Trinity Hall and the River Cam.

The 8 key things you need to consider when choosing a Cambridge College

24 January 2023

The article at a glance

When you join the MFin programme at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School you will also become a member of one of the University’s 31 Colleges located in and around Cambridge. Find out what you need to know.

Category: News Programme news

When you join the MFin programme at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School you will also become a member of one of the University’s 31 Colleges located in and around Cambridge. What you need to know.

The collegiate system at the University of Cambridge is a unique part of your student experience. College life will be an important and memorable part of your year in Cambridge. This is where you’ll eat, sleep, play sports, network, socialise, revise – and ultimately graduate alongside your fellow College members.

We’ll work with you and apply for you

Once you have secured your place on the programme, we’ll support you throughout the process of finding your College place. We will work with you to compile your top three College preferences and apply to them on your behalf.

How to choose the right College: what to consider

It’s important to note that Colleges come in all different shapes and sizes, each with their unique histories and characters. So how do you pick which one to join? Here are some key factors to consider when making your choice.

1. Postgraduate only or mixed College

While the majority of Colleges house both undergraduates and postgraduate students, there are a number of postgraduate-only Colleges. As a postgraduate student on the MFin you might prefer to live solely with postgraduate students, who tend to be more mature in age and lend a calmer, quieter vibe to postgraduate Colleges. Clare Hall and Darwin are postgraduate-only Colleges. All Cambridge Colleges admit mature students, but Hughes Hall, St Edmund’s and Wolfson are exclusively for mature students aged 21 or over.

2. Join your fellow MFin students or escape for some down-time

Christ's College gate.
Image credit: Sir Cam

You might want to integrate your home life and the MFin by living in a College which hosts a big group of MFin and MBA students each year. The advantages of this would be time to form closer friendships with your fellow MFin classmates, network with MBA students, group revision sessions and other MFin-related social activities. MFin-majority Colleges include Hughes Hall, St Edmund’s, Wolfson, and Darwin.

On the flip side, you may want to have some time away from your MFin classmates when you get home, to integrate with other students from the University. If this is the case opt for other Colleges with smaller intakes of MFin students; the admissions team will advise you on these. 

3. Enjoy the Cambridge traditions

Each College has its own character, traditions, and a rich history. All of the Cambridge Colleges take part in events such May Balls and formal dinners, also known as a ‘formal hall’ – a dinner attended by College residents while wearing gowns. Some Colleges are renowned for their culinary flair, and as a member of a College you’ll be able to get spare tickets for friends from other Colleges to join you in a formal hall. For more insight into College life, remember to check the College social media channels during your research.

4. Coming with a partner or family

This will have a big impact on your College choice with some Colleges better equipped to provide partner and family accommodation, for example Churchill or St Edmund’s. Family accommodation is usually in self-contained flats on College grounds, or flats and houses off-site from the College itself. Alternatively you do not need to live in the College at which you become a member, you can find accommodation elsewhere in the city such as a private rented house.

5. Sports facilities

Many Colleges have a strong focus on sport with associated teams and resources for this, such as boat houses and gyms. Investigate the sports teams you might want to join and make your College choice accordingly.

6. Modern living

Most accommodation will comprise of single rooms with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. If your priority is an ensuite bathroom and other mod-cons, you might want to choose a newer College. If you prefer modern accommodation then consider Girton, Hughes Hall, Lucy Cavendish or Wolfson. The Postgraduate Admissions website can provide more information about the types and location of accommodation available at each of the Colleges. The Colleges also have their own websites where you can find details about their postgraduate student accommodation.

Students sitting outside of Pembroke College.
Image credit: Sir Cam

7. Proximity to the Business School

Cambridge is a relatively small city and is easy to navigate on foot or by bicycle. Some Colleges are within a very close proximity to the Cambridge Judge, meaning a five-minute walk at most, while others are a short bike ride away. The Colleges located in the city centre tend to be older and the more modern colleges are a short walk from the town centre. ​Postgraduate accommodation is not always located on the main College site, so check this carefully when doing your research.

8. Accommodation availability

Each College offers a range of student accommodation and your College will guide you through the allocation process. Most MFin students live in College accommodation during their time in Cambridge, but the Colleges cannot guarantee accommodation to every postgraduate student. Demand can often outstrip supply, especially later in the admissions cycle, so accommodation tends to be offered on a first-come-first-served basis. But don’t worry, if your College is unable to offer you accommodation, the University’s Accommodation Service can help you find somewhere to live.

Which Cambridge Colleges do most MFin students go to?

The majority of MFin students are in Darwin, Hughes Hall, St Catherine’s, St Edmund’s, and Wolfson. These Colleges generally have modern accommodation, and they are all close to the Business School. Some Colleges place a strong emphasis on academic performance, and others only have a limited number of postgraduate places available. Therefore, it may be the case that you cannot apply to some Colleges, or your preferred College may no longer be available, but the MFin admissions team will be able to advise you on this.

Remember, no matter which College you join, you will become part of a welcoming and supportive community of postgraduate students.