Which Intake Season to Choose: Fall or Spring?


Subhashri Roy
Updated on Apr 12, 2023 04:34 PM IST

Fall vs Spring- which admission season should you choose? The Fall and Spring semester argument has a long history of perplexing international students to decide on the ideal time to study abroad. Read the article below to steer clear of the Fall and Spring confusion.

Which Intake Season to Choose: Fall or Spring?

Deciding between which intake season to choose Fall or Spring to study abroad? Worry not! Here, we will discuss the differences and similarities between the two most popular intakes to study abroad across different countries.

International students often struggle with understanding the different intakes for admission to foreign universities. The names of the three different intakes that universities offer—summer, fall, and spring— are based on the major seasons of the year. The academic calendar indicates that two of these semesters or intakes have a length of four months each, while the third has a length of three months.

Universities only grant admission to applicants during the Fall and Spring semesters. The reason for this is the diversity of applicants during different times of the year and the extensive requirements they have to fulfil for admission. The time involved in releasing results, and obtaining certificates, transcripts, and other documents affects a candidate's eligibility to enrol in a semester.

The controversy over Fall vs Spring admissions is an unavoidable refrain among international students. For all classes and courses, there are typically two entrance intakes per year at foreign universities. Unlike the Spring semester, which starts in January and closes in May, the Fall semester lasts from September through December. Academic institutions typically admit students in two intakes rather than merely one for two key reasons.  

First of all, having too many students in one semester is burdensome. The majority of international institutions receive thousands of applications each year, making it quite problematic for them to accept so many students at once. The best applications that they receive can be considered fairly with two intakes.

Secondly, by facilitating admission during the Spring semester, universities consider the various reasons why many students cannot apply during the Fall season.

We want you to be able to choose between the top two intakes abroad: September (also known as the Fall Intake) and January (also known as the Spring or Winter Intake), whichever is best for you. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss the major differences and similarities between these intakes, using which, you will be able to easily choose between the intakes.

Unable to Decide on Fall and Spring Semester?

Difference Between Fall and Spring Intakes Abroad

Several top universities in the world do not have any admissions openings for the Spring semester. Furthermore, recognising which colleges have distinct admissions requirements and those which do not is difficult. As a result, if you want to apply for the Spring semester, you need to conduct in-depth research to understand the admissions requirements. Before you embark on your preparation for tests like the IELTS exam, TOEFL exam, or GMAT exam, you should do this. You can ascertain your time constraints for your standardised exam preparation by making this early decision.

It is common practice for academic institutions around the globe to set intake limits on the number of enrolments per semester, specifically in the more selective colleges. The Fall semester is usually the primary intake in most countries and is, therefore, the primary option for most students. The primary intake will often consist of the largest availability of courses, scholarships and universities alike, with a higher competition as well, which reduces your chances of being enrolled in the top colleges of the world.

Meanwhile, the Spring intake is usually considered to be the secondary intake in most countries, which results in a limited number of course availability along with other academic and financial aid options. Thus, this makes the intake less preferable among prospective students, subsequently, reducing the competition, which leads to a better chance of enrolment at the best universities in the world.

Since the Fall semester marks the official start of the academic year, there may be greater possibilities for students to secure on-campus employment and internships, particularly for research-based courses. This is another argument in favour of Fall admission. Many professors start their research at the commencement of the academic session and do not hire new research assistants in the middle of the year. As a result, there are greater prospects to get research assistantships in the fall.

Furthermore, several students like taking part in extracurricular activities in a big way. The best course of action may be to apply for the Fall semester if you fall in this category. If you join the fervour later, it will be rather tough for you to take on leadership roles in student clubs. Check out the table below to understand the major differences between the Fall and Spring intakes to study abroad:


Spring Intake

Fall Intake


More opportunities

Less competition

Additional internships/courses

Early graduation

Three extra months of working


Limited courses offered

More courses are open


Fewer universities available

Variety of universities to choose from


Less competition

More competition

Acceptance Rate

High acceptance rate

Lower acceptance rate


Limited scholarship opportunities

Higher number of scholarships


Availability of accommodation will vary from university to university across different admission intakes. To find out more, you may check Guide to Student Accommodation Abroad.


