University Intake Timeline: USA


If you’re reading this, you are most likely considering carrying out your higher studies in a top US university. As per our experience, what every successful Study Abroad venture has in common is this – it is based on a well-planned and structured timeline. While each student’s timeline will differ based on a number of individual factors, we’ve put together a timeline for you to get an idea of what yours could – and should – look like.

Universities in the USA follow a dual semester system. While in India, students can only enter university in the first semester, in the USA, students have the ability to commence their studies in whichever semester suits them, subject to various factors including course availability.

The Hurray Overseas Education Consultant team has put together some information on the intakes so that you can decide on your choice of university.


  1. Fall Semester: commences in late August-early September

  2. Spring Semester: commences in January

The exact date of intake will differ as per the university, and sometimes as per the programme, particularly in the case of graduate programmes. As and when you zero in on a particular university and/or programme, remember to keep note of the specific intake dates in order to plan accordingly. 

The following timeline is based on the assumption that you would be opting for the Fall semester intake in 2021, which is often preferred by Indian applicants.


Step 1: Research and selection – June-July 2020

  • This is the step that most of you reading this post, are probably on – researching which universities and programmes are best suited to what you want to study in USA You may have started earlier or later – but by the end of July you should preferably have chosen the universities and programmes to which you wish to apply.

Step 2: Clearing standardised tests – July-October 2020

  • You are probably aware that for admission to a US University, you would be required to provide proof of sufficient proficiency in the language. Universities in the USA accept a number of English proficiency tests as proof of the same, preferably IELTS or TOEFL.

  • Other important entrance exams that certain programmes demand include GRE, GMAT and so on.

  • Thus, before you can apply to a university, preparing for and clearing these tests is essential – this three to four month period (though you may certainly begin earlier), is meant for just that.

  • Plan to take the test, leaving yourself with enough time to get your certificate, in time to process your application.

At Hurray we offer specialised training courses especially for IELTS – enrol with us, and we will ensure that you are prepped and ready to take the test on time, and clear it with the required score – or higher!

Step 3: Applying to university – November 2020-January 2021

Application deadlines 

For Fall semester (late August-September) – the deadline is usually between January-March of the same year.

  • Each university will have differing application deadlines. Additionally, particularly in the case of graduate programmes, individual programmes may have differing deadlines. 

  • It is essential to keep track of the exact deadlines for your preferred programmes.

  • Several of the universities are ranked among the best in the world – thus entry becomes quite competitive. Certain programmes may have limited seats and will close applications once they are filled, with later applications being considered for the following intake.

  • Furthermore, international students require time to apply for and receive their visas, book flight tickets and relocate internationally.

  • For these reasons, we recommend completing and submitting your application well in advance of the recommended or final deadlines.

  • Assuming you are applying for the Fall semester, you should be prepped and ready to submit your application, with all the necessary supporting documents – including your Statement of Purpose, college essays, Letters or Recommendation and so on, as applicable to your programme, by late December 2020 or early January 2021.

  • If you have identified a scholarship that you wish to apply for, it will have its own deadline – in this case you will have to process your admission accordingly.

Step 4: Notification of acceptance and preparing to relocate – April-July 2021

  • Your letter of acceptance usually arrives in early-to-mid April. You then have until May 1, in most cases, to confirm with the university that you will be attending.

  • Once you confirm enrolment and pay your fees, the next important step is your Visa application

  • The university will provide you with the official documentation required to process your visa.

  • The visa can be issued up to 120 days (approximately 4 months) prior to the start date of your programme. To ensure that you receive your visa on time, we recommend you file your application as early as possible.

  • The visa process will require that you schedule an interview at the nearest US Embassy/Consulate – the approximate wait time for the interview is usually about a month, though it could be longer. Applicants for a student visa are usually given priority.

  • Following the interview and submission of all documents, you should receive your visa within a few weeks.

  • You will be allowed to enter the country 30 days prior to the start date of your programme. Depending on how much time you would require to find accommodation and settle down in your new home-city, you can book your flight tickets accordingly.

Step 5: Commence study! – August-September 2021

  • If you follow the steps as specified till here, you will be settled and ready before it is time to enter university. 

  • As per the intake date of your programme, you will have an Orientation Week, following which, your programme will officially begin.

Based on your specific dates, your timeline may have variations – but you can nonetheless use the above structure, keeping in mind the number of weeks each step requires, in addition to the key dates for your preferred programme, and plan accordingly.

But why do it all by yourself? Our Overseas Counselling team here at Hurray has the expertise required to help you plan your timeline, as well as to carry out each step to success. To learn how we can tailor our services to your exact requirements, book your one-on-one counselling session now! Reach out to us via email:, or phone: 8971357928, for more details.

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