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Undergraduate Study

A diverse group of mature students having fun studying together at Wolfson College, Cambridge.

If you’ll be aged 21 or over by 1 October in the year in which you hope to come to Cambridge you’ll be applying as a mature student. We have almost 600 mature undergraduates studying for their first degree at Cambridge, many of whom are in their 20s.


Cambridge is a collegiate university, meaning that students are based in Colleges for day-to-day living and go to the University’s academic faculties/departments for lectures, practicals etc.

At Cambridge, all undergraduate students are a member of one of our 29 undergraduate Colleges. All Cambridge Colleges admit mature students, but there are three that are exclusively for mature students aged 21 or over:

Mature students can apply to any of the undergraduate Colleges, though most choose one of these ‘mature’ Colleges, where they’ll be living with other students who also have a bit more life experience and aren’t straight out of school. This is a great support for anyone returning to education. Mature students who make an open application are allocated to one of the mature-student Colleges.

The social life in the mature Colleges is a rich mix and takes account of partners and families. At the same time, there are plenty of opportunities to meet the standard-age students in lectures and practicals and through the University’s clubs and societies.

The role of the Colleges and College profiles are detailed in our Colleges section, along with advice on things to consider when choosing a College.


The personal teaching and support available within the Cambridge Colleges is the most distinctive feature of the collegiate system.

  • Colleges provide educational and pastoral support – all students are assigned a Director of Studies (DoS) to oversee their academic progression and welfare, and they also have access to a Tutor who can provide pastoral support and advise on personal and financial matters.
  • Support is also available from other members of College staff – such as nurses, chaplains, counsellors – as well as from other students (eg peers and welfare officers on the College Students’ Union).
  • In addition, the University offers a range of specialist support services, such as the Disability Resource Centre (for students with a disability, Specific Learning Difficulty or long-term health condition).

Financial support

Details of the costs involved in studying at Cambridge and the support available for Home fee status students can be found on our Fees and finance pages. In particular you can find information about:

  • the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, which offers non-repayable Bursaries for some UK mature students to help with living costs
  • government support, such as student loans for tuition fees and living costs
  • additional support for those with particular circumstances/needs, such as those with dependants

Information about financial support for students from outside the UK can be found on the International financial support pages.

Student parents

For students with children, the University’s Childcare Office can offer guidance on childcare, and some Colleges are able to provide family accommodation. More information for student parents can be found on the Student parents page.