Fall vs Spring Advantages

Apply to US for Fall vs. Spring? Advantages for Scholarships, TAs, RAs, etc.?

In Application Info by KumarUpdated : 50 Comments

When you choose to apply to US Universities for studying Masters (MS/MBA) or even PhD program, depending on the time of graduation and when you take GRE and TOEFL, you are often confused on what term to apply… either to apply for Fall or Spring. There are some misconceptions among students too about admissions and visas like : “ Is it easy to get admission in Spring ?  Will visa stamping be easier in Spring ? Many visas get rejected in Fall ? , etc”. This article will focus on some of the advantages of fall and when is it advisable to apply either Fall or Spring.

Before we jump in, we should understand the academic year, fall, spring and summer terms in US schools.

Academic Year – Fall, Spring and Summer Term

One of the most important things for admission are getting funding of any sort.  First we need to understand academic year concept, when the terms start and end.  For instance, in India, typically for High School or 12th grade, it starts anywhere between July or August and ends anywhere between March or May next year. Of course, it varies by country. The same concept applies to  Masters or Bachelors program in US Universities. The academic year starts in August/September and ends in May for most of the schools.  Summer is optional and many students end up working in internships or in summer jobs of any kind to earn some money for school.

  • Fall Term : Starts in August – Ends in December
  • Spring Term : Starts in January – Ends in May
  • Summer Term : Starts in June – Ends in August.

Scholarships, Fellowships, Assistantships (TA, RA, GA)

Most of the scholarships, Fellowships, Teaching assistantships(TA) and Research Assistantships(RA) are  given to students for one academic year. It may vary for TA, RA and GAs based on the offering of classes, but most of the Scholarships and Fellowships for sure are awarded in fall for one year. (You may read What are TA, RA, GA and their Funding ). What does that mean ? There will be less funding options in Spring available in universities.  One more logical thing, most of the students start their college in Fall and Graduate in Spring. From TA, RA and GAs perspective, there is a high chance of senior students graduating and you have more opportunities for funding.   Fundamentally, most of the students try to continue in the regular academic year schedule that they are used to since high school unless they mess up something or take additional time or break for specific reasons.

Course Offerings – Introduction vs Advanced

Another important thing to consider is regarding course offerings in Fall vs. Spring. In general, most of the classes that are offered in Fall are prerequisites for advanced courses offered in Spring.  For instance, you may have “Introduction to Data Structures” in Fall and “Advanced Data Structures” would be offered in Spring and have the one in Fall as prerequisite. The basic idea is that class schedules are planned with a progression of starting in Fall and continuing with the course work in Spring. Most of these Fall classes are offered once in an year and they have set schedules like this particular course will be in Fall and others will be only offered in Spring. If you apply for Spring and come to US, you have a disadvantage in choosing your classes. You may not be following the usual University class schedule plan. One caveat is that this pretty much depends on school’s number of professors and their offerings.

Class students’ Composition, Team projects

Students around you in the class maybe an important thing to consider as well.  If you are a new student starting in Spring, the group of students who may be with you in classes, are very likely one semester ahead of you as they would have started in Fall as per general academic year cycle. You may be at disadvantage, when choosing students for group projects, because students in Fall would already have their group project teams selected and most of them tend to stick to their groups, if there is bond established.  Of course, there is no hard set rule, it is just a flexibility thing to have your own group. Logically, if you know the people and team you worked with, you prefer to work with those students in rest of the class projects too right ?

Student Organizations and Involvement

If you like to be part of any student organizations on campus, Fall is when most of the recruiting for the student organizations is done. Many organizations plan their activities for an academic year with events kick off starting in Fall. Also, if you plan to run for any position like President or Treasure in an organization, Elections for organizations happen typically at the end of Spring, so that new leaders are ready for fall. If you are starting in Spring,  you do not know how the organizations work; people in student organization do not know you as a person; you may have hard time winning the election because of lack of network in the organization. You may read 8 reasons why you should join Student Organizations

On Campus Jobs Availability Schools

Most of the on campus jobs are filled in Fall, due to the fact that most of the students leave the University by graduating in Summer or Spring. Also, new positions may be available due to expansion of any facilities that kick off in Fall. Read How to get On-Campus Job in US Schools

