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University Admission Session or Intakes for Studying in USA

Are you one of those millions of students who dream of studying in US? Then, it is important for you to understand the Education System along with the University admission sessions or Intakes and deadlines for Studying in USA. The deadlines vary from university to university and college to college. To get top university admission, you might need to apply at least 9 – 12 months prior to the intake. So, it is always advisable to start preparing a year before your class starts.

There are two different Education Systems in the US

1. Semester system

2. Quarter system

Semester System

90% of the colleges run on the semester system and have three admission cycles in a year. This is quite different from Indian education system where admissions take place only once in a year. The three intakes for studying in USA are as follows:

1. Fall:  August

2. Spring:  January

3. Summer:  May

Fall and Spring are considered as the main semesters and each semester consists of 15-18 weeks. The duration of summer semester (shortest semester) varies from 10 -12 weeks.  Most of the American Universities/ colleges have intakes only in Fall and Spring.  Very few colleges are open for admissions during summer. Please check the college/university websites to know their admission process and intake seasons.

Fall Intake

Fall semester starts in Mid-August and ends in December. Most of the students opt for this intake. The academic year for almost all the universities starts with fall semester. It is said to be the best session or intakes for studying in USA and to apply for as you will have innumerable university and program options.

When should I start applying for fall intake?

If you are applying for fall intake, you need to apply almost a year before as the competition is high. Yet, it again depends on the university you are applying to.

For all the top ranked Universities, you need to apply a year before. However, other universities allow you to apply till March and June/July of the same year.

Some of the top Ranked Universities where you need to apply by October / November of the previous year are -

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • University of California
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Michigan Ann Arbor
  • Cornell University
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Maryland
  • California Institute of Technology

Spring Intake

Spring semester starts in January and ends in mid-May. This intake is for students who face rejections in fall, working professionals and students who take a little gap to settle down. Not all universities accept intakes during spring, so please check before applying.

When should I start applying for spring?

If you are applying for spring intake then you need to put in your application by end of July the year before. There are colleges with deadlines in September and October, in such case you need to send your application by August. Most universities work on FCFS (First Come First Serve) basis. Applying early will increase your chance of getting admission and scholarships.

Summer Intake

Summer semester starts in June and ends in August. This is the shortest semester of all the three semesters. Some universities consider this as shorty optional semester. Very few universities accept admissions in this semester.

When should I start applying for summer intake?

For summer intake, you need to apply by March of the same year. But, most of the universities don’t have summer intakes. Even if the universities are open for admissions, the concerned departments might remain closed. Again, check with the university you opted for before you apply.

Quarter System

Only 10% of the Universities or Colleges in USA prefer this education system. There is a debate running on - which is the best education system -“semester system or quarter system”. And based on many factors, semester system has been winning out.

This quarter system comprises of four seasons

1. Fall Quarter: September

2. Winter Quarter: January

3. Spring Quarter: April

4. Summer Quarter: July

Fall Quarter

Usually, the fall quarter starts in September and ends in December. Most of the admissions come in this quarter and it is considered as the major quarter. The duration of this quarter is 12-13 weeks. Most of the scholarships and financial aids are offered in this quarter.

To apply for the fall quarter, you need to put in your application by the end of June of the same year. Some colleges and universities have July and August deadlines but, it is advisable to apply by June. This is the best way to stay on a safe side and to get considered for a scholarship.

Winter Quarter

Winter quarter starts from January and ends in Mid-March. The duration of this winter quarter is also of 12-13 weeks. To apply for this winter quarter, you need to put in your application by October the year before. Again, some colleges have November and December as their deadlines. But, it is better to apply early to get considered for scholarships and other financial aid.

Spring Quarter

Spring quarter starts in April and ends in June. This is also of 12-13 week program. Also, if you are looking to apply for this quarter then apply by January of the same year. Applying early in January will increase your chance of getting admission and scholarship.

Summer Quarter

This is the shortest of all the quarters consisting of 8-10 weeks. This usually starts in July and ends in Late August. The summer quarter has two sessions, summer session-I and summer session –II. The duration of each session is 5 weeks.

Some universities are not open for admissions during summer quarter. However, this is dependent on the individual college/university and it is advised to check with the university to understand their admission process.

Even though there are various intake seasons, colleges doesn’t allow admissions in all the intakes. Fall is start of the academic year and is the most common intakes for studying in USA where almost every college accepts admissions. If you are applying for any other intake rather than fall, it is better to check with the university website or connect to the individual college admission department team to know their preferred intake season.

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