The University of Oxford received up to 25,000 applications last year from students all over the world vying to be part of this illustrious institution. Given the number of applicants every year its essential that you know exactly how to get into Oxford to stand out from the crowd. The school’s acceptance rate is nowhere as low as another similarly-vaunted university, Harvard University, which only admits around 4% of applicants, so if you meet the requirements, have a stellar Oxford personal statement, and ace any of the required entrance exams, there is a chance you can get into one of the highest ranked universities in the world. 

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18 min read

Mission Statement Admission Statistics Selection Factors Oxford Interviews How to Apply Tuition and Funding Opportunities List of Majors at Oxford Campus and Faculty Contact Information FAQs

Mission Statement

“The advancement of learning by teaching and research and its dissemination by every means.”

The first classes believed to have been given on the site where Oxford University is now were in the 1110s, so the university has had centuries to refine its mission to this simple sentence. The school’s reputation precedes itself so there is not much to add to the statement other than the fact that given the over 35 colleges that make up the school, students can find their own way to contribute to the school’s mission.

Want to learn 7 most important and easy ways to make your college essay stand out? Watch this video:

Admission Statistics

Percentage of Admitted UK Students: 79.4%

Percentage of Admitted EU Students: 3.8%

Percentage of International Students: 16.8%

Number of Applications: 23,819

Number of Admitted Students: 3,271

Acceptance Rate: 15.3%

Percentage of Admitted Students with AAA or Higher at A-Level: 60.8%

Selection Factors

Minimum Grade Average: Three AAA at A-level courses

The triple AAA grade is the UK equivalent to a 90% average for students coming from universities in Ontario or a 3.0 GPA for any students from the US. The AAA grade must be attained for only a certain set of Oxford undergraduate programs, as each program has unique requirements, and the school does not have a set of general admission requirements, although it recommends students have an overall GPA of 3.0. In addition to the various grade requirements, many programs at Oxford also ask students to submit written work, such as a college letter of intent or something similar so you should read up on college essay tips to help you stand out.

Oxford Prerequisites

There are over 60 different undergraduate programs available at Oxford and each one has its own requirements and prerequisites. But the requirements needed for entry are, variously, a combination of the following:

  • Minimum A or AAA grade in A-level courses
  • Written tests (program-specific)
  • Written work (personal statements, essays, research proposals; also, program-specific)
  • Interview

The school has an online program course listing, which lists every course’s particular requirement, which all vary across the various disciplines and subjects. For example, courses in liberal arts and humanities, such as Classics, History, and Philosophy all have specific entrance exams.

Classics applicants must take the Classics Admissions Test. History applicants must take the History Admissions Test; Philosophy applicants must take the Modern Language Assessment Test, and so on. The same applies to every program, but there are some, such as biology, chemistry, and music that do not require any entrance exams, except, they require applicants meet very different criteria, such as getting top grades in A-level chemistry and maths courses.

These entrance requirements apply equally to UK, EU and international students. International students must check the requirements of each course to ensure that they have met or are on track to meet the academic requirement with the equivalent grade given by their home country. The school provides a chart that international students can check to determine what their grades should be to be accepted into their particular program.

Oxford Personal Statement

The Oxford personal statement is one of the universal admission requirements for the school, as every student, regardless of program or origin, must submit a personal statement. But this is also because the unified application service used in the UK for undergraduates, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), requires all applicants to submit a UCAS personal statement, as part of their online application; similar to how all allopathic medical school students in the US must write an AMCAS personal statement when submitting their applications.

The statement should be a focused explanation of why you want to attend Oxford, what about your field of study interests you, and what you have done outside of academia to reflect your passion for this subject (extracurriculars for college), but also answer questions such as “why should we accept you?”, which is a common college essay topic.

Oxford Supplemental Essays

However, many programs ask for more than one piece of written work (STEM courses do not ask for written material beyond grades and entrance exams), so you need to be prepared to write at least two essays, depending on your program. What’s more, many programs have their own specific set of questions and prompts that you must respond to, so even if you read over all the college essay examples you can, you might still have to write a completely new essay according to a unique prompt or question.

