How to Get into Cambridge as An Indian Student [2024]

How to get into Cambridge university from India? If this is a question that you’re grappling with, then you’ll find most of the answers here.

Set up in 1209, the University of Cambridge has always been a centre of excellence in almost all fields of study. While past glory does add to its daunting stature, the university has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge research. According to QS rankings of world universities, the University of Cambridge stands second (Source: QS Top Universities 2024).

The fact is that thinking about getting into Cambridge can be daunting for students. Many aspiring international students tend to avoid applying there, assuming that it is almost impossible to get in. But, here’s the thing – over 40% of the students enrolled in Cambridge are of international origin. The acceptance rate in the last few years has been around 20%, a number far higher than any of your Ivy-League colleges in the U.S. So, it’s worth a shot if that’s your dream.

In this article, we will be looking at:

Why Study at Cambridge as an Indian Student?

While one cannot call Cambridge admissions ‘easy’, jumping over those hurdles means you have kickstarted your career into high gear. When you graduate from the University of Oxford or Cambridge, you are already part of the elite echelon, sought after by the whole world. Here are some of the reasons why you must consider studying at Cambridge as an Indian student.

1. Global Recognition

Graduating from Oxford or Cambridge makes you one of the most sought-after professionals. Recruiters will attempt to court you and the doors will open more easily for you than other global ed students. No one can question your professional pedigree and the Cambridge work ethic also means that you are prepared for thinking on your feet, crisis management, and critical thinking.Even at the undergraduate level, over 92% of their graduates find suitable jobs or enrol themselves in graduate studies within 15 months graduating.

2. Cutting-edge research and critical thinking

The name, the ‘University of Cambridge’ often creates an image of walking down stone buildings in long frock coats and having philosophical debates while sipping on tea. While this might fit the Cambridge ethos, let us not forget that the city of Cambridge and the surrounding towns are nicknamed Silicon Fen. Moreover, the university’s research, especially in STEM, is so advanced that you will be studying with or working under some of the best and brightest in your field.

One of the privileges of working in a world-class university is that you also build your critical thinking abilities. Your academic performance is not only dependent on how much information you can remember but also on how you can apply yourself and contribute your own ideas to the field. Imagine going there, right after your high school. Your entire perspective about higher education gets shaped by the academic stalwarts at Cambridge.

3. Cambridge Supervisions

Just like the Oxford Tutorials, the University of Cambridge is known for ‘Supervisions’. This de facto becomes one of the primary teaching-learning models on campus. It is essentially where undergraduate degree students are taught by doctoral or post-doc fellows in small groups (a typical group is from one to three students) on a weekly basis. Each student has no choice but to be fully prepared for these sessions. The goal of these sessions is to communicate, defend, rationalise, analyse and critique ideas in small groups to build critical thinking skills.

4. Access to resources

Considering its history, it comes as no surprise that Cambridge has one of the largest libraries in the world. But that is not the only resource in consideration here. The standing of the university means that numerous scholars, researchers, and people at the top of their fields often visit or address students at the university.

4. Iconic Alumni

Studying at Cambridge means you are joining the group of iconic alumni that includes Sir Issac Newton, Alan Turing, Francis Bacon, Sylvia Plath, Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, and many more. 121 Nobel laureates are alumni of Cambridge.

5. Networking opportunities

In addition to the supervision sessions, the number of societies and clubs will give you immense networking opportunities. If you start building professional and personal relationships while at university, you will enter the workplace arena, armed with a wealth of contacts.

6. Life on Campus

You also get to spend three-five years on a beautiful campus that is well connected to London. You also get to interact with thousands of students from across the globe and delve into diverse experiences as an international student. You can explore the history of the university or stroll down the glorious gardens.

How much does it cost to Study in Cambridge for an Indian Student?

Structure of Cambridge University

Before we delve into the financial side of things, let us take a quick look at how the university functions. The University is an aggregation of a variety of institutions including 31 semi-autonomous colleges and over 150 academic departments. The academic departments are categorised under 6 schools: School of Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Physical Sciences and Technology.

All students, however, are part of one of the 31 colleges. The university in itself does not have the main campus but is made of individual college campuses scattered throughout the town of Cambridge. The colleges are essentially self-governing institutions, controlling their own memberships and with their own internal structures and activities. The degree that you get will be conferred by the University.

Fee Structure: How much does it cost?

Considering it is one of the top universities in the world, the fees at Cambridge University cannot be tagged ‘affordable’. Typically, postgraduate fees are higher. Especially for students from India, when conversion rates are applied, the numbers do get larger. That said, do not get disheartened, for your return on investment is just as big.

Here’s a ballpark figure, in rupees. (This is subject to change based on conversion rates also.)

