Best Colleges at Oxford 2024

If you envision a campus steeped in history, where faculty mentorship is personalized, libraries are legendary, and academic excellence is paramount, then Oxford University deserves a prime spot on your college wish list. Steeped in tradition as the oldest English-speaking university, Oxford has been a cradle of brilliance, nurturing countless Nobel laureates, influential leaders, and historical luminaries over centuries.

What sets Oxford apart is its renowned tutorial teaching method. Here, the traditional large lecture hall is replaced by intimate small-group or one-on-one sessions with distinguished faculty members who are experts in their fields. It’s an environment where personal interaction and intellectual exchange flourish, enriching the learning journey for every student.

Academic rigor is a hallmark of Oxford, but it’s balanced with unwavering support from faculty and staff, ensuring students thrive in their pursuits. Notably, 46% of Oxford’s 12,683 undergraduates hail from diverse corners of the globe, embodying the university’s cosmopolitan spirit. With representation from over 160 countries, Oxford truly embraces cultural diversity, with a significant number of students originating from the United States and China.

Oxford’s collegiate structure further enhances its unique appeal. Divided into 39 distinct colleges, each with its own faculty, accommodations, and admissions process, the university offers a diverse array of academic homes. Thirty-one of these colleges welcome undergraduate students, providing them with a nurturing community within the larger academic landscape of Oxford.

For those who dream of an unparalleled college experience marked by academic excellence, personalized mentorship, and a rich tapestry of global perspectives, Oxford University beckons as an unparalleled destination.

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Exploring the Ageless Beauty of Oxford: How Old is the University of Oxford?

Stepping into Oxford is like stepping into a time capsule of learning, with roots reaching back to 1096. The echoes of centuries past resonate through the cobblestone streets and magnificent architecture that adorn the campus. Among these architectural marvels stand the venerable St Mary’s Church, a testament to medieval craftsmanship from the 13th century, and the Divinity School, a beacon of academic pursuit dating back to the 14th century.

Yet, Oxford is not merely frozen in time; it is a dynamic blend of antiquity and modernity. A typical day for an Oxford student might involve strolling past the ancient St George’s Tower, a structure that has watched over the city since 1020, before grabbing a cup of coffee at a café nestled within what was once a medieval inn along Cornmarket Street. Later, they might find themselves immersed in the sleek, futuristic design of the Blavatnik School of Government, a state-of-the-art building erected in 2016, before seeking solace in the hallowed halls of Queen’s College, where a magnificent 17th-century library invites them to delve into the wisdom of the ages.

In Oxford, the past seamlessly intertwines with the present, creating an atmosphere where each step is a journey through time, and every corner holds a story waiting to be discovered.

Demystifying Oxford College Applications: What You Need to Know

If you’re eyeing Oxford for your higher education journey, understanding the application process is essential. Much like the standard college admissions process, each of Oxford’s colleges mandates:

  1. Admissions tests
  2. Grade transcripts
  3. Personal statement (with supplemental essays required for certain majors)
  4. Letter of reference

Upon reaching Oxford’s shortlist, you’ll undergo interviews with faculty members in your chosen major department, marking the final stage of your application. While the UK’s testing systems may differ, Oxford accepts SAT/ACT scores and AP exam results from international applicants.

Oxford’s reputation as a highly selective institution is well-founded. With over 22,000 applications annually vying for approximately 3,300 spots, even students with top grades by UK standards face a challenging 28.4% chance of admission.

However, it’s important to recognize that each of Oxford’s 31 undergraduate colleges conducts its own independent admissions process. This results in varying levels of selectivity and unique admissions priorities. Applicants have the choice to apply to specific colleges or submit a general application to Oxford without specifying a college preference.

When determining the right Oxford college for you, consider

  1. Whether the college offers your desired major
  2. Acceptance rate (details below for each college)
  3. The distinctive cultural atmosphere of each college

To aid in your decision-making process, it’s wise to weigh these factors carefully. Below, you’ll find acceptance rates for each college, providing valuable insights into their respective admissions landscapes. Ultimately, choosing the ideal Oxford college involves finding the perfect balance between academic offerings, acceptance rates, and cultural fit.