For example, applicants to the Archaeology and Anthropology program must provide, along with their Oxford personal statement, two written pieces, which must be fulfilled by submitting an essay from their required course work, as well as a maximum 500-word essay answering the following question:

“What can we learn about people, either past or present, from their material culture?”

Here we’ll provide an Oxford personal statement example plus a few essays responding to the above prompt and more from other programs.

Oxford Personal Statement Sample

I’ll never forget the phrase that ignited my passion to attend Oxford. Despite all the renowned writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Oscar Wilde, who attended Oxford and have left an indelible mark on the world of literature, it was a writer from outside the traditional English canon that most inspired me. The statement is made by a character in V.S. Naipaul's novel, "The Mystic Masseur." In the book, the character claims that the Bodleian Library, nestled within the university, is the "center of the world."

That exclamation made me think it was the center of the world. At the age when I read it, I was not equipped to unpack or critique that statement, which I accepted blindly. Then, I was not able to intellectually spar with such a statement, which is problematic on so many levels, if viewed through the lenses I now have to interpret the world. Despite the fact that this powerful assertion resonated deeply with me, as it highlighted the significance and influence of knowledge and literature in shaping our understanding of the world, I intend to challenge the notion that this center lies solely within the realm of European literature.

Through my research and study, I hope to shed light on the vibrant written culture and traditions of different regions, from the vibrant storytelling of African authors to the poetic wisdom of Asian literature. My ultimate goal would be to share these insights and perspectives with other readers, inspiring them to embark on their own literary journeys and discover their personal "centers of the world" within their respective cultures.

By challenging the Eurocentric literary canon and amplifying marginalized voices, I aim to contribute to a more inclusive and diverse understanding of literature and its role in shaping our worldviews. In joining the English program at Oxford University, I am eager to engage in rigorous academic discourse, participate in seminars and tutorials, and collaborate with esteemed faculty and fellow students who share my passion for literature.

Oxford's academic environment, with its centuries-old traditions and emphasis on critical analysis, provides an ideal setting for me to expand my intellectual horizons and deepen my understanding of literature's transformative power. But the diversity and collection of curious, intellectually savvy minds here at Oxford is another important part of my project. Meeting people from all parts of the world is something that studying all the great English authors could never give me, and I plan to immerse myself in this new, multicultural community.

Through my studies, I aim to build a solid foundation in both canonical and non-canonical works, examining the intersections of culture, history, and literature. By exploring the multifaceted nature of literature, I hope to contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding representation, diversity, and the evolution of literary traditions. But I am most strongly committed to challenging the notion of a singular center and exploring non-European literary traditions, especially here at Oxford.

Oxford Secondary Essay Sample for Archaeology and Anthropology

Essay Prompt

“What can we learn about people, either past or present, from their material culture?”

I know material culture has a particular meaning in this context, but reading it in relation to how I see our modern-day culture made me shake my head. If material culture provides a tangible record of human behavior, beliefs, and societal practices, shedding light on our history, values, and aspirations, I think future generations will be scratching their heads trying to figure out a perplexing aspect of our existence: our reliance on and impact of materials that pose long-term risks to ourselves and the environment.

One striking example of our material culture is our growing dependence on electronic devices. These technological marvels have transformed the way we communicate, work, and entertain ourselves. However, future archaeologists may question why we were willing to produce vast amounts of electronic waste, disregarding the environmental consequences of our consumption patterns. Our discarded smartphones, laptops, and other electronic gadgets, filled with valuable metals and hazardous substances, will serve as relics of a society driven by innovation and convenience but seemingly blind to the long-term effects of its actions.

Plastics are another concerning aspect of our material culture that will no doubt puzzle future generations. They may marvel at our reliance on a material designed for durability and convenience but with devastating environmental consequences. They may question why we did not prioritize sustainable alternatives or invest more effort in waste management and recycling systems. They may also question why we allowed the production and usage of substances with long-term adverse effects on human health and the ecosystem.

