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January Intake in the USA - 2024 Edition

Apr 28, 2023Date Published
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UniSearch - January Intake in the USA - 2024 Edition

If you plan to study in the USA, knowing which intake is ideal for you is crucial. This is because every intake has some advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you apply for the mainstream intake - the Fall intake - you may face more competition for your chosen subjects. You may also have less time after completing your most recent academic qualification to prepare for Fall admission. If you miss the Fall intake, all’s not lost - you can opt for the January intake in the USA instead.

How Many Intakes Are There in the USA?

American universities offer three main intakes: fall, spring, and summer. Some educational institutes in the USA refer to the intake as a “term.” Hence if you notice the word “term” anywhere while researching intakes for admission purposes, don’t let it confuse you. Below, we will discuss more of the intakes US universities offer.

Fall Intake in the USA

The Fall intake is the most popular intake in the USA, commencing in August or September. All US universities accept applications for this season. You’ll find most universities offering the largest and most diverse selection of programs during the fall session.

Spring Intake in the USA

The spring intake (January intake) is the second most sought-after intake in the USA. It commences in January and runs through May. Generally, students who miss enrolling in the fall intake opt for the spring intake. Like the September intake, this one also enables you to apply to many universities and choose and study your favorite courses. While the January intake doesn’t offer as many options as the fall intake, you’ll still feel spoiled for choice.

Summer Intake in the USA

The summer intake is the last intake that fewer universities in the USA offer. It takes place in May and runs through August. Students who plan to enter universities through this intake may have fewer options across several American educational institutes. Only a few universities offer language and cultural programs for non-English speakers through this intake.

Nevertheless, if your program is available for this intake, do go ahead and apply. You might find it’s less competitive than the fall or spring intakes.

Why Should I Apply for the January Intake in the USA?

There are many reasons to consider applying for the January intake in the USA. Below, you can glance at these reasons and determine if this intake is proper for you.

The first reason is less competition. You will encounter less competition for seats in your chosen program if you opt for the January intake. As a huge majority of students consider the fall intake to apply for admission, you may have an easier time securing admission in January.

The second reason is you will have plenty of time for preparation. If you follow a similar academic calendar as the US, you may be wrapping up your most recent academic qualification in May or June. This gives you little time before the start of the Fall intake. You may not be able to collect all the necessary transcripts for admission within this time.

Opting for the January intake gives you more time. You won’t prepare hurriedly for admission; instead, you will have the opportunity to research courses and universities and check other admission criteria thoroughly before beginning the admission process. If you’re currently finishing up a school year, diploma, or degree, it also gives you time to balance your studies with your application.

Finally, the spring intake allows students to get more experience through studying and working. It lets them engage in research and undertake summer internships and voluntary work. Consequently, students gain more work experience before they become graduates. These essential reasons outline why some students apply for the January intake.

Deadlines for January Intake in the USA

The application deadline for January intake is typically between October and November. You need to apply for this intake before the deadline hits. We recommend you apply for the spring intake as soon as the application window at your university opens.

Specifically, if you aim to apply for the January intake 2025, you must begin preparation in January 2024 and should receive your acceptance letter and F-1 student visa before September 2024. This way, you can start your study journey as soon as the January intake kickstarts.

Documents You Need for the January Intake in the USA

In order to apply for the spring intake in the USA, international students must have the right documents to apply. Remember, this is a general outline of the necessary documents. Some American institutes can ask you to submit more or fewer documents than what we list below. 

  • A valid passport

  • School leaving certificates

  • All academic transcripts

  • Proof of English language proficiency

  • SAT or ACT scores (for undergraduate applicants)

  • GRE or GMAT scores (for postgraduate applicants)

  • Letter of intent

  • Letter of recommendations

  • CV/Resume

  • Proof of extracurricular activities

  • Portfolio/Research paper(s) (if needed)

  • Proof of work experience

  • Bank statement

and more

Your Timeline to Apply for the January Intake in the USA

Having a concrete roadmap while planning to study in the USA is crucial, especially when you want to take advantage of the January intake.

The steps below can help you work out a perfect timeline for the January intake and reduce the risk of missing your deadline or submitting a subpar application.

Step 1: Do Some Research on Universities and Courses (January to April)

Shortlist some top-of-the-line American universities offering your favorite courses for the January intake. While shortlisting, visit the universities’ official websites and check admission requirements, scholarship programs, on-campus accommodation (if available), and of course, the intake deadline.

Step 2: Take Admission-Related Exams (May to July)

After selecting some universities that match your interest, you should sit for your English language tests and any other tests the university asks for. You may need to take the TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, ACT, GMAT, or GRE based on the admission criteria set by the universities you shortlist. No matter which tests you take, always have a buffer time in case you need to resit for the test to ace it.

