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Is it Better to Study Abroad in Fall or Spring

Updated on 21 November, 2023

Neha Uppal

Neha Uppal

Sr. Content editor

Studying abroad can be one of the most critical decisions in a student’s life. Enrolling in a foreign university provides world-class academic opportunities and international exposure. Students will also be exposed to people of different cultures, which broaden their horizons.

However, students often ask themselves, is it better to study abroad in the fall or spring? The admission cycle, intake, and associated factors vary according to the season. So, evaluating all options before deciding to study abroad in the spring or fall is best.

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Advantages of Studying Abroad in Fall Semester

The Fall intake offers several advantages to prospective students. Here's a more detailed explanation of the same:

  1. Higher Chances of Acceptance: Fall intakes are typically larger in class size, which means they may have a higher acceptance rate. This is because universities often admit more students during this period to accommodate the influx of new students for the academic year. 
  2. Access to Better Courses: Fall admissions are advantageous for course selection because universities tend to offer a broader range of courses during the beginning of the academic year. This means that students who enroll in the Fall intake have a wider selection of courses to choose from, giving them more flexibility in designing their academic path.
  3. Saves Time: Starting your academic session in late August or early September aligns with the conclusion of many semesters. This can be beneficial because you won't have to wait several months to start your studies. It can also help you complete your degree within the expected timeframe without any unnecessary gaps.
  4. Better Job Opportunities: The Fall intake marks the start of the academic year, so you'll have more time to explore job opportunities, internships, and extracurricular activities. This is particularly advantageous for international students who may want to gain work experience during their studies. Compared to other intakes, you'll have a head start in networking and job hunting here.

Advantages of Studying Abroad in Spring Intake

Here are some compelling reasons why pursuing your education during the spring semester can be a wise choice:

  1. Diverse Course Offerings: Many universities and colleges worldwide have a more comprehensive range of courses available during the spring semester, allowing you to explore unique subjects and customize your academic experience. According to Institute of International Education (IIE) data, 99% of US higher education institutions report having in-person classes in spring 2022, and US institutions offer more specialized courses in the spring.
  2. Smaller Class Sizes: Enrolling in the spring intake often means smaller class sizes than the fall intake. The student-to-faculty ratio in the US tends to be lower during the spring semester, which can lead to more personalized learning experiences.
  3. Enhanced Cultural Experiences: Springtime is a season of cultural festivals and events in many countries. Studying abroad during this period can allow you to immerse yourself in local traditions and celebrations. For instance, in Japan, the cherry blossom season (sakura) is a major cultural event that attracts millions of tourists.
  4. Admissions Flexibility: Some universities have rolling admissions or offer spring-specific scholarships and grants, making it easier for students to gain admission or secure financial aid.
  5. Broader Perspective: A spring intake allows you to experience the host country's culture during different seasons, giving you a more comprehensive understanding of its culture and environment. 
  6. Lesser Competition: Students can choose the spring season to study abroad if they wish to surpass bottleneck competition. Since fewer students apply for the spring intake, the competition is usually less.


Admissions for Spring vs Fall: Key Considerations


Most universities follow a similar admission cycle, with the fall intake cycle from August to December and the spring cycle from January to late March or May.

For example, popular institutes like Harvard University, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, and Georgia Tech offer fall intake. On the other hand, 

Semester System

  • Most institutes abroad have a semester and quarter system for academic programs. If the student’s preferred college has a quarter system, enrolling in the fall quarter might be ideal. It will help students enjoy a shorter semester and plan their academics during the summer break.
  • If the student plans on spending two quarters studying abroad, the spring admissions cycle will be a suitable option. American semester systems have 15 weeks-long fall and spring semesters.
  • In the UK, the calendar is divided into three terms, having two semesters each. The spring semester (Term Two) starts in January and ends in March. However, the fall semester begins in September, also called Term One.   

Special Programs

  • Many foreign universities offer special academic programs during the fall and spring seasons. Students must check with the university to know more about semester-specific study abroad programs.
  • Studying abroad during the fall can help students choose from various programs. Language learning and project-based programs are popular among students. They can also access programs through third-party organizations like USAC or CEA.
  • Moreover, fall programs provide plenty of time for the students to explore the campus and its infrastructural facilities.
  • Students can consult third-party providers and their professors to arrange a spring study abroad program. It is a more cost-effective option but has a limited time of 7 to 10 days. That’s why spring programs are excellent for learning a different language or culture.  


One must be aware of the climatic conditions of the preferred country for higher education. If the weather doesn’t suit the students, they will not be able to concentrate on their academics. They might suffer from seasonal ailments and have a tough time adjusting.

So, if someone prefers a snow-clad destination and doesn’t have issues with cold, the fall semester will be a perfect choice. On the contrary, if the student isn’t comfortable with the harsh winters, and fancy pleasant weather, the spring semester is the one for them.

Other factors to keep in mind while focusing on the destination’s climate: 

  • For countries in the Northern Hemisphere, like Canada and Germany, spring lasts from March to May 31st. Fall is between September and November 30th.
  • For countries in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia and New Zealand, spring falls between September and November 30th. The Fall is between March and May 31st.

Building Connections with Peers and Professors 

One of the greatest advantages of studying abroad is meeting people from diverse cultures. However, the possibilities of interacting with people differ slightly during the fall and spring academic cycles.

Studying abroad during the fall allows students to build connections with their classmates and professors. This is because sometimes the classes don’t begin until September, so they have sufficient time for interaction.

Students will also receive opportunities to interact with their peers during the spring academic cycle. They can explore the host country with the locals during spring break. However, students might not be able to spend time with their peers graduating that semester.  


When contemplating your study abroad journey, from selecting the ideal destination country to shortlisting your preferred courses, you must also consider several key parameters to assess the most suitable intake season. As emphasized in this article, understanding each intake’s pros and cons and aligning them with your chosen study abroad destination is paramount. One of the most effective approaches to making informed decisions about the right admission intakes is to seek guidance from our study abroad experts. 


Are spring semesters costly?

In some institutes, spring semesters are longer than fall semesters. So, students have to bear additional expenses for accommodation, food, and education. It makes spring programs costlier than fall programs.   

Which is the best time to study abroad and apply for internships?

Most internship and job opportunities are available in the fall, making it a better option than spring.

Which is the appropriate season to exclude the locality while studying abroad?

Spring offers pleasant weather suitable for exploring the host country. However, fall suits those who enjoy winter festivals like Christmas and Mardi Gras.

How to look for a study abroad program?

Students can search for study abroad programs at their university or consult third-party providers. Consulting with the professors will be beneficial.

When are more courses and scholarships offered?

The fall season provides better access to courses and scholarships than spring. This is because the fall has fewer students studying on campus, so other students receive more opportunities.

What are the average expenses for studying abroad?

The average expenses of studying abroad are approximately $18,000 per semester and $36,000 for the entire year.

Neha Uppal

Sr. Content editor

Neha Uppal is a passionate content creator and editor. She carries 7.5+ years of experience working with leading edutech companies where she worked as a Faculty, Community Manager, and Content Marketeer. At upGrad, she is helping out people keep informed about the scopes and opportunities of studying abroad via informational articles/blogs.

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