Studying our material culture, future archaeologists and anthropologists will undoubtedly grapple with the complex factors that influenced our choices. They may uncover the intricate web of economic, political, and social forces that shaped our material preferences and consumption patterns. They may analyze the cultural narratives and marketing strategies that perpetuated the allure of disposable products and constant technological upgrades. They may explore the dynamics of power and profit that influenced our decisions regarding waste management and environmental protection.

However, amidst these perplexing discoveries, our material culture also offers glimpses of hope and resilience. Future generations will find artifacts and initiatives that reflect our growing awareness of the environmental crisis and our efforts to mitigate its impacts. They will encounter movements advocating for sustainable practices, innovative technologies aimed at recycling and reducing waste, and shifting societal values towards conservation and preservation.

The study of material culture provides a profound understanding of people, both past and present. Examining the remnants of our civilization, future archaeologists will confront the perplexing realization that our reliance on electronics, plastics, and forever chemicals had far-reaching consequences for ourselves and the environment. However, they will also uncover the seeds of change and resilience, offering valuable lessons for shaping a more sustainable and responsible future.

Oxford Secondary Essay Sample for Philosophy and Theology (no prompt)

In applying to the Philosophy and Theology program at Oxford University, I am eager to immerse myself in dynamic academic inquiry, engage in critical dialogue, and examine the profound questions surrounding the existence of faith. I aspire to deepen my understanding of the complexities inherent in religious belief and the philosophical underpinnings that shape our understanding of faith and its implications for human experience, ethics, and existential meaning.

In contemplating the intricacies of faith, I have explored the enigmatic nature of this concept and the contradictions and arguments that surround it. Søren Kierkegaard, a prominent figure in existentialist philosophy, offered a thought-provoking maxim that encapsulates the paradoxical nature of faith. He posited that "faith has never existed, precisely because it has always existed", which suggests that faith, by its very essence, eludes objective verification and empirical proof.

It resides in the realm of subjective experience, defying traditional modes of understanding and rationality.

This notion challenges conventional notions of knowledge acquisition and invites an exploration of the existential dimensions of faith. Exploring contemporary thinkers, I encounter Richard Dawkins and his influential work "The God Delusion." Dawkins takes a staunch atheistic stance, arguing against the existence of a divine being and critiquing religious faith as irrational and detrimental to human progress. He employs scientific reasoning and empirical evidence to challenge religious claims, asserting that faith is a product of human imagination and societal conditioning.

Contrasting Dawkins' perspective, Alvin Plantinga, a renowned philosopher of religion, proposes the notion of "warranted Christian belief.", which offers a robust defense of faith as a rational and warranted cognitive stance. He argues that religious beliefs can be grounded in personal experiences, philosophical arguments, and the integration of reason and revelation. Plantinga's exploration provides a nuanced counterpoint to the criticism of religious faith, offering a philosophical framework for understanding and justifying religious belief.

At Oxford, I look forward to engaging in rigorous academic discourse, attending seminars, and participating in theological and philosophical discussions that will challenge and refine my understanding of faith. The university's diverse range of courses and interdisciplinary opportunities will enable me to approach the study of faith from various angles, integrating insights from philosophy, theology, history, and other relevant disciplines. By immersing myself in this multidisciplinary approach, I will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the intricate relationship between faith and its social, cultural, and historical contexts.

With a better understanding of faith cultivated through my studies at Oxford, I aim to pursue a graduate degree in another discipline, perhaps international relations, political science, or economics; I have not yet decided. However, I am leaning toward economics, because of the almost mythical “faith” we have invested in economic policy and structures. I wish to examine how to evolve out of our blind faith toward monetary and trade policy and explore how faith-based principles can inform sustainable economic models, social entrepreneurship, and responsible business practices.

Oxford Interviews

Another inescapable part of how to get into Oxford, the Oxford college admissions interview is something that all applicants must undergo to be admitted. Unlike colleges in the US and universities in Canada, Oxford interviews every undergraduate applicant, despite the high number of applicants every year. Every program has its own interview criteria and not every applicant is invited to an interview.

