U.S University Intake Seasons: A Guide for International Students

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Admissions

Fall, spring, and summer – these are three main intake seasons in U.S colleges and universities. You’ve probably come across mention of these U.S university intake seasons in your university research process.

What exactly do they mean?

Which months of the year do the semesters fall in?

Which is the best intake season for international students?

Let’s delve into everything you need to know about U.S university intake seasons and semesters as an international student.


The Fall Semester (August to December)

The Fall semester typically starts in August or September. As the first semester of the year, this semester has the most popular intake season.

We highly recommend the Fall intake to international students for the following reasons:

  • More options available: Many universities have more course offerings, majors, and concentrations during the Fall semester. Therefore, international students can have more choices to tailor their academic goals and needs.
  • More funding opportunities: Many universities offer scholarships, assistantships, and grants that are only available for Fall intake students. Applying for the Fall intake will, therefore, increase your chances of receiving financial aid.
  • More time to adjust: The Fall semester typically lasts for 4-5 months, which gives international students more time to adjust to their new environment, make new friends, and explore the campus and surrounding area.
  • Better weather conditions: The Fall season in the United States has mild temperatures, and the weather conditions are usually pleasant. This makes it easier for international students to adjust to the new climate and avoid harsh winter conditions.
  • Easier visa processing: The visa processing for the Fall semester is usually faster and more straightforward because it’s the most common intake season. Additionally, international students who apply for the Fall semester can use the summer months to complete any necessary visa processing and prepare for their arrival in the United States.

Fall Application deadline: Most top universities have a deadline for application submission for the Fall intake by around November/December of the previous year. However, if you are interested in lower rated universities (A-, B, B+, or C+), their application deadlines will be around February or March of the same year. For some universities rated C- and D grades, the deadlines for fall admissions may extend to June or July.


The Spring Semester (January to May)

The Spring semester typically starts in January and ends in May. This semester is less popular than the Fall semester but still a viable option if you miss the Fall deadline or if you prefer to start your studies in the Spring.

Here are some considerations for international students who are considering the Spring semester:

  • Limited course options: Compared to the Fall semester, universities generally offer fewer course options and majors during the Spring semester. International students should check the university’s course offerings to make sure they can find the classes they need to fulfill their academic requirements.
  • Funding opportunities: While there may be fewer funding opportunities available during the Spring semester, some universities offer scholarships and grants for international students starting in the Spring. If you’re considering applying to start in the Spring, check with your university’s financial aid office to see what funding options are available.
  • Shorter time to adjust: The Spring semester usually lasts for around 3-4 months, which can make it challenging for international students to adjust to the new environment, make new friends, and explore the campus and surrounding area.
  • Weather conditions: The Spring season in the United States can be unpredictable, and the weather conditions can vary greatly depending on the region. Before making a decision on which intake season to go for, research the climate of the area where their university is located and prepare accordingly.
  • Visa processing: The visa processing for the Spring semester can be more challenging because it is not as common as the Fall semester. Some consulates may have limited appointment availability. Plan accordingly and allow enough time to complete the visa process before the start of the semester.

Spring Application Deadlines: Top universities (rated A and A+) have their Spring application deadlines  March or April of the same year. However, universities rated A-, B, B+, or C+, have their application deadlines around July or August of the same year. Some universities rated C- and D grades may have deadlines for spring admissions in October or November.


The Summer Semester (May/June to August)

The shortest of the three semesters, the Summer spans a period of two months – from around May/June to August.

Few universities have a Summer intake – especially for international students. It’s primarily for students who want to take courses during the summer or want to get a head start on their studies before the Fall semester.

Summer semester courses are usually condensed and taught at an accelerated pace, which can be challenging for international students who are not familiar with the American academic system.

Summer Application Deadlines: Deadlines for the Summer semester are typically in March of the same year.


Advice from 8B

If you’re considering pursuing your degree in the U.S, we highly recommend applying for the Fall intake. The Fall semester offers a wider range of course offerings, funding opportunities, and favorable weather conditions.

However, if you miss the Fall deadline or prefer to start your studies earlier in the year, the Spring semester is a viable alternative.

Regardless of the intake season, carefully consider these factors:

Having these factors in mind will help you when deciding on the best option for your academic goals and needs.

Note: Not all universities offer admissions for all three semesters. Check with the universities to know which intake season is available and the deadline for submitting applications.

Do you need more support with your college applications? Join the 8B Community to connect with peers, college admission professionals, and mentors to guide you for a smoother study abroad journey.

Do you need financing to pursue your degree abroad? Use the 8B loan comparison tool to find affordable, no-cosigner education loans for African students in global universities. 

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