Finding Summer Internships

Summer internships chances are more favorable for students who come to US in fall because they would have completed half of their coursework and have enough qualifications. You know your professors better and they can give you better recommendations. If you come in Fall, you get to know the system well in US, network by joining few student organizations and increase your chances for Summer internships. You will have a good resume too because you have lot of things of class work, leadership and volunteering skills you can add to make your resume stronger. Also, check Working CPT vs OPT

Weather if you plan to attend schools in Northern States:

This may not be a big deal, but if you are coming from a warm country with 70 – 80 F ( 21 C to 27 Celsius), it would be a challenge to adjust to the cold temperatures in Northern states immediately with Snow and freezing temperatures of -20 F to 20 F ( -29 C to  – 6 Celsius ). This may not  necessarily apply for Southern states. Advantage of Fall is that it starts off with less cold climate and then gets cold, so you get used to it.

What if you get admission for Spring only – Is it really so BAD ?

No, not really. All the stuff said above, are the advantages of applying for Fall.  But, for some reason, you had to take a break or you could not come to US for Fall, you should NOT waste another 7 – 8 Months of your career, just for these advantages. Some of these may be nice to have, but not worth wasting time. The goal of my explanation is for all of those who have a choice to plan ahead of time to apply for Fall and come to US for Fall. If you miss Fall for some reason, do not worry. There are always chances and you have to work a little smarter and harder to get the opportunities.

What do you think? Fall or  Spring ?  Your experience ?


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Comments ( 50 )

  1. Nitesh Mittal

    Hello sir,
    I want to apply for spring and didn’t give the gre yet, i need a month to prepare and planning to give the exam in oct end
    Is there any chance to get admission in spring.
    Please reply

  2. venkatareddy

    hi sir,
    I want to write gre exam on october for me is there any chances to go us for this fall .Till now i didnt complete any proceedings related to my study

  3. prem kumar

    my name is prem kumar. my gre score is 290 and i have to write tofel.
    i’m not statisfied with my gre score so i want to write it again, i may complete it by feb. can i get scholarship if i apply after feb for fall. If not should i wait till spring.

  4. mani

    recently i got rejected visa for SVU
    there is no time to go to visa again , university starts on the 8th of this month,
    may i know the universities which are starts from September 2nd week.
    thanking you.

  5. Bharat

    If I start college in Spring, is it possible for me to cover up with the students who applied for Fall the previous year and that we graduate together?
    I mean to ask, is it possible to cover 4 years of coursework in 3.5 years?

  6. smitha

    I got rejects from all the univs I applied for in Fall 2015 . I am looking to apply for Spring 2016, is that a good idea? Or is it advisable for me to wait till next Fall?

  7. k.giridhar chowdary

    i would like to take only ielts and prefer to do ms in usa in the stream of electrical engineering .would i get a better college or not ? which season will be suitable i mean either spring or fall & can i get scholarships as i am having 58%in b.tech if in a case if i get scholarship at howmuch percentage ? to get a better college howmany points i have to score in ielts….. please suggest me sir/madam kindly

  8. anuj

    Hello Kumar,
    Its good that you are spending your valuable time in responding to the questions posted. Thank you so much.
    I have a query regarding US VISA slot booking.
    I got admission into an University for Fall through referral.I received confirmation from University just a few days ago.. I have TOEFL slot on May 30. Kindly let me know is the time sufficient to apply for Visa

    Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator

      Usually Fall starts around August , I think you should be fine. Just need to plan your time. Check your school start date and plan for visa interview before that after your TOEFL

  9. Shaik Maqsood

    i have done my gre n ielts n even i approached the consulate for d visa for 4 timesit has been regected so can i apply it once more it was in d month of nov, decmber. so some one plz help me out . thanking you

  10. Sudharsan

    Hello Kumar,
    I am confused with one thing.. Im writing my ielts at Feb and results will be available only at the end of February… Is still a chance for me apply for fall and get scholarship n admission…. Hope for your earlier reply

    1. narendra

      I will write IELTS 28th Feb .The result will out on march.when the spring admissions will start.I interest to do MS in US. please tell me .when will universities starting admissions.

  11. shailaja

    i want to write my gre in octember ,but i didnt apply for slot if i apply now i wil get slot in octember ha .if i wrte -gre exam in nov i wil get scholarship pls help out.

  12. Ravi

    Hi Kumar
    I am a 2014 passout I’ve just stared working .. would it be possible for me to prepare for GRE and TOEFL in a month.. So that i can apply for Fall 2015.
    Pls guide me.
    Thanks in advance.

