign up for scholarship opportunities on Postgraduate Studentships and the latest listings for autumn programmes on Masters Compare.