Starting your course in January could give you the edge!

Most students tend to think of the year ‘starting’ in September, but unfortunately the rest of the world does not agree with us. The work world usually operates from January to December, and because of this many students miss out due to the awkward start and end times of their course in relation to the calendar year. Fortunately, more and more universities are offering January or February start dates in addition to the more traditional September or October courses.

So what’s the deal with January start dates and are they a good option for you?

1. It’s better for international students

If you hail from the southern hemisphere then it is likely that your school year previously ran approximately from January to December. September postgraduate starts are therefore a bit of a problem because students must go through the long application process during the school year and then wait over half a year to actually begin their degree.

January starts are also helpful for international students because the resources they need are under less pressure. Applying for visas and talking to the Border Agency in the run up to September can be an absolute nightmare for postgraduate students because it’s the busiest time of year for visa applications. By starting at a different time of year you are giving yourself more time and greatly reducing the stress of applications.

2. It’s better for job hunting

Perhaps one of the forgotten problems with all students starting their courses in September is that they all graduate and enter the job market at the same time. This means that the market for jobs when postgraduates finish their courses in June-September is extremely competitive as graduates fight it out with each other for jobs.

It’s not exactly a secret that job offers are posted year round, so if you can avoid the June-September glut in the market then you’re less likely to face stiff competition for a position. Job hunting in the New Year could be exactly the advantage you need to land yourself the job you want.

3. It’s better for mature students

Many mature postgraduate students are workers who are taking time out of their jobs to obtain a masters or MBA, and therefore starting a degree in September can pose a real problem. Those who want to take a year out from their jobs often find it easier to obtain a calendar year off because of work schedules, meaning that January start dates are actually a much more convenient option for mature students.

4. It’s better for your application

The majority to students begin applying for their master’s in the final year of their undergraduate course, a time that is as chaotic as it is stressful. An obvious benefit to starting later is that the application deadlines are later, giving you more time to work on your application. By having extra time to gain more experience, refine your research proposals and get the best references possible, you are increasing your chances of getting accepted to your desired program dramatically.

Starting your postgraduate degree in January is a revolutionary idea just because it is so simple. By starting your course at a different time, you can at once give yourself the perfect edge while also decreasing the amount of stress involved in applications. If you haven’t been considering January start dates or always just assumed they were for international students only, then give it some thought. Perhaps starting the New Year with a new degree is exactly the advantage you need.

Where to go...

Many universities in the UK are now offering January start dates as an option for your postgraduate studies. These include some of the more highly ranked and sought-after institutions such as the University of Aberdeen , University of Birmingham , Anglia Ruskin , Swansea University and ESCP Europe . So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start sorting out your future!

Image Credit: Shutterstock


Ramahetlane Aug. 16, 2016, 3:18 p.m.

I commented you to exactly show me what to do or how to get course and university for Chevening Fellowship support in time to fill the necessary documents/trancipts

Charlotte King Sept. 20, 2016, 9:06 p.m.

Here is some great advice on Chevening Scholarships:
Good luck with your application.

Ashebir Thomas Nov. 15, 2020, 6:02 p.m.

Dear all,
I applied for scholarship for September 2021.However, if it is possible and accepted, I want to start on January 2021.

Thank you,

Charlotte King Nov. 18, 2020, 1:56 p.m.

I'm afraid your bursary application was unsuccessful this year. If you end up delaying your postgrad studies you can apply for one of our x15 bursaries for September 2021/January 2022 start >
Good luck!

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