How to go to Oxford as an American

The University of Oxford has an outstanding reputation for its academic excellence and its standing as the oldest university in the English-speaking world. If you’re looking to attend one of the best universities that the UK has to offer, Oxford is up there. 

The UK has a very specific university application process; Oxbridge is particularly demanding. So, if you’re applying from the US or another country, it’s worth taking some time to understand what’s expected from you. 

Whether you’re a US applicant or another international applicant, this article will guide you through how to apply to Oxford University, and better yet, how to get an offer! 

You can also check out our previous articles:

Here at The Profs, we have an experienced and talented team of admissions experts who can guide you through Oxbridge admissions. They have a success rate of triple the national average when it comes to getting students an offer from Oxbridge! If you want to maximise your chances of getting into Oxford, we’re who to call.

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Oxford’s acceptance rate for international students

Today, one-third of Oxford’s students, including 21% of undergraduates, are international citizens from over 140 countries. The most popular country outside of the UK that students are admitted from is China. 

It’s good to be aware that UK-domiciled applicants are substantially more likely to receive an offer from Oxford than students from outside the UK. However, the proportion from non-EU countries has increased to 16.8% from 14.1%. 

Also note that, with the exception of Medicine, Oxford does not operate quotas or targets around the nationality or domicile of students admitted to the University. 

Check out the table below, based on 2022:

RegionApplicationsOffersStudents admittedProportion of total applicantsProportion of total students admitted
UK14,5692,8062,59661.2%79.4%
EU1,7871631247.5%3.8%
None-EU7,46367655131.3%16.8%

In 2022, there were 2,706 US applicants and 164 of these were admitted. You can find more information regarding this (including numbers regarding applicants from other specific countries) here.

Intimidated by Oxford’s acceptance rates? Don’t be. Our expert admissions team specialises in Oxbridge as well as US to UK admissions. If you’re looking for someone with the know-how to guide you to success, it’s us!

Understanding Oxford’s requirements for US applicants

Oxford sets high academic standards for its applicants, usually ranging from A*A*A-AAA. This is equal to a GPA of 4.30 to 4. So, you should be aiming for the highest grades possible. Below is a direct outline of the US entry requirements for Oxford University:

UK Entry requirementsUS Entry requirements
A level: A*A*AFour APs at grade 5.

OR

Three APs at grade 5 plus a 33 or above score in the ACT or 1480 or above in the SAT.

A level: A*AAFour APs at grade 5.

OR

Three APs at grade 5 plus a 32 or above score in the ACT or 1470 or above in the SAT.

A level: AAAFour APs at grade 5.

OR

Three APs at grade 5 plus a 31 or above score in the ACT or 1460 or above in the SAT.

Please note that the above entry requirements could also include subject requirements related to your chosen course. 

You should also note that, even though the UK considers the grades in your final two years of high school with far more weight than the rest of your high school grades, you should still ensure that your previous high school grades are as high as possible. This is because top UK schools, particularly Oxford, are likely to evaluate your whole academic history. 

It could also boost your application to highlight any exceptional academic achievements or awards. 

You can find more information on Oxford’s US entry requirements, as well as plenty more international entry requirements here.

If you are worried that your grades aren’t high enough to get into Oxford, reach out to our team. We have excellent tutors in the US and UK curriculum, as well as SAT and ACT and more. We also have skilled subject-specific tutors in every topic! Just let us know what you need or the result you’re seeking, and we’ll take care of you.

Please note: If you receive an offer from Oxford it will most likely be conditional, meaning you must meet their specified academic requirements to keep your offer.

Scholarships and financial aid for international students

Oxford offers a range of scholarships and bursaries specifically for international students e.g. the Hill Foundation Scholarships, Palgrave Brown Scholarship and Reach Oxford Scholarship

You should also have a look at the Rhodes Trust and Clarendon

Check out this page to see the various scholarships available and determine if you meet the eligibility criteria. Apply for these scholarships alongside your regular application process to maximise your funding opportunities.

9 tips for Oxford’s application process: US applicants edition 

To get started, familiarise yourself with Oxford’s application process. 

For undergraduate studies, US students must apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (the UCAS application form). This is an online application for five UK universities of your choosing. 

Usually, UCAS deadlines are in January, however, Oxbridge deadlines fall earlier in October. So, you must start early and be organised. 

Pay attention to the course code and college choice within the UCAS form.

There could also be further deadlines for extra requirements, so always check your course page carefully.

Please note that postgraduate applications are made directly to the university via the Oxford University Graduate Admissions website. 

