The University of Oxford’s acceptance rates

Everything You Need to Know

The University of Oxford is one of the most internationally esteemed universities and offers world-class teaching. It is also the oldest university in the English-speaking world. If you’re considering applying to Oxford University, you’re probably wondering about acceptance rates and what it takes to get in. This guide will explore everything you need to know about Oxford’s acceptance rates.

If you’re generally curious about how to get into Oxford University, check out our previous guide.

What are university acceptance rates?

University acceptance rates refer to the percentage of applicants who are offered admission to a particular university or college. Acceptance rates vary by institution and programme and are influenced by factors such as the number of applicants, the quality of applications, and the availability of resources such as faculty members and facilities.

Universities typically use a holistic admissions process which takes into account a range of factors such as academic performance, extracurricular activities, admissions tests, and interviews. Generally, acceptance rates are a good indicator of how popular the university is, how prestigious it is, and how difficult it is to get into.

Remember to check the acceptance rate for your specific course at Oxford because it does vary! It is important to do your own research when it comes to your chosen course so that you are aware of everything you need to know about the entry requirements and admissions process. Information about specific courses at the University of Oxford can be found here.

What is Oxford’s acceptance rate?

Oxford University is one of the most prestigious and competitive universities in the world, with an undergraduate acceptance rate of around 15-17.5%, and a postgraduate acceptance rate of about 30%.

Oxford University acceptance rates vary significantly by subject and college. For example, some subjects, such as Computer Science and Mathematics and Statistics, are more competitive, with acceptance rates as low as 5%. On the other hand, some colleges are more selective than others, with acceptance rates ranging from 6% to 19%.

If you’re set on going to Oxford University but you’re daunted by its selective admission rate and high entry requirements, don’t be. The Profs are here to help you. We have a team of talented tutors, as well as experienced Oxford admission tutors. Helping students get offers to top-tier universities is our speciality. We can help you to increase your chances of success.

Oxford’s entry requirements

If you want to stand a chance at getting into Oxford, applicants must meet Oxford’s admission requirements by proving excellent academic ability.

Oxford has very high academic standards, and grade requirements vary by subject. Generally, successful applicants will have outstanding academic records, with strong grades in relevant subjects. Most subjects require from A*A*A to AAA, though this varies depending on the subject. Requirements for equivalent international qualifications can be found here. Specific subject requirements also differ depending on your chosen course, so don’t forget to research your specific programme.

Additionally, applicants must submit a strong UCAS application with an excellent personal statement. They must also perform well on the admissions test for their chosen subject. If students do progress to the next stage of Oxford’s admissions process, they are likely to be invited to an interview which will determine whether they receive an offer.

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. 

What universities have the most competitive success rates?

Admissions rates tend to be more competitive when it comes to Russell Group universities, especially Oxbridge universities. The higher in ranking the university is and the better its reputation, the more applicants it receives, and the more selective it can be. Oxford is globally recognised as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, thus it boasts a low admissions rate.

Oxford is currently ranked:

Given Oxford’s outstanding reputation, it can afford to offer one of the most competitive application processes in the UK with an extremely selective acceptance rate.

Does Oxford have the most competitive acceptance rate in the UK?

Oxford is recognised as having one of the most competitive acceptance rates in the UK.

Generally, Oxford places in the top bracket for most competitive UK universities, meaning it has one of the most elite acceptance rates. However, exact numbers vary depending on the desired course and college. They also may change from year to year.

Below is a table detailing the number of accepted undergraduates to Oxford, alongside the acceptance rates of the other most competitive UK universities (2020).

UniversityAcceptance rate
University of Oxford17.5%
University of Cambridge18%
Imperial College London20%
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)21%
University College London (UCL)22%
University of St Andrews22%
Durham University25%
University of Warwick25%
University of Bristol26%
University of Edinburgh27%

Is Oxford or Cambridge harder to get into?

Both Oxford and Cambridge are highly competitive universities with similar acceptance rates. As you can see in the table above, Oxford’s general acceptance rate was 0.5% lower than Cambridge’s in 2020. However, this can vary annually.

It is also important to note that acceptance rates and entry requirements vary by subject and college, making it difficult to determine whether Oxford or Cambridge is harder to get into. Oxford has a higher acceptance rate for some subjects, while Cambridge has a higher acceptance rate for others.