No impact on visa rejection or approval. However, Stay Back Period and Post Study Work Permit might differ

While the names of the intakes used by universities for admissions across different countries are similar, it should be noted that the intake dates and deadlines will often be different depending on the admission timelines followed in each country.

For instance, the most common intake in the US is the Fall Intake although several universities offer international student admissions during the Spring Intake in the US. On the other hand, in New Zealand and Australia, February is known as the Fall Intake and July is considered the Spring Intake and both are equally popular.

Fall and Spring, Which Intake is Better to Study Abroad?

Major Differences Between Fall vs Spring Intakes 

One of the best ways to understand the two intake seasons is to understand the differences between the two. From internship and job opportunities to the availability of courses and scholarships and more, we have highlighted some major differences between two intakes that will be help determine which intake season to choose, Fall or Spring.

Internship/Job Opportunities (Industrial Exposure)

Spring/January Intake: Given that this is not the traditional time to apply for a new job, you are likely to find more job opportunities with less competition. If you take admission in the Spring/January Intake, you can use the fall period to take up some additional internships or courses that can be an add-on to your course.

Fall/September Intake: September students may graduate a little earlier and get a chance to work for three extra months.

Courses (Offerings)

Spring/January Intake: Many countries like the US, UK, and Canada, among others, might have fewer universities offering admissions during the January Intake. This further leads to fewer course options. However, good research can help you find your course of choice.

Fall/September Intake: Fall Intake comes with myriad course options that you may choose from along with a variety of university options. Also, most courses offered during the September sem are prerequisites for the ones offered during the January Intake.

Universities (Availability)

Spring/January Intake: Comparatively fewer universities offer admissions during the January Intakes abroad. You must check with your desired university to ensure when they open applications to international students.

Fall/September Intake: This intake is usually the most popular abroad, thus ensuring that most universities admit international students during this sem specifically.

Competition (Applicant Analysis)

Spring/January Intake: Less competition due to fewer applicants. With respect to campus placements, January students would have to figure out what sort of companies would visit their campus in the future. You might also have to look for jobs off-campus. 

Fall/September Intake: Applicants have to face fierce competition given that most applicants prefer the Fall or September Intake.

Acceptance Rate (Admissions/Enrollment)

Spring/January Intake: With a smaller applicant pool for the January Intake, the acceptance rate would be higher.

Fall/September Intake: Since the applicant pool would be larger, the acceptance rate would be lower, meaning, your chances of enrolling in your dream university and course would be low.

Scholarship (Availability)

Spring/January Intake: Those applying for January Intakes abroad would be given a limited number of joint and external scholarship opportunities. They might have a different application process but are applicable only if you already have a conditional or unconditional offer from the university.

Fall/September Intake: Although financial aid is not restricted to any intake, universities usually offer a higher number of scholarships to fall applicants.

Similarities in January and September Intakes (Fall and Spring)

While there are so many differences, in some aspects between the January and September Intakes they are similar indeed. Let us read about these similarities between the Fall and Spring Intakes below:

Accommodation (Availability)

Most universities guarantee accommodation to all admits at halls, dorms and others if you submit the housing and meal plan contract during the different admission intakes. However, the accommodation available during the different admission intakes will entirely depend on the selected university.

Student Visa

Visa approval or rejection does not depend on the time of application and is entirely based on your profile. However, in countries like the United Kingdom, January students can receive a visa extension for 18 months, whereas September students can get it for 15 months. So, if you choose the Fall Intake in the UK, you may get additional time to search for a job or plan ahead.

Fall vs Spring Intake: Which is Ideal for You?

As it may be evident, there are a number of parameters that need to be considered when determining the intake season you should apply to. Even though we have laid down the differences and similarities between the two common intake seasons, rigid planning and thorough research is the only way you will be able to determine the intake season that is perfect as per your requirements.

To answer the question “Which intake season is ideal for you?” it is pertinent that you define your criteria for your higher studies abroad and pen down those requirements for future references. It is important to plan out every move you make, including the timeline for when you should appear for entrance tests, to determine the dates for when you need to fly out.