Tutors, aka professors, review all applications and shortlist those who they feel are best suited to the program. If you are not invited to an interview, this, unfortunately, signifies your application has been unsuccessful. If you are invited to interview, then, you should prepare by getting someone, such as a college admissions consulting firm to show you how to prepare for a college interview.

For the upcoming application cycle, interviews will be held virtually. Each program has its own interview schedule and quantity, as some programs may want to interview you twice, rather than once. The interview format also depends on the program, and college. Some programs may give you material before-hand (artwork, book title, photograph) that you must respond to during the interview. Others may ask you more direct college admissions interview questions such as “tell me about yourself” and “what would you contribute to your future college campus community”. 

Interviewers are typically tutors, or professors, from the program or college you applied to specifically. The interviews are open-book, as well, so your interviewers will have your complete application (personal statement, transcripts, college recommendation letters) in front of them. However, another college or program may invite you to interview, if they feel your application is strong, so you may have many interviews to do, especially if you applied to more than one program or college. The school provides sample questions for each undergraduate program to help students prepare. Each program has a specific question, followed up by the type of response that would satisfy the interviewers given by a tutor from that particular program or college.

How to Apply

All applications to Oxford begin with the UCAS application. According to both Oxford and the UCAS timeline, you must apply for the upcoming year’s term so that means you have to start your application in the summer before you plan to attend. The entire process requires the following steps:

  • Registering on UCAS
  • Registering for and taking your entrance tests
  • Completing your written work
  • Submitting your full application

The final date to submit your completed application is October 16, but the final date to submit any relevant written work is on November 10, after which students are invited to interviews, throughout December. Students learn of their admittance to the program by January 9 of the year they plan to begin their studies. Admitted students are notified directly by the school and are then contacted by their respective college. Rejected students can request feedback from their college if they wish to re-apply next year.

Tuition and Funding Opportunities

Tuition for Home/UK Students: £9,250

Tuition for EU/Overseas Students: £28,950 and £44,240

Living Expenses for All Students: £1,290 and £1,840/month

The school charges different fees for home (UK) students versus those it charges to EU or international students, which is a common practice. However, some UK students may be eligible to have their tuition fully covered via financial assistance – typically a loan sponsored by the government. But there are many more options and funding opportunities both for UK and international students available at Oxford, both internally and externally.

1. Crankstart Scholarships

This scholarships program is only available to students residing within the UK longer than five years. It is also meant for students who come from households earning less than £32,500 annually and require financial assistance to complete their studies. There is no separate application form for this scholarship, as all students who meet the base criteria:

  • Be a resident of the UK for longer than five years
  • Be earning their first undergraduate degree in the UK
  • Come from a household earning less than £32,500

Will automatically be awarded the bursary, which also includes other benefits, such as mentorship opportunities, career guidance, but responsibilities as well. Scholarship recipients must complete up to 25 hours of volunteer work every year for the duration of their time at Oxford.

2. Oxford Bursaries for UK Students

Oxford itself also helps students pay for school, as it regularly awards bursaries to students who fit certain criteria, namely, household income level. Similar to the FAFSA application in the US, UK students admitted to Oxford must complete a Financial Assessment Form and submit it to Oxford. The school will then award non-repayable bursaries to UK students based on their household income level. The bursaries range in value from £1,000 (for the least disadvantaged) to £4,000 (for the most disadvantaged).

3. Simon and June Li Undergraduate Scholarship

This scholarship was endowed by Simon and June Li expressly to help students from Middle Eastern, Central and Southeast Asian nations enrolled in their third or fourth year who are pursuing a degree in Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division. But new students may also apply. The scholarship covers tuition and living expenses for one student, and is renewable for the entire course of study, provided the winning student maintains their academic standing and regularly reports on their progress to the scholarship foundation.

4. Palgrave Brown Scholarship

This is a partial scholarship offered by Oxford to students from Eastern and Central European nations who require assistance to complete their studies at Oxford. There are no restrictions on the course of study and students can use the scholarships for the duration of their studies, if they remain in good academic standing and continue to demonstrate financial need. Only one scholarship is awarded per year and the amount (£13,365/year) is intended to cover living expenses and other costs associated with studies at Oxford.