Ultimately, the decision of which university to apply to should be based on your chosen course at that university, personal interests, academic strengths, and career goals.

Students who wish to study at Oxbridge should remember: you can’t apply to Oxford and Cambridge at the same time!

Here at The Profs, we have a dedicated team with plenty of experience in Oxford applications. They can assist you in making the decision best suited for you, as well as with your admissions process. Thanks to our services, students who work with us are over 3 times more likely to gain admission to their first or second-choice university.

Acceptance rate at Oxford: Which courses have the most competitive acceptance rates?

The acceptance rate for undergraduates varies greatly depending on the course. Oxford has some particularly competitive degrees. If you’d like to gain admission into Oxford, it’s worth considering the varying acceptance rates per course.

Take a look at the table below, detailing the acceptance rates for Oxford’s most competitive courses and/or popular courses (2007-2022).

CourseAcceptance rateNumber of applicants
BA/MMatd Mathematics and Statistics4.6%262
BA/MCompSci Computer Science4.6%843
BA Economics and Management5.2%1732
BMBCh Medicine7.6%2054
BA/MBioMedSci Biomedical Sciences7.9%558
BA/MCompPhil Computer Science and Philosophy8.6%151
BA/MMatdCompSci Mathematics and Computer Science10%603
BA/MMatd Mathematics10%1732
BA History and English11%121
BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)11%2300
BA Law13%1674
BA Law13%1674
BA/MPhys Physics11%1630
MEng Engineering Science17%1097
BA Language and Literature25%942
BA History25%933
MChem Chemistry23%862
BA/MPhysPhil Physics and Philosophy9.2%174

Alternatively, if you’re curious about applying to one of Oxford’s courses with the highest acceptance rate and/or least competition, look at the table below.

CourseAcceptance rateNumber of applicants
BA Music54%146
BA European and Middle Eastern Languages48%31
BA Modern Languages47%371
BA Classics46%252
BA Modern Languages and Linguistics40%86
BA Theology and Religion38%112
BA Classics and English37%35
BA Geology / MEarthSci Earth Sciences33%111
BA English and Modern Languages32%99
BA Physiological Sciences29%95
BA Philosophy and Modern Languages25%63
BA History and Modern Languages28%83
BA Ancient and Modern History27%98
MEng Engineering, Economics and Management (EEM)11%100
BA Archaeology and Anthropology18%103

For information on the acceptance rates for Oxford’s postgraduate courses, check out this page.

What is the acceptance rate of Oxford’s colleges and which are most competitive?

The University of Oxford is made up of 39 colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls (PPHs), which are similar to colleges. Each college has its own unique character and history and offers accommodation, social and cultural activities, and academic support to its students.

In 2020, Nuffield College had the lowest acceptance rate at 5.9%, with only 346 applicants competing for 20 places. Nuffield is a graduate-only college, known for its strong focus on Social Sciences, Economics, and Public Policy. Its small size and highly specialised academic programmes make it one of the most competitive colleges at Oxford.

On the other end of the spectrum, Harris Manchester College had the highest acceptance rate at 18.9%, with 336 applicants competing for 63 places. Harris Manchester is unique among Oxford’s colleges in that it admits only students aged 21 and over, and has a strong focus on mature students and those with non-traditional academic backgrounds. Its relatively high acceptance rate reflects its commitment to widening access and promoting diversity among its student body.

Take a look at Oxford’s colleges listed below, along with their acceptance rates and number of applicants (2020):

CollegeNumber of applicantsAcceptance rate
All Souls College1557.1%
Balliol College1,65918.5%
Blackfriars2334.8%
Brasenose College1,57516.1%
Campion Hall229.1%
Christ Church3,27016.8%
Corpus Christi College1,00515.9%
Exeter College1,58016.7%
Green Templeton College12910.7%
Harris Manchester College33614.9%
Hertford College1,33663
Jesus College1,64118.9%
Keble College1,60398
Kellogg College18911.8%
Lady Margaret Hall1,10818.8%
Linacre College50410.7%
Lincoln College1,29913.8%
Magdalen College1,89715.2%
Mansfield College68617.6%
Merton College1,51115.6%
New College3,02714.5%
Nuffield College3465.9%
Oriel College1,47218.7%
Pembroke College1,34114.8%
The Queen’s College1,78518%
Regent’s Park College14617.3%
St Anne’s College1,62017.7%
St Antony’s College1,26110.9%
St Catherine’s College1,18616.8%
St Edmund Hall1,20016.6%
St Hilda’s College1,11417.1%
St Hugh’s College1,33418.3%
St John’s College1,88612.8%
St Peter’s College1,34817.3%
Somerville College1,19116.7%
Trinity College2,37910.9%
University College2,42917.3%
Wadham College1,56811.8%
Wolfson College72516.5%