To make it easier for you to decide, we have listed some of the pros and cons of choosing the Fall or Spring intakes.

January/ Spring Intake: Pros and Cons

Discussed below are the pros and cons of applying during the Spring intake as an international student:

Pros of Applying for Spring/January Intake

  • It will give you a good opportunity to prepare for the upcoming Fall Intake by taking a Foundation pathway, A levels or Pre-sessional English Preparation courses. This way, you get to build your academic foundation and become ready for university/college-level classes in a foreign country.

  • You may take time off from school and utilise it to travel, volunteer, work, build your resume or simply chill before embarking on this new journey.

  • Given that most students have already settled in by the January Intake, your start or first semester would be relatively peaceful.

  • As mentioned earlier, competition may be somewhat less than the Fall Intakes abroad. So, the chances of getting admitted to your dream university abroad during the January Intake abroad are pretty great.

  • Upon completion of your studies, the competition for relevant jobs may also be slightly less as the number of graduates entering the job market would also be less. The September Intake students may graduate somewhat earlier, but those few extra months of work experience would hardly make any difference.

  • Depending on the country, starting your courses abroad in January can be quite pleasant weather-wise when the winter is already at its peak and is expected to get warmer ahead.

Cons of Applying for Spring/January Intake

  • You may be grouped with students admitted in the Fall semester, who will have an advantage of one semester over them.

  • January Intake admits usually would not have the same number of financial aid or scholarship options, as compared to the September Intake students.

  • Job opportunities during course-works may be fewer for Spring applicants as all available posts would have already been taken up by Fall students.

Fall Intake: Pros and Cons

Discussed below are the pros and cons of applying during the Fall Intake as an international student:

Pros of Applying for a September/Fall Intake

  • The biggest advantage of the September Intake is that you would have a wide range of courses to select from. Most colleges abroad offer almost all courses in the Fall Intake, thereby, allowing you to opt for any course offered by any college you like.

  • A lot of student club recruitments and on-campus jobs are filled during the fall semester, ensuring that you have quite an eventful semester ahead. Fall Intake admits also have an advantage in terms of campus recruitments given that they would already have completed three semesters by the time campus recruitments are organised

  • If you apply to a university during the September Intake, you would have the option of trying again and applying during the January Intake. This would not be possible if you only apply for the Spring Intake as the Fall deadlines may already have passed.

  • When it comes to assistantship opportunities, Fall Intake students generally have an edge over Spring Intake admits as they have already interacted with professors through their coursework. So, their chances of securing the assistantship may be higher.

  • The number of financial aid sources is much higher in the Fall semester when compared to the January Intake.

Cons of Applying for a September/Fall Intake

  • Usually, programmes that begin in September offer the core course requirements in the first semester, along with certain electives. The more advanced courses may be offered in the spring semester. This means that you might have to wait until the next semester to take up specific courses.

  • Taking into account that not that many universities abroad offer spring admissions, the applicant pool can get relatively more competitive. This may, thus, lower your chances of securing admission to your desired university.

Struggling to find time to read the entire article? Check out the following video where we speak of the different parameters and elements that make both fall and spring intakes ideal for a candidate based on their requirements.

As outlined above and stated in the video, there are several pros and cons to both the intakes when it come to studying abroad. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to first determine your requirements and figure out the best option available as per your requirements.

Which Intake to Choose Between Fall and Spring Semester and How?

While it is important to know the pros and cons, as well as the major differences in choosing between the two major admissions, intake in top study-abroad destinations for international students. However, it is even more important to know how to choose between the Fall and Spring intake to study abroad. Listed below are some of the steps you can take when choosing the right admission intake abroad.

Step 1: Shortlist your Desired Universities and Courses

The first step should be deciding on the course you wish to study and the university where you wish to study. This will help you narrow down a major portion of the decision, as some courses are only offered during the September Intake while some may only be offered during the January Intake. On the other hand, some courses may be offered during both intakes, thus, giving you more opportunities to apply to your desired course and university.