Top 12 Colleges Ranked at Oxford

St. John’s College

Nestled in Oxford’s vibrant heart, St. John’s College prioritizes intimate faculty-student connections through small group and one-on-one classes. Established in 1555, its timeless setting includes a 16th-century chapel, a vast library, and serene gardens. St. John’s offers diverse majors and applicants undergo two twenty-minute interviews as part of the admissions process.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 14%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 1,548

Lincoln College

With a cozy undergraduate community of just over 300, Lincoln fosters a strong sense of belonging and boasts an exceptional library. Instruction spans large lectures, small group tutorials, and one-on-one supervision. Emphasizing traditional subjects, Lincoln encourages extracurricular involvement, including the popular Turl Street Arts Festival.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 21.5%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 672

Brasenose College

Known for its amiable atmosphere, Brasenose College blends friendliness with academic rigor. Students choose from a wide array of majors and engage with accomplished scholars. Beyond academics, Brasenose hosts vibrant social events, from fancy-dress parties to cultural celebrations, fostering a dynamic community spirit.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 12.5%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 1,358

New College

Among Oxford’s largest colleges, New College prioritizes student well-being, offering extensive support services. Its facilities include an award-winning music practice building and the Gradel Quadrangles, providing versatile spaces for living, studying, and performance.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 22.8%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 954

St. Catherine’s College

A beacon of innovation and diversity, St. Catherine’s offers a modern campus environment. With students representing over 50 nations, it fosters a vibrant scholarly community. Engaging in various extracurricular activities, students delve into arts, sciences, and cultural pursuits.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 20.7%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 1,301

Worcester College

Renowned for its supportive community ethos, Worcester College provides a nurturing environment for its 400 undergraduates. Offering majors across humanities, arts, and sciences, it hosts numerous cultural events, fostering a sense of camaraderie among students.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 10.8%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 2,169

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Balliol College

Founded in 1263, Balliol champions academic excellence and independent thinking. While acclaimed for its mathematics program, it offers diverse majors across STEM and humanities fields. With a small cohort of 70 undergraduates, Balliol fosters close-knit academic communities.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 16.5%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 1,242

Harris Manchester College

Dedicated to mature students aged 21 and above, Harris Manchester celebrates diversity and inclusivity. With no upper age limit, it welcomes individuals from varied backgrounds, including career changers and lifelong learners, fostering a supportive learning environment.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 12%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: Not listed

St. Anne’s College

With a student body of approximately 450, St. Anne’s College embraces values of opportunity, collaboration, and forward-thinking. Boasting Oxford’s largest library, it offers majors in both traditional subjects and broader subject families. In line with its commitment to career preparation, St. Anne’s provides numerous paid work and research internships for its students.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 27%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 967
  • Founded in: 1879

The Queen’s College

Founded in 1341, The Queen’s College provides a picturesque setting for academic pursuits amid stunning neoclassical architecture. Renowned for its research opportunities, it houses a magnificent library spanning three centuries. Additionally, students can engage in interactive research talks through the Queen’s College Symposium.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 19%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 307
  • Founded in: 1341

Corpus Christi College

Founded during the Renaissance, Corpus Christi College maintains a steadfast dedication to fostering creativity and intellectual growth. Faculty members expect students to demonstrate commitment, maturity, and ambition. Beyond academics, students are encouraged to partake in daily tea times and utilize community spaces like the boathouse and Beer Cellar.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 19%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 526
  • Founded in: 1517

University College

University College, with its diverse architectural heritage spanning from the 17th to the 21st centuries, stands as an eclectic testament to Oxford’s rich history. Students at Univ often describe their alma mater as “historic and unpretentious,” fostering a warm and inclusive atmosphere that embraces all who pass through its gates. This lively, mid-size college pulsates with activity, offering a plethora of events every week, from comedy nights to choir performances and cultural dinners.

  • Acceptance rate for 2022-2023: 22.8%
  • Average applications received per year 2020-22: 957
  • Founded in: 1634


The colleges of Oxford University embody a rich tapestry of academic excellence, tradition, and community. From the venerable halls of St. John’s to the modern vibrancy of St. Catherine’s, each college offers a unique environment for students to thrive.

As applicants navigate the admissions process, it’s crucial to consider not only the statistics like acceptance rates and application numbers but also the intangible aspects such as the college’s ethos, culture, and extracurricular opportunities. Whether one is drawn to the historic charm of Queen’s College or the dynamic atmosphere of University College, Oxford provides a home for diverse interests and aspirations.

Ultimately, the journey to Oxford is an exploration of self-discovery and intellectual growth. By finding the college that resonates with their values and ambitions, students can embark on a transformative educational experience within the esteemed walls of Oxford University.