How Colleges and Schools Work at the University of Cambridge

By University of Cambridge Modified on August 04, 2023
Tags : Academics | Campus Life | Community

Cambridge is made up of dozens of colleges, faculties, and schools, which can be confusing for newcomers! Here's how they work.

How Colleges and Faculties Work at the University of Cambridge

With more than 20,000 students from all walks of life and all corners of the world, over 12,000 staff, 31 Colleges and 150 Departments, Faculties, Schools and other institutions, no two days are ever the same at the University of Cambridge.

The University is a confederation of Schools, Faculties, Departments, and Colleges. The 31 Colleges are governed by their own statutes and regulations, but are integral to the make-up of the University.

As well as being a member of the University and of an academic Faculty/Department, our students also belong to a College community, an arrangement that offers pastoral and academic support for each individual.


Students live, eat, and socialize in one of the University's 31 autonomous Colleges. Undergraduates receive College supervisions — small group teaching sessions — regarded as one of the best teaching models in the world.

Each College has its own internal procedures. They select their own students, subject to University regulations, and most admit both undergraduate and postgraduate students. College representatives sit on the University Council and Finance Committee.

Explore Cambridge's many Colleges, and choose to apply to the one that looks most appealing to you based on your interests and ambitions.

See the full list of Cambridge Colleges here.


There are six Schools, which each form an administrative grouping of Faculties and other institutions. They are:

There is a Council of each School — including representatives of its Faculties and Departments. The Schools are represented on the General Board.

The School you apply to is decided by your program of interest.


University Faculties organize teaching and research into individual subjects or groups of subjects. Their work is normally organized into sub-divisions called Departments. Further, many fields have Centres of study as well. Centres are controlled by committees of management, bringing together representatives from several disciplines.

The basic idea is to create spaces for collaboration and innovation, within specific disciplines, and across multiple fields.

Most Faculties and Centres have their own websites where you can explore their work. See the full list of our Departments here.

The short version

Basically, when you apply to the University of Cambridge, you'll choose your program of study, which determines which School and Faculty you'll study under. You'll apply through a College of your choice, each with its own clubs and specialties, that will help you form a community of like-minded peers.

Explore Cambridge's 31 unique Colleges

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