Step 2: Read the Admission Policies and Requirements

The next crucial step is to read the admission policies and requirements thoroughly, as this is where you would find the relevant information regarding admissions during different admission intakes, i.e. January and September Intakes abroad. Moreover, the admission policies for each university and course will define the admission intakes for each course and the application deadlines for different admission intakes abroad.

Step 3: Collect Your Documents

Part of any admission process is submitting the necessary documents with your application form. Some of these documents may take some time to acquire, which in turn, could mean that you may not have the needed documents before the application deadlines for different admission intakes.

In cases where you do not have the necessary documents ready by the time of submitting your applications, you will find it easier to apply for the later or next admission intake.

Country-wise Intake Timeline Guides

Now that you are familiar with the Fall and Spring semester intakes for foreign universities, it is time to know about the country-wise intakes for admissions abroad. Check out the following links to understand the admission timeline as per intakes in the respective countries.

Admission Intakes in USA

The US offers admissions all around the year, however, there is a restriction when it comes to international students. International aspirants looking to study in the USA majorly choose the Fall or Spring intake. More details on popular intakes in the USA can be found here:

Timeline for USA Summer Intake 2023

Timeline for September 2023 Intake to Study in USA

Study in the USA: Know All About Spring (January) 2023 Intake

Admission Intakes in UK

The United Kingdom offers admissions to international students in the Fall, Spring, and Summer intakes. While the Fall intake is more popular among international students studying at UK universities, many aspirants also take admission to Spring intake courses. Summer intake courses are rare or very limited. Check out these timeline guides for more information on each intake:

Study in the UK: Timeline for January 2023 Intake

Study in the UK: Timeline for September 2023 Intake

Study in the UK: Timeline for May Intake 2023 for International Students

Admission Intakes in Canada

Just like the USA, Canada also offers admissions all year, i.e., in the Summer, Spring, and Fall intakes. Fall and Spring intakes are more common among international students studying in Canada. Check out detailed information about these intakes here:

Canada September 2023 Intake: Timeline and Admission Requirements

Study in Canada: Timeline for January 2023 Intake

Canada Summer Intake 2023: Timeline and Admission Requirements

Admission Intakes in Australia

Australia has majorly two intakes, which are the Fall and Winter. Since the country is situated in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed. Thus, international students are mostly admitted in the Fall intake in February. The July intake is also open for international students. Here are some timeline guides to understand the application process and intakes in Australia in an elaborate manner:

Timeline for February 2023 Intake to Study in Australia

Study in Australia: Timeline for July Intake 2023

Admission Intakes in Germany

International students flock to Germany for its low tuition fees universities and emphasis on practical knowledge. Although German universities offer a limited number of courses to Germany mostly open for admission during the Summer and Winter intakes. Learn more about these intakes by checking out these timeline guides:

Study in Germany in 2023: Winter Semester, Timeline and Admission Requirements

Study in Germany: Timeline for Summer Intake 2023

Admission Intakes in New Zealand

New Zealand follows the same admissions timeline as its neighbour Australia. You can check out the intake-wise admission timeline below:

Study in New Zealand: Timeline for February 2023 Intake

Timeline for July 2023 Intake to Study in New Zealand

List of B-Schools Accepting Applications for Spring Intake

The following table shows the list of top b-schools that accept applications for Spring intake along with their respective countries:

University Name


Programme Offered

Aquinas College

United States

Master of Management

Australian National University


Master of Management

Barry University


Master of Management

Bellevue University


Master of Management

Grenoble Graduate School of Business


Master in International Business

HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management


MSc in Management

IE Business School


Master in Management

IESEG School of Management


Master of Science in International Business

Ivey Business School


MSc in Management

La Trobe University


Master of Management

Maastricht University


Master in International Business

Macquarie Graduate School of Management


Master of Management

Melbourne Business School


Master in Management

Monash University


Master of Management

National Singapore of University (NUS)


MSc in Management

Singapore Management University


MSc in Management

Swinburne University of Technology


Master of Business Management

Sydney Business School


Master of Business

University of Maryland University College


Master of International Management

University of South Carolina, Moore


Master in International Business

University of Sydney


Master in Management

University of the Sunshine Coast


Master of Management

Washington School of Business


Master of Science in Management

List of B-Schools Accepting Applications for Fall Intake

The following table shows the list of top b-schools that accept applications for Fall intake along with their respective countries:

University Name


Booth School, University of Chicago


Harvard Business School


Kelley, Indiana University


Kellogg School of Management


Stanford University


The Wharton School


Yale University


Last Word

There will be other parameters and reasons that will affect your decision in choosing the right admission intake. One of the best ways you can choose the right admission intake is by connecting with experienced study abroad counsellors who can help you study at your dream university abroad.