  13. tanmay

    How much does being an year-down student during BE matter during the admissions for MS..??
    Though my aggregate is around 55 right now..thats like a 7+ cgpa from my Pune university..hopes are that it’ll raise by the end of my BE course. Presently I am in the third year of my engg course pursuing a degree in Electronics and Telecommunication.

  14. sandeep kumar

    hii kumar..myself im uday..im pursuing my btech final year..im too greedy of doing ms in us..the first time i hav taken my GRE i was not satishfied with my score..so want to retake again..but by the time i take GRE and then TOEFEL i would end somewhere between 1st week of january..i heard from my frns that admissions for fall 2014 hav started and likely to end up in mid of january of 1st week of feb in order to get some sort of financial aid..i have no problem of starting my course in spring 2015 but afraid of whether i would get financial aid in spring or not because it is the only prior reason with which i scheduled my course to spring..if i would apply well advance for spring dont i have a chance for funding.?and aa the part time jobs closed for spring admittants as dey wd be fill up by fall admittants prior.?pls pls do reply my post..eagerly waiting for your reply..thanx well in advance..:)

  15. aanchal

    i have completed my masters in biotechnology this year..i am looking forward to apply for stipned Ph.D. does any university grants admission in spring too?? or only in fall?

  16. Saakshi

    Okay so i’m currently in A-levels(12th grade) studying Psychology and Business. The teachers and classes are absolutely useless to attend, I self study most of the time. I took this break thinking it will be better.. But right now I’m considering to join an American university in the Spring Semester after completing my AS exams . I’m not sure whether it would be worthwhile.
    Help would be appreciated !

  17. Piyush Upadhyay


    I am a working professionals in TCS having 1.2 years of experience.I started my weekend preparations in September.Initially thought of giving GRE in November.But,being prepaertion not up to the mark,forcing me to stop giving exam till october.
    1) Will it be good if I go for spring?
    2) Will I be able to get good colleges in US if i go for Spring and apply for Embedded or CS field?
    3) As told above that Fall is better in various perspectives, what if I go for another countries?
    Are there good colleges in other countries too?If yes,Can i have the name of them for Spring intake.

  18. swathi

    I am a BE graduate(2013),I am from a middle class family.I have an aggregate of 75% in degree, 83% in 12th and 96% in 10th. Can I expect an admission from top universities? Please tell me the detailed procedure step by step for doing MS. How can i get financial aid? Is this an ideal time for MS?does the spring effects any placements?Please help.

  19. Gourav Agrawal

    My Only Question is
    I am still confused in Rise, Fall and Spring
    Can you explain me clearly about these

  20. rohit

    I want to take a admission for MIS but i am e&tc engg.so i have any chance to take admission for MIS.if yes then what i want to do.please tell me….

  21. Anurag

    The post was really helpful,especially the last paragraph.I am planning for Spring 14 in Computer science(Information Security/Networking). I do not want to waste another 7 months of my career . Although I have a Job at hand(I am as of now in my final Engg Semester) but I do not at all want to join it.So will it be advisable to attend a spring course?

    1. Manoj

      hi dude i am also planning for the same spring 2014(Information Security), I think you have done some ground work regarding university’s, If so please mail me the best colleges for Info Security. Mail me @ popurimanoj gamil. com
      come on yar we have the same goal …………..

    2. rupesh

      hey anurag !! even i was looking for networking/information security…can you please mail me the universities you found to rupeshwood gmail.com…

  22. Swathi


    I am planning to persue my masters in computer science.
    I have a engineering score of 72%, no backlogs, one year experiance working in sap, gre score of 286/340, toefl score 92/120. Do you think I can get into any normal ranked universities in California? Can u please suggest me, if I am eligible to apply to sjsu, csueb, scsu, university of san fransisco ? I am planning to apply for fall 2013 batch.

  23. Neha

    Hi kumar,
    I’ve completed my B.E , 2011. I”m currently working in a decent MNC company for a year now. I’m very much interested pursuing MBA in US. I’m preparing for GMAT and planning to start the course by 2014 if every thing goes well.. I’m worried that my undergraduate CGPA isn’t very good. How can I overcome this and get an admission in a decent college for MBA? Will high GMAT score be able to cover this?