B.A. / B.Sc 3 – 4 years 21 – 35 lakhs
BBA 3 years 21 – 23 lakhs
B.E. / B.Tech 4 years 30 – 35 lakhs
MBA 12 months ~60 lakhs
MBBS 6 years ~60 lakhs
M.A. / M.S. / M.Sc 9 – 36 months 20 – 40 lakhs

Disclaimer: These are ballpark figures to give you an idea so that you can work on your financial planning. Note that these are tuition fee figures. You can add about 7 – 10 lakh annually, for the cost of living and other miscellaneous expenses.

Scholarship options for students from India

While the numbers do seem staggering, there are also a multitude of scholarship options that are provided by the university, the government, or private trust funds. Some of these scholarships cover the cost of living and travel, in addition to tuition.

Take a look at some of the scholarships, particularly suited for students from India.

Cambridge Trust Scholarship: Students can apply for this through the university portal. The trust offers a complete fee waiver program for undergraduate study, and graduate and doctoral programs. Multiple specialised scholarships are also offered by this trust. Check out the entire list, here.

Oxford & Cambridge Society of India: It is open to Indian students pursuing an undergraduate program, a graduate program, or a Ph.D. From the 1960s till today, one eligible scholar has been selected for this.

SGPC Cambridge Scholarships: Meant for international students applying for postgraduate degrees, this scholarship is offered only to the Sikh community students.

The Commonwealth Scholarship & Fellowship Plan: This fellowship is open to English-speaking candidates who have not turned 40. Open to both Science and Humanities disciplines, academic achievement is the criteria to win this one.

Rhodes Scholarships: One of the most prestigious scholarships worldwide, it is typically awarded to five Indian students. Academic excellence is the primary criterion. It covers the tuition fees plus offers a monthly stipend.

This list is merely a sampler of the kind of scholarships that exist for Indian students. Way more options exist, that you can find in your research or ask the experts at TC Global to help you with. Application for scholarships is a separate procedure with its own sets of documentation. Some are applied for, along with your university application while many of them can be accessed only when your enrolment at Cambridge has been finalised. It is a lot of research and even more paperwork but it is a worthwhile effort to ease the financial burden of global education.

Applying for scholarships also means you need to have a proper plan and a timeline of events in advance. They have precise deadlines and a lot of requirements that you will need to stay on top. Considering the stress that aspirants might go through, it is easier to have an international education consultant who is far more experienced in the planning and documentation side of things.

What are the Eligibility Criteria?

It’s important to ensure that you have the eligibility to begin the application process. There are some specific requirements that you will need to satisfy for some courses. You can look them up, here.

That said, we look at some general entry requirements that every applicant to Cambridge must have before beginning the application process.

Academic Requirements

For Undergraduate Courses

For undergraduate admissions at Cambridge University, a typical Indian Class XII certificate is not considered sufficient. The university typically looks at GCSE or A-level exams. They will be considered competitive if a prospective candidate can supplement them with additional qualifications.

Minimum Marks to be scored in Class XII

  • IB (A level): 40-42 points out of 45, with 776 in Higher Level subjects
  • CISCE and NIOS: 90%
  • CBSE: A1
  • State Boards: 95%

Additional Qualifications

  • Advanced Placement Tests (AP Tests) are offered by College Board. A candidate must score Grade 5 in five or more AP Tests.
  • For students applying to any of the Engineering programs or the Natural Sciences, the IIT-JEE (Advanced) test will be considered if the candidate ranks lower than 2,000.
  • For some courses like Maths, Computer Science, Engineering, and Economics, you will have to take up the Cambridge entrance exam called STEP, which tests qualities like test qualities like insight, problem-solving, and the ability to use standard techniques in unusual ways and situations. Read more about STEP,here.
  • Note: The minimum requirement of test scores varies with each course.
  • Admission Tests: Some of the programmes at Cambridge University also require you to take specific entrance tests. Originally, you have to take the BMAT to study medicine, LNAT for law, the ENGAA for engineering courses, the NSAA for sciences and veterinary medicine and the TMUA admission test if you want to study Computer Science or Economics. However, from October 2024, Cambridge will be using the UCAT assessment for medicine and the Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT) for degree programmes in Engineering, Natural Sciences, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and Veterinary Medicine.

For Postgraduate Admissions

The minimum requirement is a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a relevant field from a well-ranked institution. The candidate must have scored an overall grade of 75% or a CGPA of 8.0 or higher. A few courses might also have an admission test, depending on the department’s decision.

This will be supplemented by the GRE/ GMAT score.

English Language Proficiency Tests

Three tests are typically accepted by the University of Cambridge: IELTS, TOEFL, ESOL – CAE, and CPE. Now, the minimum score to meet language requirements varies depending on the course that you are choosing.

Typically, your overall IELTS/ TOEFL-iBT score criteria is 7.5/ 110 or above. The tests should not be older than two years from the date of application. If you are taking up the ESOL exams (English for Speakers of Other Languages), a minimum CAE score of 193 and a CPE score of 200 is required.