Acceptance rates can vary from year to year and by subject; these figures are just a general indication of the acceptance rates for each college at the University of Oxford.

It’s worth noting that acceptance rates shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when choosing a college. Each college has its own unique culture, facilities, and resources, and it’s important to choose a college that feels like the right fit for you. Applicants should research the different colleges and their strengths, and consider factors such as location, accommodation, academic programmes, campus culture, and extracurricular activities when making their decision.

Please note: Applicants can choose to apply to a specific college, or they can make an open application and be placed by the university in a college with available spaces. Additionally, acceptance rates and entry requirements can vary significantly by college and subject, so it’s important for applicants to research the different colleges and their strengths before making a decision.

The Oxford acceptance rate for international students

Oxford states that its graduate acceptance rate remains just as competitive for international students. Check out the table below to view the overall admissions applications and offers for international students (2021):

International studentsApplicantsOffersStudents admittedProportion of total applicantsProportion of total students admitted
EU Students2,1361661288.8%3.9%
None-EU Students7,80160847932.1%14.5%

International applicants may face additional challenges, such as language barriers and differences in education systems when applying to Oxford. However, the university offers a range of resources and support to help international students throughout the application process, including guidance on admissions tests and English language requirements. Information on this is provided here.

To demonstrate their proficiency, international applicants to the University of Oxford are typically required to take an English language proficiency test, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test. The specific test required and the minimum score needed may vary by course and college.

In general, applicants to Oxford must achieve a minimum score of 7.0 on the IELTS, a minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL, or a minimum grade of B on the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test. However, some courses and colleges may require higher scores or have additional language requirements, so applicants should check the specific requirements for their chosen course and college on the university’s website.

Also note: International students who have completed their secondary education in English may be exempt from the English language proficiency requirement. Additionally, some colleges and departments offer language support and courses for students who need additional help with their English language skills.

More information on this can be found on Oxford’s international students page.

Oxford seeks inclusivity and diversity

It’s worth noting, that despite Oxford’s selective admissions process and competitive acceptance rate, the university makes an effort to welcome a diverse student body. Oxford takes pride in its ongoing work to up the intake of students from underrepresented backgrounds; it claims to afford all deserving students the opportunity to secure a space at Oxford.

Between 2017 and 2021, Oxford increased the following within its body of UK undergraduate students:

  • The proportion from government-run schools increased from 58.2% to 68.2%.
  • The proportion identifying as Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) rose from 17.8% to 24.6%.
  • The proportion from socio-economically disadvantaged areas grew from 10.6% to 17.3%.
  • The proportion from areas of low progression to higher education increased from 12.9% to 17.0%.
  • The proportion with a disability rose from 7.8% to 11.6%.
  • The proportion of women rose from 50.0% to 55.2%.

What can I do to increase my chances of getting into Oxford?

If you’d like to study at Oxford, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of acceptance.

Firstly, make sure you have a strong academic record with excellent grades in relevant subjects. Secondly, take advantage of extracurricular activities that demonstrate your interests and skills, such as volunteering, leadership positions, and relevant work experience. Finally, prepare thoroughly for the admissions test for your chosen subject, and practice your interview skills. Take a look at our guide on how to get into Oxford!

If you need help to nail your A levels and meet Oxford’s entry requirements, or with doing your absolute best in the admissions process, The Profs are here to help. We can guide you through getting top grades, writing an excellent personal statement, and even delivering a fantastic interview. We have a 95% success rate of students receiving an offer from their first or second choice university, and we specialise in Oxbridge applications. The Profs can help you stand out to the admissions committee as well as continue to support you academically once you become an Oxford student.