  24. uday

    hii kumar..myself im uday..im pursuing my btech final year..im too greedy of doing ms in us..the first time i hav taken my GRE i was not satishfied with my score..so want to retake again..but by the time i take GRE and then TOEFEL i would end somewhere between 1st week of january..i heard from my frns that admissions for fall 2013 hav started and likely to end up in mid of january of 1st week of feb in order to get some sort of financial aid..i have no problem of starting my course in spring 2014 but afraid of whether i would get financial aid in spring or not because it is the only prior reason with which i scheduled my course to spring..if i would apply well advance for spring dont i have a chance for funding.?and aa the part time jobs closed for spring admittants as dey wd be fill up by fall admittants prior.?pls pls do reply my post..eagerly waiting for your reply..thanx well in advance..:)

  25. radhakrishna

    Hi Kumar,

    I am a 2010 passout .done my BTech from VIT University.
    In my engineering I never understood the value of exams and CGPA. I never cared for them.
    And the result is I am left with 15 backlogs only in first four semisters.Then I realized what I was missing..from then I cleared all the papers in first attempt and finally secured 7.4CGPA.
    My question is , If I get a descent score of about 1300 + , is there a chance to get into a Very Good University ? will my score covers all my backlogs?
    Will these backlogs have any effect in University selection?
    I am very much worried about these Backlogs..Rescently I started my preparation for GRE and planning to fly by 2013 fall.
    Please Clarify my doubt.

  26. Ritesh

    hi kumar
    I am now studying in last year BE (IT) . i want to join in for fall admissions ,but prob is I have less than 4 months to give GRE so i am worried should i give GRE within 4 months or aim for Spring admissions . My BE marks are not that good and i had 8 backlogs in my carrier till now (in these 3 years) . So can u tell me what score should i get to get admission to good University in US for CS.
    Plzz reply need help.
    Thank you.

  27. Alekhya

    hii frds.. I have just completed my B.Tech n have a small doubt about revised pattern of GRE. hey if we write GRE in aug, we will b getting the score on nov-8th.. so can we apply in nov to colleges for spring? can we get the I20 and admission by time? some plz reply me. Thanx in advance 🙂

    1. administrator

      Santosh, Scholarships do not work like that….It all depends on the scholarship type and the endowment for the scholarship. Typically, there are more scholarships available for Fall as the academic year starts from Fall.

  28. karthi

    Hi Kumar,
    i would like to know ur opinion on these things
    > i am planning for jan-11(spring). what is the best time to apply for gre?
    > what would be the reasonable score for gre/toefl to recieve an aid?

    thank you,

  29. Rakesh

    Hi Kumar,

    I always dream of studying/working in the US. I’m working for one of the largest Indian MNCs for the past 2yr 6months. At first, i thought i will get an H1B for 2011 and work in the US. But, i was not selected for the H1B elite group that my company picked up for this year. I have to wait for 2012 and again, there is no surity as such. As per new rules of H1B(employee-employer relation doc), i don’t have hopes on any consultancy if they could secure me a visa and good job.

    With all these thoughts in my mind, i again recollected my desire for studying in the US. One of my elders suggested me to do MS from a very good university which offers campus placements. can you please give your opinion on this. And also please answer the below queries.

    1. Since i got a 3+ years(by the time i apply for Universities) of experience, how would it add to my chances of getting admission into a V.Good university
    2. I did not take GRE yet. what score should i target for? Ofcourse, everyone will try to score over 1400. But, what would be a decent score to get into VGood university, considering my experience.
    3. My B.E. aggregate is 70.1% , Intermediate – 96.3%, 10th – 89.8%. How does these help in getting admission as well as scholarship. By the way, I’m planning for Jan 2011(spring) as fall 2010 admissions are already started.

    Please help.
    Thanks In Advance,

    1. administrator

      Rakesh, I understand your situation. You will have to be clear on your goal before you decide anything. Work in US or may be just study and get PhD, etc. With visa rules be realistic on your work vs study goals.

      First thing, your experience will help for MBA, I do not know if it makes a difference for MS. Honestly, I do not exactly know about MS if they consider your work experience. They may, but I do not know. Other thing is, your research experience in B.tech or any publications is a plus though for MS admission. As I said, MS vs MBA in the article http://redbus2us.com/2009/12/should-i-studyapply-for-ms-or-mba-in-us-after-b-tech-b-com-mba-vs-ms-fees-degree-focus-and-funding-issues-explained.html see the differences.

      About score, decent would be around 1300. Anything less will slim your chances of good Univ ( You are asking for GOOD universities) . About 10th and Inter percentage, no one cares about them for the most part in most of the universities. Only B.tech is what matters.

      Hope it helps,

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