Which Intake Season to Choose: Fall or Spring?

By Subhashri Roy Updated On - Jun 30, 2022 04:22 PM

January vs September (Fall vs Spring) 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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Deciding between different intakes, i.e. January or September Intakes to study abroad? Worry not! In this article, we will discuss the differences and similarities between the two most popular intakes to study abroad across different countries.

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 and more students from across the world have been keen to study abroad, now more than ever. However, unless you have adequate information about, the mistakes to avoid while applying for studies abroad when to apply to foreign universities or which admission intake abroad 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 or Winter Intake), whichever is best for you. Let us talk about the differences between the two intakes.

Difference Between January and September Intakes Abroad: Fall vs Spring

Check out the table below to understand the major differences between the January and September Intakes to study abroad:


January Intake

September Intake


More opportunities

Less competition

Additional internships/courses

Early graduation

3 extra months of working


Limited courses offered

More courses are open


Fewer universities available

Variety of universities to choose from


Less competition

More competition

Acceptance Rate

High acceptance rate

Lower acceptance rate


Limited scholarship opportunities

Higher number of scholarships


No difference in accommodation

Check out the guide to accommodation, here


No impact on visa rejection or approval

Post-study stay back period might differ

Refer to the student visa guides, here

Before we dive into these differences in detail, let us first understand 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 offer international student admissions during the Spring Intake in the US. On the other hand, in New Zealand and Australia, February is known as the Fall Intake and July is considered the Spring Intake and both are equally popular.

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Major Differences Between January and September Intakes (Fall vs Spring)

Let us not study the major differences between the January and September Intakes (Fall and Spring) in detail:

Internship/Job Opportunities (Industrial Exposure)

Spring/January Intake: 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.

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

Courses (Offerings)

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

Fall/September Intake: Fall Intake comes with myriad course options that you may choose from along with a variety of university options. Also, most courses offered during the September sem are pre-requisites for the ones offered during the January Intake.

Universities (Availability)

Spring/January Intake: Comparatively fewer universities offer admissions during the January Intakes abroad. You must check with your desired university to ensure when they open applications to international students.

Fall/September Intake: This intake is usually the most popular abroad, thus ensuring that most universities admit international students during this sem specifically.

Competition (Applicant Analysis)

Spring/January Intake: Less competition due to 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. 

Fall/September Intake: Applicants have to face fierce competition given that most applicants prefer the Fall or September Intake.

Acceptance Rate (Admissions/Enrollment)

Spring/January Intake: With a smaller applicant pool for the January Intake, the acceptance rate would be higher.

Fall/September Intake: Since the applicant pool would be larger, the acceptance rate would be lower, meaning, your chances of enrolling in your dream university and course would be low.

Scholarship (Availability)

Spring/January Intake: Those applying for January Intakes abroad would be given a limited 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.

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

Similarities in January and September Intakes (Fall and Spring)

While there are so many differences, in some aspects between the January and September Intakes they are similar indeed. Let us read about these similarities between the Fall and Spring Intakes below:

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 different admission intakes. However, the accommodation available during the different admission intakes will entirely depend on the selected university.

Student Visa

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 the Fall Intake in the UK, you may get additional time to search for a job or plan ahead.

January Vs September Intake: Which is Ideal for You?

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 defined 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.

January Intake: Pros and Cons

Discussed below are the pros and cons of applying during the Spring Intake as an international student:

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 the Fall Intakes abroad. So, the chances of getting admitted to your dream university abroad during the January Intake abroad are pretty great.

  • Upon completion of your studies, the competition for relevant jobs may also be slightly less as the number of graduates entering the job market would also be less. The September Intake students may graduate somewhat earlier, but those few extra months of work experience would hardly make any difference.

  • Depending on the country, starting your courses abroad in January can be quite pleasant weather-wise when the winter is already at its peak and is expected to get warmer ahead.

Cons of Applying for Spring/January Intake

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

  • January Intake admits usually would not have the same number of financial aid or scholarship options, as compared to the September Intake students.

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

September Intake: Pros and Cons

Discussed below are the pros and cons of applying during the Fall Intake as an international student:

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 Intake, 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 Intake 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 during the September Intake, you would have the option of trying again and applying during 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 Intake students generally have an edge over Spring Intake 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.

Which Intake Season to Choose Between Fall and Spring and How?