Step 3: Begin Applying to Universities (August to September)

Now, you need to apply to your chosen universities in the USA. Before beginning the admission application, prepare an application essay or letter of intent. In some cases, the university will give you specific directions for your essay. 

Also, collect your letter of recommendation(s) from your previous academic institutions and arrange other essential documents, including academic transcripts, certificates, and more.

Once you have everything, visit each of your chosen university’s websites, create a student profile, and apply for admission by following the steps set on each individual university’s website to help you get admission. For undergraduate admissions, you may be able to apply to multiple universities with one core application through the Common App.

Step 4: Receive Acceptance Letters and Attend Interviews (October to November)

After successfully applying for admission, you will start getting replies from these American institutes. Some colleges or universities may ask you to attend interviews through video calls before you get the acceptance letters. To get the Form I-20, you need to accept admission into one of these universities. You need Form I-20 to apply for your student visa and throughout your international student journey in the USA.

Step 5: Apply for the F-1 Student Visa, Scholarship, or Education Loan (November to December)

After receiving an acceptance letter from your preferred university and confirming admission by paying the enrollment fee, you must apply for the F-1 Student Visa. If you have not already, you can start looking into scholarships and education loans at this stage too.

Here you must remember that the visa processes are complex and may require time. Hence, have patience and be highly conscious while following the procedure to get a student visa on time.

Step 6: Departure (December to January)

Once you receive your visa, it’s time to book your accommodation. We actually recommend starting to research and shortlist your accommodation options before you even apply for the visa. While it’s not a good idea to book a place without having a confirmed visa, doing the legwork ahead of time speeds things up when the visa comes through.

You can opt for either on- or off-campus housing - whatever the case, finalizing your accommodation is a must so you have a home base to land in upon arrival.

Now, you have the acceptance letter and F-1 Student Visa. You must book a flight to the USA and begin your study abroad journey.

Top Universities to Choose for the Spring Intake in the USA

Here are some world-class universities accepting international students through the January intake in the USA.

American Universities
QS World Rankings 2023
Intake Deadline
Johns Hopkins University
Deadline varies from course to course. Most courses’ deadlines are October 15 and September 15
University of California, Berkeley
October 1 to 15
Duke University
October 3 to 15
Pennsylvania State University
October 31
Rowan University  
November 1
University of Florida
September 25 (File completion deadline)
Arizona State University
November 1 (Differs from course to course)
University of New Haven
November 15
Northern Arizona University
Undergraduate - September 15
Graduate - Varies Course Wise

University of Michigan
-January 15 (For International Students)

Myths Surrounding the Spring Intake in the USA

Many students have misconceptions about the spring intake, so they refrain from applying. Below, we will discuss what myths some international students believe concerning the January intake and why you don’t need to worry about them.

Myth #1 - Offers A Few Study Programs

Many think the January intake in the USA provides fewer courses than other intakes. But the actual scenario is quite the opposite. Students who apply for the spring intake get to choose from various study programs on offer by a majority of US universities.

Myth #2 -  Doesn’t Offer Great Courses

Another myth people harbor is that spring intake doesn’t offer top-grade study programs. This is a misconception since you can find many industry-forward courses while applying for the January intake. Above all, the best US faculty will teach these programs. So, there is nothing to worry about regarding the quality of these courses.

Myth #3 - Offers Few Scholarship Programs

Many students believe this intake comes with fewer scholarship opportunities than other intakes. However, this isn’t true at all. You can find many scholarship programs while checking several universities’ websites for shortlisting.

Myth #4 - Getting Admission Becomes Challenging

Many students think it will be challenging to get admission if they choose the spring intake instead of the fall intake. Well, the actual scenario is different. In essence, many students can secure guaranteed seats in their favorite courses by applying through the January intake. Some even argue that the January intake is somewhat easier since it’s less competitive than the Fall intake.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which is the Best Intake in the USA?

Fall is the best and primary intake in the USA. Nearly all American academic institutions offer myriad courses through this intake. Not only this, but you can also find comparatively more scholarship opportunities under this intake than other mainstream ones.

What is the Ideal IELTS Score to Apply for the January Intake?

Different colleges and universities require students to ace varied scores in the IELTS exam to qualify for admission. Usually, most American educational institutes want cohorts to achieve at least a 6 to 6.5 band score to become eligible for entry.

Can You Submit Duolingo Scores to Apply for the January Intake?

Indeed, you can submit Duolingo scores instead of IELTS to get admission to a US college or university. In this case, you have to choose some Duolingo-accepting universities in the USA that accept the DET scores to qualify for admission.

Our Concluding Thoughts

Although the January intake in the USA is less popular and surrounded by misconceptions, you shouldn’t avoid applying for this one. You can aim to apply for the spring intake to secure a smooth entrance to your favorite American university. We hope this guide will help you along the way and support you in beginning your study abroad journey effortlessly!