Don’t forget that The Profs are here to help you every step of the way. If all of this is overwhelming or confusing, just contact our admissions team and we can support you through the whole process. 

Ensure that you:

1. Start early:


Give yourself ample time to research, prepare, and complete your application. You might struggle to meet certain requirements or be surprised by some expectations. So, it’s best to allow yourself lots of room to complete everything to the best of your ability as Oxford hosts a very competitive admissions process with earlier deadlines than most other UK universities.

It’s a good idea to notify your high school in America that you intend to apply to Oxford so that they can offer you some support and guidance with your application. 

Begin at least a year in advance to ensure you have enough time to study for standardised tests, write a compelling personal statement, and gather supporting documents.

Starting early can also allow you to consider options like completing a course at one of Oxford’s Summer schools prior to your application. This could boost your chances of getting an offer by proving that you’re committed to Oxford and that you’ve already got some experience with university-level study and Oxford’s teaching style.

2. Choose the right course:


UK undergraduate courses work differently from the US. You cannot minor in a mix of subjects and choose your major later down the line. Usually, you choose one subject as a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BSc (Bachelor of Science) course, unless you select a double-subject course (a joint honours degree). However, Oxbridge is unique in only offering BA courses for undergraduates, even for typically BSc disciplines (see here).

So, you need to be certain about your desired discipline as there is often little room to venture outside of this discipline within your degree (excluding interdisciplinary options). 

Oxford offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses across various disciplines. Begin by exploring their official website and familiarise yourself with the different programmes available. Reflect on your academic interests and career goals to select the course that aligns with your aspirations. Consider the subject and grade requirements as well as any additional admission tests or interviews that may be required for your chosen course (these are different for each course).

You might also want to consider taking an undergraduate course at a US university that offers a year-abroad programme at British universities, including Oxford. You would still need to apply to Oxford and meet entry requirements, but it could be a little less competitive. Oxford has information on this available here

Unsure about what the right course is for you? Our knowledgeable team offers friendly and dedicated support.

3. Research Oxford’s colleges:

Oxford has over 30 colleges so it’s a good idea to research each one and decide which you are more suited to. When choosing a college, be aware of the subjects your college offers as well as what departments it specialises in. Is this college suited to your academic and personal interests? Can it facilitate your goals? More information on Oxford’s colleges can be found here.

You will be able to select a college preference as part of your application, so you shouldn’t waste this opportunity. It could also demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in Oxford, have researched it, and are thinking ahead. 

Also, have a look at Oxford’s clubs and societies.

Note: you might be assigned a different college to the one you select as part of your application.

4. Meet the academic requirements

As previously mentioned in the table, you must meet Oxford’s academic requirements which range from A*A*A-AAA. 

Aim for the highest grades possible, especially in your two final years of high school. Also, try to study subjects related to your chosen discipline. Unlike the US, the UK expects your grades to be in subjects related to your discipline. 

Remember, Oxford’s main criterion is academia, so your grades are of utmost importance.

Ensure that you know the grade and subject requirements for your specific course.

If you are worried that your grades aren’t high enough to get into Oxford, reach out to our team. We have excellent tutors in the US and UK curriculum, as well as skilled subject-specific tutors in every topic! Just let us know what you need or the result you’re seeking, and we’ll take care of you.

5. Prepare for The University of Oxford’s SAT or ACT requirements:

The ACT or SAT

Oxford does not typically expect all US applicants to submit standardised test scores, and it has no preference for the ACT or SAT. 

However, as demonstrated in the entry requirement table above, if you are a US applicant without four APs at grade 5 you will need to submit an ACT or SAT score of a certain grade. You might also find this to be the case if you are applying from another country outside the UK.

Even if you meet the entry requirements without an ACT or SAT score and are not required to take a test, you might still opt to do so to make your application as competitive as possible. A high standardised test score could help prove your academic aptitude and boost your chances of success.

To get into Oxford, you want to achieve high in the ACT or SAT. If you need help with this, reach out to our talented team of tutors who have plenty of experience helping students ace these standardised tests.

The English language proficiency test

International students may need to demonstrate English language proficiency through exams like the TOEFL or IELTS unless they have always been a resident of an English-speaking country. More information on this can be found here.

Need support smashing your English language proficiency test? We’ve got you covered.

Admission Tests

Many courses at Oxford require applicants to take admission tests, such as the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA), the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT), or the Law National Admissions Test (LNAT). 

Oxford might also ask applicants for one to three examples of written work fitting a specific outline.