While it is important to know the pros and cons as well as the major differences in choosing between the two major admission intakes in top study-abroad destinations for international students. However, it is even more important to know how to choose between the January and September Intake to study abroad. Listed below are some of the steps you can take when choosing the right admission intake abroad.

Step 1: Shortlist your Desired Universities and Courses

The first step should be deciding on the course you wish to study and the university where you wish to study. This will help you narrow down a major portion of the decision, as some courses are only offered during the September Intake while some may only be offered during the January Intake. On the other hand, some courses may be offered during both intakes, thus, giving you more opportunities to apply to your desired course and university.

Step 2: Read the Admission Policies and Requirements

The next crucial step is to read the admission policies and requirements thoroughly, as this is where you would find the relevant information regarding admissions during different admission intakes, i.e. January and September Intakes abroad. Moreover, the admission policies for each university and course will define the admission intakes for each course and the application deadlines for different admission intakes abroad.

Step 3: Collect Your Documents

Part of any admission process is submitting the necessary documents with your application form. Some of these documents may take some time to acquire, which in turn, could mean that you may not have the needed documents before the application deadlines for different admission intakes.

In cases where you do not have the necessary documents ready by the time of submitting your applications, you will find it easier to apply for the later or next admission intake.

Note: There will be other parameters and reasons that will affect your decision in choosing the right admission intake. One of the best ways you can choose the right admission intake is by connecting with experienced study abroad counsellors who can help you study at your dream university abroad.

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

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When should I apply for the summer intake in US?

If you are planning to pursue higher studies during the summer intake in US, it is advisable to start submitting your applications between November and January before the application deadlines. However, the application deadlines for the summer intake in US will be different across universities, therefore, check the individual admission requirements and deadlines before applying.

Is the January intake better than the September intake?

While there is no one specific answer to this question, the January intake can be better than the September intake when studying abroad if you wish to enrol at a popular university without wanting to face tough competition. While your graduation from the course will be three months later than those who applied during the September intake, the quality of education and job opportunities will be the same.

How should I choose between the January and September intakes to study abroad?

There are several factors that international students should consider when deciding on the right intake to apply to universities abroad. While choosing the most popular intake is the best option, you need to ensure that you possess the complete and correct documents as well as the admission intakes offered by the university for a particular course.

Which is the best intake in Australia?

Unlike the US, the UK and Canada, the best intake in Australia is the February intake, wherein the first semester commences during the months of February. Inevitably, the February intake is the primary intake and the July intake is the secondary intake. Moreover, few universities in Australia also offer admissions during the months of September and November.

How many admission intakes are available in Canada for international students?

As an international student, you will be able to apply to universities in the country via three intakes in Canada. The September and January intakes are considered to be the primary and secondary intakes, respectively, while the May intake is the least popular intake in the country. You are advised to apply to your desired universities and courses during the September or January intakes in Canada.

Do UK universities offer admission during the January intake?

Yes, UK universities offer admissions during the January intake, however, the number of universities offering admissions during this intake along with the number of courses available will be limited. Nevertheless, international students stand a better chance at enrolling at UK universities during the January intake as the competition among applicants will be comparatively less than the September intake.

Which intake is the best to study in the US?

If you are planning to study in the US, then the best intake you can choose is the September intake in US, as you will be able to choose from a variety of university options as well as course options. Moreover, with more scholarship opportunities and financial aid available to international students during the September intake in US, it is advisable to get yourself application-ready for the Fall intake.

Why is the September intake popular abroad?

The September intake in countries abroad is commonly seen to be the most popular choice among international students as a larger variety of courses as well as universities are on offer in comparison to the January or May intake. Additionally, the September intake also invites a larger number of invites to financial aid and scholarship opportunities, both generic and discipline-specific, for international students aspiring to study abroad.

Why study during the January intake abroad?

At most study abroad destinations, the January intake is the secondary intake in an academic year, where universities are commonly seen enrolling students to vacant seats in courses across different disciplines. The January intake allows for a less competitive admission process, further offering a better guarantee of enrolment, while also offering applicants additional time to acquire the necessary documents and funds needed to study abroad.

What intakes can I choose to study abroad?

Depending on the country, university and course you choose to study abroad, the admission intakes will vary. Popularly, universities and colleges often accept admissions during the September and January intakes, which are also known as the Fall or Spring/Winter Intakes across top study abroad destinations. Additionally, many universities also offer a third intake, commonly known as the Summer or May intake abroad.

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