January Intake vs September Intake for Study Abroad: Which is Better?

By Subhashri Roy Updated On - Nov 11, 2021 01:45 PM

January vs September Intakes? In order to find out, we decided to figure out the major points of difference between the January/Spring and September/Fall intakes to study abroad. Also, find out the pros and cons of both the intakes.

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When it comes to studying abroad, we’ve heard it all: it’s confusing, it’s too time-consuming or it is way too competitive. Yet more students from across the world have been keen to study abroad than ever. However, unless you have adequate information about WHEN to apply to foreign universities or which intake would suit you the best, you might blow your chances of making the cut.

We want you to be able to choose between the top two intakes abroad: September (also known as the Fall intake) and January (also known as the spring intake), whichever is best for you. Let’s talk about the differences between the two intakes.

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Also Read: 7 Mistakes to Avoid During Your Study Abroad Application Process

Major Differences Between January and September Intakes Abroad

Here are some of the points of difference between the January and September intakes. But, before we dive in, let us first clarify that the intakes may start and end on different timelines in different countries. For instance, the most common intake in the US is the fall intake although several universities do offer the spring intake. On the other hand, in New Zealand and Australia, February is considered the fall intake and July is considered the spring intake and both are equally popular.

Point of Difference

January Intake

September Intake

Internship/Job Opportunities

Given that this is not the traditional time to apply for a new job, you are likely to find more job opportunities with less competition. 

If you take admission in the spring/January intake, you can use the fall period to take up some additional internships or courses that can be an add-on to your course.

September students may graduate a little earlier and get a chance to work for three extra months.

Course Offerings

Many countries like the US, UK, Canada, among others, might have fewer universities offering January intake. This further leads to fewer course options. However, good research can help you find your course of choice.

Fall intake comes with myriad course options that you may choose from. 

Also, most courses offered during the September sem are pre-requisites for the ones offered during the January intake.

Acceptance Rate

Comparatively lower

Higher. However, admissions depend on merit rather than on the intake.


Less competition with fewer applicants.

With respect to campus placements, January students would have to figure out what sort of companies would visit their campus in the future. You might also have to look for jobs off-campus. 

Will have to face fierce competition given that most applicants prefer the Fall or September intake.

Accommodation Availability

Most universities guarantee accommodation to all admits at halls, dorms and others if you submit the housing and meal plan contract during the fall. However, this entirely depends on the university.

Scholarship Availability

Those applying for January would be given a number of joint and external scholarship opportunities. They might have a different application process but are applicable only if you already have a conditional or unconditional offer from the university.

Although financial aid is not restricted to any intake, universities usually offer a higher number of scholarships to fall applicants. 


Comparatively fewer universities offer January intake. You must check with your desired university to ensure when they open applications to international students.

The Fall/September intake is the most popular intake abroad, thus ensuring that most universities admit international students during this sem.


Visa approval or rejection does not depend on the time of application and is entirely based on your profile.

However, in countries like the UK, January students can receive a visa extension for 18 months whereas September students can get it for 15 months. So, if you choose Fall, you may get additional time to search for a job or plan ahead.

January Intake: Pros and Cons

Pros of Applying for Spring/January Intake:

  • It will give you a good opportunity to prepare for the upcoming Fall intake by taking a Foundation pathway, A levels or Pre-sessional English Preparation courses. This way, you get to build your academic foundation and become ready for university/college-level classes in a foreign country.

  • You may take time off from school and utilise it to travel, volunteer, work, build your resume or simply chill before embarking on this new journey.

  • Given that most students have already settled in by the January intake, your start or first semester would be relatively peaceful.

  • As mentioned earlier, competition may be somewhat less than fall. So, chances of getting admitted to your dream school are pretty great.

  • Upon completion of the study, there would not be a glut of qualified new graduates flooding the job market. September students may graduate somewhat earlier, but those few extra months of work experience would hardly make any difference.

  • Starting in January can be quite pleasant weather-wise when the winter is already is at its peak and it only gets warmer ahead.

Cons of Applying for Spring/January Intake:

  • You may be grouped together with students admitted in the Fall semester, who will have an advantage of one semester over them.

  • January admits usually do not have enough financial aid or scholarship options, as compared to September students.

  • Job opportunities during study may be fewer for Spring applicants as all available posts would have already been taken up by Fall students. 

Also Read: How to Successfully Apply to Popular USA Universities?

September Intake: Pros and Cons

Pros of Applying for a September/Fall Intake:

  • The biggest advantage of the September intake is that you would have a wide range of courses to select from. Most colleges abroad offer almost all courses in the fall, thereby, allowing you to opt for any course offered by any college you like. 

  • A lot of student club recruitments and on-campus jobs are filled during the fall semester, ensuring that you have quite an eventful semester ahead. Fall admits also have an advantage in terms of campus recruitments given that they would already have completed three semesters by the time campus recruitments are organised

  • If you apply to a university in the September semester, you would have the option of trying again and applying for the January intake. This would not be possible if you only apply for the spring intake as the fall deadlines may already have passed.

  • When it comes to assistantship opportunities, fall students generally have an edge over spring admits as they have already interacted with professors through their coursework. So, their chances of securing the assistantship may be higher.

  • The number of financial aid sources is much higher in the Fall semester when compared to the January intake.

Cons of Applying for a September/Fall Intake:

  • Usually, programmes that begin in September offer the core course requirements in the first semester, along with certain electives. The more advanced courses may be offered in the spring semester. This means that you might have to wait until the next semester to take up specific courses.

  • Taking into account that not that many universities abroad offer spring admissions, the applicant pool can get relatively more competitive. This may, thus, lower your chances of securing admission to your desired university.

January Vs September Intake: Which is Ideal for You?

Yes, there are a lot of things to factor in when deciding which semester to apply for. And, let’s face it, even after going through these differences, you might be confused. Well, it does take a little while to plan and navigate the entire process.

So, coming back to the question, you are the best judge to decide which intake to opt for. However, make sure to make this decision after you have all your requirements and criteria in one place. From analysing when to appear for tests to figuring out when you would be ready to fly out, each step is crucial. 

Get Your Study Abroad Application Reviewed by Our Ivy League Experts!

We would suggest you to get in touch with the best study abroad consultants for guidance on overseas education at abroad@collegedekho.com to plan each and every step carefully. 

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