Familiarise yourself with the specific requirements for your course and check if you are expected to complete an admissions test or hand in any supplementary material. If you are, start preparing with ample time so that you can apply all your efforts. Oxford runs a holistic application process, so they will consider the quality of this work as much as your general academic performance.

There are resources available online, including sample questions and practice tests, to help you prepare effectively. Here at The Profs, we can guide you through smashing any admission test as we have expert tutors for each niche. Oxford also has a page dedicated to its admissions tests. 

6. Craft an impressive personal statement:

In the US, you write a statement of purpose. However, in the UK, we write a personal statement. This is much more specific and academically focused than a statement of purpose. 

In the US, the discussion is quite broad and you can usually choose from a set of prompts/titles to guide you. The statement of purpose works as an introduction, where the university meets you, the real you. 

However, in the UK, our statements are supposed to demonstrate why we are an excellent student and the perfect student for our chosen course at our desired university. Hence, our statements stay on one constant topic: our discipline. Our statements should be subject-specific and remain focussed on our degree throughout. 

Personal statements differ from the US style in that they are far less personal and much more academic. The UK doesn’t care so much about all your activities and extracurriculars or even your family and home life, they just want to hear why you’re the right person to enrol on this course. So only mention extracurriculars that prove academic aptitude or your suitability and genuine passion for your course.

Similarly, unlike US applications, strong UK applications seldom mention experiences, awards, activities and achievements that are completely irrelevant to our subject or academia. However, in some cases, you might be able to demonstrate your link.

Personal statements also don’t mention specific universities by name. However, as a US student, it’s a good idea to mention why you want to study at a UK university, especially if the reason is related to your chosen course! 

For example, you might say that you want to study History in the UK because the UK is home to far older buildings than the US, and is closer to European countries like Greece which have fascinating ancient ruins. Or you might say that you’re eager to study for an undergraduate degree in the UK rather than the US as your course will be far more focussed on your subject of interest from the start.

Another difference in the UK style of writing is that it avoids humour and cliches e.g. a pet peeve of many UK admissions officers is reading the word “passion” in applicants’ personal statements.

A big focus for Oxford is “potential”. Do you have the potential to succeed, and how do you demonstrate that? What potential do you show?

So, don’t submit your statement of purpose to Oxford, if you’ve written one. Write a personal statement, especially for this objective. As you’re writing, try to tick off these points:

  • What is your mission statement?
  • Why have you chosen this course?
  • How do you align with Oxford as a university?
  • What’s special about your department at Oxford?
  • Does any of your department’s research at Oxford stand out to you?
  • Are you in cohesion with Oxford’s ethos?
  • What is your precise career plan?
  • Why do you need this degree to reach your goals?
  • What awards and achievements etc prove your academic aptitude and transferable skills?
  • What experience and research prove your passion for this subject?

Please note: When you upload a personal statement to UCAS, it will be sent to all 5 universities of your choice. Hence, it’s best not to specifically name Oxford or write directly to Oxford as you will alienate your other choices. However, you can allude to Oxford.

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate this step. The personal statement is a vital component of your Oxford application. It is largely this essay and the quality of your grades that will determine whether you get an interview.

Worried about your writing skills, or fretting over what to say? We know how to help! Here, at The Profs, we have excellent personal statement and writing tutors with plenty of experience who can help you craft a compelling body of work. If you need any assistance, just reach out.

You can also check out our previous article on UK personal statements which can offer some helpful tips for this step.

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

7. Obtain outstanding letters of recommendation:

To be considered, you must submit a recommendation from a teacher or someone else who is qualified to comment on your academic ability (not a family member). 

There will be 3 main sections:

  • A section for the referee to enter a general statement about your school/college/centre.
  • A section for the referee to enter any information on extenuating circumstances (if applicable).
  • A section for the referee to enter any supportive information specific to the applicant and relevant to the course/s applied for that the institution should be aware of.

Oxford’s guidelines for letters of recommendation can be found here. UCAS provides specific information relevant to 2024 entry changes here.

Remember to choose individuals who know you well and can provide specific examples of your achievements and potential. Also, if there are things you’d like them to mention for you, ask them!

8. Prepare for the interview:

Oxford conducts interviews for most of its undergraduate courses to assess candidates’ academic potential and suitability for Oxford. So, if shortlisted, you will most likely be invited for an interview in December as part of the admission process. 

Interviews for 2024 entry will be held online.

Oxford wants to see if you would fit in with Oxford’s community, and your college in particular, as well as how you think.

If you’re shortlisted, be ready to demonstrate your subject knowledge, critical thinking skills, and ability to engage in thoughtful discussions. Practise mock interviews and run through likely questions. Oxford interviews are renowned for their academic rigour, so it’s important to prepare thoroughly. 

