Upcoming Intakes to Study in USA

Studying abroad is a major undertaking as well as a decision. And, like any major undertaking, it requires long-term planning and careful decision-making.

If you are planning to study in the US, of the many things that you need to carefully consider are deciding on which intake you intend to apply and the deadlines. To help you make meaning out of the confusion of intakes and deadlines and make an informed decision, here is a guided tour of intakes of the US universities and colleges.


US Universities’ Intakes: The Basics

In US universities, an academic year is divided into two semesters. Unlike India, universities and colleges across the US enrol students three times in an academic year: Fall, Spring, and Summer.

Here is a snap view of some of the principal facts about the intakes.


(Also known as September intake)

September September–December/early January Primary/Major intake Most popular intake for international students because:

  • A huge number of applicants
  • Competition is intense
  • Universities and departments commence their flagship and major programs
  • A wide variety of courses are offered
  • Greater opportunities for funding such as scholarship and financial aid
  • On-campus jobs, Teaching Assistantship (TA), Research Assistantship (RA) become available
  • More internship opportunities
  • Helps those who intend to earn leadership positions in student organisations because new leaders are almost always elected at the end of the Spring semester
  • Joining in the Fall semester gives you adequate time to showcase your leadership qualities

(Also known as January intake)

January January–May Secondary intake
  • You have the chance to apply if you miss the Fall intake (provided the university offers a Spring intake)
  • You get more time for preparation of what the university requires
  • Gives you extra time to prepare application materials and obtaining a US visa
  • You get extra time to improve your English language skills
  • Does not offer as many courses as the Fall intake
  • Internship opportunities get circumscribed as you will face the 9-month enrolment criterion to be hired by any company as an intern
  • Might be grouped for some of the classes with Fall intake students who are ahead by a semester
SUMMER May May–August Not offered by all universities
  • Of short duration
  • Mostly offer language programs for non-English speaking students
  • Very few colleges and universities offer
  • The pool of applicants is very small
  • Enhanced chances of getting an offer


Which Intake for Me?

You need to decide carefully which intake best suits you. You must consider the fact that the deadlines for applying to an intake are usually a few months before the date of the starting of the semester. Ideally, you should begin applications 9-12 months before the intake. Universities usually take about 8-10 weeks to process the applications.

However, Fall intake is usually the preferred intake. Not all universities offer the Spring or the Summer Intake

Fall vs. Spring: Undecided?

Now that you know about the main intakes in the US, you might be asking, “I am planning for an MS in the US. What should I opt for? Fall or Spring?” Or you might be planning to undertake an MBA at a top Business School. We suggest that before you decide, consider the following.


  • Many of the top 100 US universities do not have a Spring intake for MS programs. E,g., Carnegie Mellon University
  • Research thoroughly your university
  • What kind of classes do you stand to gain or miss by choosing your intake?
  • What part of the US would you like to study in? Weather can bring either an advantage or a disadvantage for you. You will be thinking twice if you are planning to pursue a program in the northern part of the country and arrive there in January amidst snow and hail.
  • If you are keen on joining the Orientation sessions of your university, you have to opt for the Fall intake because US universities offer orientation only once a year in the Fall intake
  • Fall intake has greater financial aid opportunities
  • Networking with a professor whom you can assist in his/her research is important
  • Intake is less important for a Ph.D. applicant
MBA Columbia Business School offers Spring intake. However, most B-school applicants opt for the Fall intake


So, the upcoming intakes are: Fall 2021 and Spring 2021


Application deadlines are important milestones in your application process. Different universities have different deadlines. Top universities normally set their deadlines 8-12 months before the commencement of the program. Hence, you must be very clear about your deadlines. Here is a general guideline.

  • Fall Intake
    • Top Universities (A, A+): November/December of the previous year
    • A-, B, B+, C grade universities: February/March of the same year
    • C-, D grade universities: June/July of the same year
  • Spring Intake
    • Top Universities (A, A+): March/April of the same year
    • A-, B, B+, C grade universities: July/August of the same year
    • C-, D grade universities: October/November
  • Summer Intake: March

Types of Deadlines

MS: In the case of Master’s, there are generally two types of deadlines:

  • Financial Aid deadline
  • Regular deadline

MBA: Most B-schools have various rounds of deadlines: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, etc.

  • Round 1 deadline for B-schools is generally in the month of September or October
  • Round 2 deadline is usually in the month of January
  • Round 3 deadlines are usually for domestic applicants in the US

Round 1 and Round 2 are for international applicants. A sizeable number of applicants target Round 1. However, if you are a B-school applicant and your application is not ready for the Round 1 deadline, then you should focus on honing your application and target the Round 2 deadline.

UG: In case of UG, there are usually three types of deadlines:

  • Early Action deadline (Deadline is in November)
  • An applicant targeting this deadline will expect an early admissions decision; it is not legally binding
  • Early Decision deadline (Deadline is in November)
  • An applicant targeting this deadline will expect an early admissions decision; it is legally binding
  • Regular deadline (Deadline is usually in January for top colleges)

To help you get an idea of application deadlines, here is a sneak peek of the representative deadlines for Fall and Spring 2021 of a few MS programs in some US universities. However, owing to the extraordinary situation because of the CoViD-19 situation, we strongly recommend that you check out your target university website before applying.


Purdue University, West Lafayette Fall 2021 MS Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering 15.12.20 Late November/Early to mid-December Mid-December
Virginia Tech University Fall 2021 MS Aerospace Engineering 30.12.20 Late November/Early to mid-December Mid-December


Before we end, here are a few deadlines for the Fall 2021 intake in some top B-schools in the US.

2020-2021 MBA Application Deadlines by School
B-School Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
Columbia Business School October 2, 2020 (Early Decision August 2021 start and Regular Decision January 2021 start) April 9, 2021 (Regular Decision August 2021 start) April 15, 2021 (Deferred Enrolment August 2023 start) NA NA
Harvard Business School September 8, 2020 January 5, 2021 NA NA NA
UPenn/Wharton September 15, 2020 January 5, 2021 March 31, 2021 NA NA


If you are feeling confused, you can reach out to us at Manya Education. We would be happy to assist you with all your queries.