Other documents

  • 1. Personal Statement or SOP: A personal statement in the U.K. is vastly different from the rest of the world. The maximum word limit is 800 words, wherein over 90% of it is academic. The format of your SoP can/ might change depending on the course that you are applying to.
  • 2. Letters of Recommendation: Letters of Recommendation (LoRs) are written by teachers, tutors, and guidance counsellors. Depending on the course, you furnish the number of LoRs.
  • 3. Finance Statements: These are statements that show your ability to fund the course.
  • 4. Immigration Documents: A valid passport is a must. In order to study in the U.K., having migrated from India, a student must have a Tier 4 student visa. The student visa application process should begin as soon as you have received your conditional acceptance from the University of Cambridge.

How to Get Admission to Cambridge University from India: Admission Process

Having gone through the number of things that you need to be prepared for, you know that the task is not easy. Each step carries a specific deadline. The typical application deadline for the University of Cambridge is the 15th of October for courses that begin in the subsequent academic year.

The application process in itself is two fold: You complete the UCAS application form and subsequently also fill up COPA. Let us get those acronyms sorted out first. UCAS stands for ‘Universities and Colleges Application Service’. It is a centralised portal through which you can apply to most of the universities and colleges in the U.K. Here is more about UCAS, if you are interested.

COPA stands for Cambridge Online Preliminary Application. When applying to Cambridge University, you are expected to fill out both the UCAS application and the COPA form simultaneously. This is so that the university has access to your details directly without having to wait for UCAS to share data. The COPA form also has more details for you to fill up, things that are not asked for in the UCAS form.

You must be extremely careful to ensure that there is no discrepancy between the two forms, whether it is your choice of course or college or the spelling of your name. It does become a stressful route where you start preparing at least a year in advance before the application deadline. You need superhuman organisational skills to keep track of everything. If you are adding scholarships into the mix, it does it get a little bit crazy.

So, you choose the easier path and get onboard with TC Global. TC Global functions as a one-stop shop for all your international education application needs. From counselling sessions to choosing your course and test prep all the way till your immigration and investments in your life abroad, TCG stands with you every step of the way. Let us take a look at what the application process looks like, through TC Global.

Step 1: Choose the right course

Before you even think of applying, delve deep into the fields that you are interested in and what you would like to pursue. Check the course contents and syllabi online so that you know you are getting what you wanted. Feel free to reach out to student communities at Cambridge via social media and get all your questions answered.

You can also reach out to us at and schedule a counselling session or aptitude tests to figure out which course would be the right fit for you.

Step 2: Log in to the TC Global Student Portal

Once you have an idea about what you want to study, visit and “Get Started”.

Step 3: Update your Profile

Once you have logged in, update your profile, especially your Education and Work background and your Study Plans. This will help us tailor-fit our recommendations for you.

Step 4: Choose Cambridge University and the Course

It is this portal that makes your life so much simpler. Everything you need to know about a university or course is collated here. You don’t have to go hunting around the university websites. So, select Cambridge University and take a look at our exhaustive list of courses.

If you are the kind who knows precisely what you want, you can narrow the filters using many criteria, such as which intake, English proficiency test and so on.

Step 5: Read up and Shortlist

The website will give you the top options, keeping in mind your profile and your preferences. Click on any of the courses or search for them and get an overview in one go. All of these are accessible to anyone, for free. All you need to do is sign up.

Step 6: Read more on Insights

Check out Want the latest updates about countries or courses? TCG Insights has it. Plus, it comes with an easy search option for you to specifically look for our research on any of the countries or courses.

It is important for you to look into each of the courses, in addition to just knowing the specialisation. Insights might just be the place that will give you insights into how each of the universities design their courses.

Step 7: Schedule a Session and Apply

Once you have all the information that you need and have shortlisted all the courses, you begin the application process. You can schedule a meeting with one of our Relationship Members. From here on in, it will not be a bot assisting you but an experienced member of our team who will guide you through the process of applying to all your shortlisted universities. Your TC Global Student portal will help you with deadlines, checklists, tests and a one-shot platform to monitor all your applications’ progress. Besides, our RM will be with you every step of the way. Now that you know the process, Cambridge is at a hand’s reach. Look out for the dates they open applications and begin to gear yourself a year in advance, with TC Global.

Going to Cambridge

If the application is done well (with all the criterion diligently looked into), students from India stand as fair a chance as any other student from other parts of the world. You need to give it your best shot and the truth is, if Cambridge is your target, then you need to start looking at the criterion (especially the grades) a lot earlier and start working towards it. This can’t be a last-minute application. You may know all the details on how to get into Cambridge university from India, but you’ll need to plan much in advance. Moreover, it’s important to get the right guidance. We, at TC Global, can help you with that. You can reach out to us here. Alternatively, you can chat with us on What’s App (link on our home page) and we’ll get you started 🙂

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