Review your application materials (including your personal statement and CV), research your chosen course, and practice answering challenging questions related to your subject area. Additionally, think about experiences or achievements you might want to mention. If you get to the interview, you will need to demonstrate your ability to think critically and engage in intellectual discussions during the interview.

As an international applicant, it’s worth preparing some talking points as to why you would like to complete your degree in the UK, and more specifically, why Oxford. How did you hear about Oxford University and why does it appeal to you? This is especially relevant if you’re coming from the US which has plenty of renowned universities of its own, like Harvard, or another country with outstanding universities.

It’s worth noting that Oxford’s interview process is far different from most US universities. US universities often host conversational interviews that aim to get to know you as a person and are relatively informal. 

Oxford, however, is more on the formal side and they care less about who you are, and more about what kind of student you would be. Oxford wants to test your subject knowledge and how you think on your feet; Oxford wants to see that you fit their teaching style and would be a good addition to their seminars. 

Be sure to check out our previous article on preparing for an online interview and our video on how to smash a university interview. 

Worried about your Oxford interview, or any university interview for that matter? You don’t want to fall at the last hurdle. Your interview performance is crucial! Reach out to our experienced interview coaches for expert guidance.

9. Seek guidance:

Consider working with one of our experienced Oxbridge admissions tutors who can provide personalised guidance, review your application, and help you polish your essays. 

We have a track record of success in applying to top-tier universities like Oxford and Cambridge. In fact, our Oxbridge success rate is triple the national average! If Oxford is your dream, take every step to make it happen and reach out to our expert team.

Remember to check the official Oxford University website and relevant scholarship pages for the most up-to-date information on requirements, deadlines, and available scholarships.

Get your UK student visa!

Well done if you gain admission to Oxford! It is only now that you can apply for a student visa as you’ll need evidence of your agreement to attend Oxford.

If you’re going to study for a full degree, you must apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa. However, if your degree programme is 6 months or less, you need a Student Visitor Visa.

You can apply online, via the visa application centre in your home country.

Remember: apply at least three months before your course in the United Kingdom begins!

How we can help

Gaining admission to Oxford University as a US student requires dedication, hard work, and careful preparation. By seeking guidance from our experienced and accomplished Oxbridge admissions team, you can maximise your chances of achieving your dream of studying at Oxford. 

We have special expertise in US to UK admissions and our success rate for getting students into their first and second-choice universities is over 95%! If you’re serious about having a future that involves Oxford, do all you can to secure this!

We offer a talented team of tutors, including specialists in:

We are here for every step of the process. Call us for an Oxford application review and a bespoke plan of action. There’s no reason you shouldn’t succeed! Just reach out to join our winning team.

FAQs

Does Oxford accept American students/Can US students apply to Oxford University?

Yes, Oxford University welcomes applications from international students, including those from the United States. The university values diversity and actively encourages applications from students around the world.

What are The University of Oxford’s SAT requirements?

If you are a US applicant without four APs at grade 5 you will need to submit an ACT or SAT score of a certain grade. You might also find this to be the case if you are applying from another country outside the UK. SAT requirements range from 1460-1480 depending on your chosen course.

What are the admission requirements for US students applying to Oxford University?

US students applying to Oxford University must meet the same academic requirements as UK students. This includes submitting strong academic transcripts, standardised test scores (such as SAT or ACT), and a well-written personal statement showcasing their passion for the chosen subject.

Are there any specific scholarships available for US students at Oxford University?

Yes, Oxford University offers various scholarships specifically for international students, including those from the US. These scholarships are designed to support talented students who may require financial assistance to study at the university. More information on this is available here.

How competitive is it for US students to get into Oxford University?

Admission to Oxford University is highly competitive for students from all backgrounds, including US students. The university receives a large number of applications each year, and the selection process focuses on academic excellence, personal achievements, and potential for success.

However, it’s worth noting that UK-domiciled applicants are substantially more likely to receive an offer from Oxford than students from outside the UK.

In 2022, there were 2,706 US applicants and 164 of these were admitted. You can find more information regarding this (including numbers regarding applicants from other specific countries) here.

Are there any cultural or academic differences US students should be aware of when applying to Oxford University?

US students should be prepared for some differences in the academic system and teaching style at Oxford University. The tutorial system, which involves small-group discussions with tutors, is a unique feature of Oxford education. It is important for students to adapt to this interactive and rigorous learning environment. Additionally, familiarising themselves with British culture and traditions can enhance their overall experience at the university.