Therefore, from choosing the country where you wish to study to the different courses you wish to pursue, there are several parameters that you need to define in order to select the right intake season to study abroad. As outlined in this article, it is extremely important to understand your requirements and align them with your desired university abroad. Thus, you will be able to select the right intake season to study at your dream university in the world.

If you are still confused between Fall vs Spring which is better, then get in touch with our study abroad experts at abroad@collegedekho.com. and resolve any doubts you may have regarding Fall vs Spring intake to study abroad.

Need Expert Help to Decide on Fall and Spring Semester Abroad?


When should I apply for the summer intake in US?

If you are planning to pursue higher studies during the summer intake in US, it is advisable to start submitting your applications between November and January before the application deadlines. However, the application deadlines for the summer intake in US will be different across universities, therefore, check the individual admission requirements and deadlines before applying.

Is the January intake better than the September intake?

While there is no one specific answer to this question, the January intake can be better than the September intake when studying abroad if you wish to enrol at a popular university without wanting to face tough competition. While your graduation from the course will be three months later than those who applied during the September intake, the quality of education and job opportunities will be the same.

How should I choose between the January and September intakes to study abroad?

There are several factors that international students should consider when deciding on the right intake to apply to universities abroad. While choosing the most popular intake is the best option, you need to ensure that you possess the complete and correct documents as well as the admission intakes offered by the university for a particular course.

Which is the best intake in Australia?

Unlike the US, the UK and Canada, the best intake in Australia is the February intake, wherein the first semester commences during the months of February. Inevitably, the February intake is the primary intake and the July intake is the secondary intake. Moreover, few universities in Australia also offer admissions during the months of September and November.

How many admission intakes are available in Canada for international students?

As an international student, you will be able to apply to universities in the country via three intakes in Canada. The September and January intakes are considered to be the primary and secondary intakes, respectively, while the May intake is the least popular intake in the country. You are advised to apply to your desired universities and courses during the September or January intakes in Canada.

Do UK universities offer admission during the January intake?

Yes, UK universities offer admissions during the January intake, however, the number of universities offering admissions during this intake along with the number of courses available will be limited. Nevertheless, international students stand a better chance at enrolling at UK universities during the January intake as the competition among applicants will be comparatively less than the September intake.

Which intake is the best to study in the US?

If you are planning to study in the US, then the best intake you can choose is the September intake in US, as you will be able to choose from a variety of university options as well as course options. Moreover, with more scholarship opportunities and financial aid available to international students during the September intake in US, it is advisable to get yourself application-ready for the Fall intake.

Why is the September intake popular abroad?

The September intake in countries abroad is commonly seen to be the most popular choice among international students as a larger variety of courses as well as universities are on offer in comparison to the January or May intake. Additionally, the September intake also invites a larger number of invites to financial aid and scholarship opportunities, both generic and discipline-specific, for international students aspiring to study abroad.

Why study during the January intake abroad?

At most study abroad destinations, the January intake is the secondary intake in an academic year, where universities are commonly seen enrolling students to vacant seats in courses across different disciplines. The January intake allows for a less competitive admission process, further offering a better guarantee of enrolment, while also offering applicants additional time to acquire the necessary documents and funds needed to study abroad.

What intakes can I choose to study abroad?

Depending on the country, university and course you choose to study abroad, the admission intakes will vary. Popularly, universities and colleges often accept admissions during the September and January intakes, which are also known as the Fall or Spring/Winter Intakes across top study abroad destinations. Additionally, many universities also offer a third intake, commonly known as the Summer or May intake abroad.

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