List of Majors at Oxford

The number of degree programs available to undergraduates at Oxford is small compared to the hundreds of options available to students thinking about how to get into UCLA or how to get into Stanford University. There are only four undergraduate degree possibilities offered in a number of different majors, with the four degrees available being:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA)
  • Bachelor of Theology (BTh)
  • Bachelor of Education (BEd)

However, all humanities, arts and language bachelor degrees offered at Oxford last only three years, but STEM students have the option to take a fourth year to receive a Master’s degree, rather than a BA. So, students majoring in biology can opt to either graduate with a BA (three-years), or a Master (four-years). The four-year option does not exist for non-STEM subjects, such as history or English.

But, should you pursue a master’s or PhD at Oxford, the graduate arts and humanities programs at Oxford require an entirely separate application process, which means writing an Oxford PhD proposal or graduate school statement of purpose, which are some of the admission requirements for the Oxford graduate school. The following majors are only a small sample of what the school offers, so make sure to check the website for more options and details about all the relevant admission requirements.

1. Biomedical Science 

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Grade and Course Requirements: A* AA or higher in two A-level math, chemistry, biology, or physics courses

Admission Test: Biomedical Admissions Test

Degree Options: BA or MBio

Written Work: No

Students who graduated from this program at Oxford were lucky, as 80% of graduates were either still studying the subject or found paid work associated with the degree. The Biomedical Science degree program offers students interested in a career in medicine or healthcare a solid foundation to build their knowledge of medical and biological science. The courses emphasizes both classroom instruction, lab work and research experience, especially in the optional fourth-year, which will give students more exposure to research practices and opportunities.

2. Biology

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Grade and Course Requirements: A*AA or higher in biology and either chemistry, physics or mathematics

Admission Test: n/a

Degree Options: BA or MBiol

Written Work: No

One of the few science programs that do not require an entrance exam, students entering this program must register for the four-year Master degree, but can choose to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in their third year. If they decide to progress to the final fourth year, they must achieve above-average academic standing and maintain it. The program is intended to prepare both students new to biology and those who are already familiar for further study into more specialized areas such as cell biology, molecular biology or ecology. Students who do decide to continue into the fourth year are required to complete a capstone research project and choose a faculty member to show them how to write a master’s thesis proposal. 

3. Geography

Acceptance Rate: 20%

Grade and Course Requirements: A*AA in any A-level course; A-level geography recommended Admission Test: Geography Admissions Test

Degree Options: BA

Written Work: No

The geography degree at Oxford is one of the exceptions to the four-year degree program for STEM subjects, as it is only available in a three-year bachelor degree. There are also no hard admissions requirements, and eligible students must have only one A* or higher in any A-level course. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the geography degree combines many different subjects including climate change, inequality, globalization and the extinction of many plants and animals. Fieldwork and research are mandatory aspects of the degree and students will take several planned excursions to various important sites around the UK. Students will also learn important research, critical thinking and qualitative skills as they will need them to properly complete their studies.

4. Economics and Management

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Grade and Course Requirements: A* or A grade in A-level math

Admission Test: Thinking Skills Assessment

Degree Options: BA

Written Work: No

One of the most popular undergraduate courses at Oxford for the ratio of applicants to positions (18.9), the Economics and Management course is a primer for anyone thinking of attending the Oxford Saïd Business School, which, according to many MBA rankings, is considered one of the best MBA programs in the world. The faculty and courses in the E and M program straddle the business and academic world, as students will benefit from the real-world expertise of their tutors, who have crafted a program that address modern currents in business, finance, and business administration. But, despite, its business pedigree, the course offers more theory and foundational management knowledge than project-based learning, even though many of the classes are given at the Saïd Business School.

