The road to becoming an international student is paved with deadlines. So are most of the milestones you’ll need to pass throughout the process, such as applying for financial aid, the student visa, the language exam and others.
It is a common fact that, if you want to enrol in an American university, you should begin documenting for your application two years before you actually apply. In other countries and Europe, you can begin the process one year before submitting the documents.
However, even if you start preparing your application documents early on, you may still find yourself in the position of not managing to collect or submit all of them before the deadline. This is when you need to look for late application details.
Regular university deadlines for Master's degree admission
Universities normally set quotas for the number of people admitted to any particular programme. Often times, certain study programmes are in high demand, so they receive more applications than the actual number of available places. Application deadlines exist to offer study boards enough time to analyse all the received applications and select the best candidates.
Many universities and graduate schools have deadlines for applications in September – January for study programmes that start in September next year. However, in many cases, they still extend the period until June. So most times, you’ll have to apply at least six months before enrolment.
Universities always advise future students to file their application months before the deadline. So the time pressure will, most probably, raise as the last day for submitting your documents approaches.
What happens if you miss the application deadline?
Simply check the university website or contact the university staff directly and see if they have the so-called ‘late applications’ option. Universities keep courses and programmes open for late application for different reasons, mainly to make sure all the available places for a certain study programme are filled.
So take the chance to turn late applications to your advantage! Just remember, if you haven’t undergone through the process of preparing all the required documents for the initial application deadline, you’ll have to move fast and prepare everything you need so you can submit the late application on time.
What to do when applying late to a university?
1. Usually, late applications are available for certain study degrees ONLY (disciplines that are in less demand). So carefully check the list or get informed about the available courses for late applications.
2. In certain countries, late applications can be accepted within one month before the start of the academic year. In this case, they are only available for those students who are not required to apply for a visa. So EU/EEA students will be able to apply late for an EU destination, but non-EU/EEA students will not.
3. For some UK universities with no application deadline, students can submit application documents through UCAS to save time. UCAS is an online system that allows you to apply to up to 5 different universities.
Although not all international students require a visa to study in the UK, UCAS representatives specifically advise students to consider applying for a programme keeping in mind the required time frame for the student visa to be processed (if it is necessary).
4. Late applications don’t guarantee that you'll be offered an actual place in the study programme; your eligibility will still be determined based on your qualifications.
Universities with late-application deadlines
Here are several examples of universities that accept or take into consideration late applications:
- Swansea University, in the UK
- Bangor University, in the UK
- University of Aberdeen, in the UK
- Uppsala University, in Sweden
- Linkoping University, in Sweden
- Umea University, in Sweden
- McGill University, in Canada
- University of Auckland, in New Zealand
- CPUT, in South Africa
Check the common application requirements when applying for a university abroad.
Universities where you can apply at any time
Some online courses offered by universities allow you to apply at any time throughout the year. The number of courses without a deadline varies from one university to another. Here are a few universities to consider:
Tips for a successful late application
1. In case you missed the regular application, adjust your motivation essay to the situation. The date of your late application is different than the initial one and there are other facts in your life at the time. Tutors are expecting to see content that refers to the present, so focus on your motivation essay and make it realistic.
2. Plan your schedule properly, since there is a limited time frame even for the late registration. If you still have to take the language exam, for example, you should take into consideration that it takes around three weeks for the results to be available and sent to the university. That’s why you should normally take the language exam several months before you start the application or before the application deadline.
3. Use your time wisely. You can take a short foundation course or increase your work experience. The effort in your CV will be visible and noticed.
4. Update your financial plan. Even if there is a late registration tuition fee and the difference from the standard one is small, you should have an up-to-date budget.
5. When you visit the university website, pay close attention to all the information. Some universities may use different terms instead of “late registration/application”.