5. Computer Science

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Grade and Course Requirements: A* or higher A grade in A-level math; additional A-level math, or computer science courses recommended

Admission Test: Mathematics Admissions Test

Degree Options: BA or MCompSci

Written Work: No

According to Oxford admissions data, computer science is its most popular (and most difficult to get into) undergraduate course, as its ratio for number of applicants for each place is 20.2. This program is so popular because of the demand for skilled computer scientists, which can lead to high starting salaries right out of university. Some graduates have reported earning up to £52,000 immediately after graduation. The courses grounds its academic offerings in theory over practice, although students who choose to pursue the master’s degree have to present a research project in their final year, but that only takes up about 40% of the final year.

Campus and Faculty

Oxford University is a “city university” in that it does not have a main campus or building, but is rather woven into the fabric of Oxford (the city) itself, meaning elements of the university, be they lecture halls, classrooms, colleges, research centers, student residences and cultural buildings, are spread throughout the city. The most famous buildings associated with Oxford, such as the Bodleian, Radcliffe Camera, and the Sheldonian Theatre are used both by university students and everyday residents of Oxford.

The 39 colleges associated with the school are organizational as they are not associated with any particular department or program, and play host to several different programs. Students do not usually choose their college, but belonging to a college is a key part of being admitted to Oxford and they can choose one on their application. However, the school may often assign a student to a particular college so that all incoming students are evenly spread out throughout the college system.

Faculty and Alumni

There have been over 70 Nobel laureates associated with the University of Oxford with the earliest being in 1927, and the most recent being in 2022. Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner, earned a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Bill Clinton completed a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford and is the only US president to have attended. Close to 30 British Prime Ministers have graduated from the school, along with the man credited with inventing the internet. Stephen Hawking, T.E. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Indira Gandhi, and Thomas Hobbes are all graduates, as well.

Contact Information

Oxford Undergraduate Admission

University of Oxford

University Offices

Wellington Square



United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 1865 270000


1. What is the mission of University of Oxford?

The mission of the University of Oxford is to spread knowledge and learning throughout the world by any means. 

2. What are the GPA requirements to get into the University of Oxford?

The university has a specific UK-based grading system, but each program at Oxford has its own specific grade requirement. The base requirement suggested by Oxford is a single A* or higher in an A-level course, which is the equivalent to a 3.0 GPA in the US. 

3. Is it hard to get into Oxford?

Despite its elite pedigree and international reputation, it is not impossible for anyone to get into Oxford, if they meet the requirements of their course, which is standard for entering any undergraduate program. UK students do have an advantage, as many more UK students are admitted than EU or international students. But the overall acceptance rate of 15%, which is about the same as the University of Cambridge, but much higher than another elite and international institution, Harvard University. 

4. Is Oxford an Ivy League school?

No, Oxford is not part of the Ivy League, as that is a designation for elite schools in the US. However, Oxford is often rated as one of the top five universities in the world, according to the Times of London Higher Education World University Rankings. While, according to the Times Good University Guide, it is the number 1 university in the world, for almost eleven years running. 

5. What are the qualities that University of Oxford looks for?

Oxford looks for several qualities in candidates but it is most focused on your academic ability and passion for your particular subject.  

6. Does Oxford require interviews?

Yes, the school, or individual programs, all interview prospective students to determine their suitability for their particular program. Only select applicants are invited for an interview, meaning if you are not sent an invitation to interview then your application has been terminated. 

7. Does Oxford have a waitlist?

The school does have a college waitlist for all undergraduate admissions. But there are other acceptance options as well. Some students may be directed to a preparatory program or Foundation course that will help them attain the academic scores and intellectual stamina to attend the full degree course. Others are offered conditional acceptances so they must improve an aspect of their application the school has found to be lacking or wait until their final grades have been released. Open offers are for applicants who have been accepted into their program, but have yet to be accepted into a college, which is a requirement of attending. 

8. Do I need to ACT or SAT scores to Oxford?

No, the school will not recognize any test results from the US, but each program at Oxford has its own admittance test, which all applicants must pass for entry into the program. The BMAT and TSA are only two of the tests required, as each program uses one in accordance to its subject matter. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

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