The best Cambridge colleges

The Best Cambridge Colleges in 2024

What is the best Cambridge college for you? There is nothing more exciting than this part of the Cambridge application process.

Cambridge University has 29 undergraduate colleges. If you are applying to Cambridge, you will have to make hard choices for your future.  

How to Choose a Cambridge College

There is a distinct personality to every college, and their facilities and accommodations vary as well.

While you’ll continue to attend lectures and seminars at your university department, your college choice will impact your day-to-day life. 

This guide gives you the inside scoop on the best Cambridge colleges, accommodation and facilities at different colleges, as well as college rankings and acceptance rates.

Recommended reading:

Best Cambridge Colleges

Tompkins table is the ranking list of Cambridge colleges. Rankings of undergraduate academic performance are based on final-year exams.

The Tompkins Table ranks colleges based on academic performance alone – it does not rank accommodation, funding, or facilities. 

Tompkins Table can be a good guide if you place a high value on academic performance.

Christ’s College recently topped the table, closely followed by Trinity College and St. Catharine’s. 

Trinity Hall College is placed second on the Tompkins table ranking in 2022
Trinity Hall College is placed second on the Tompkins table ranking in 2022

College life in Cambridge is more than just academic performance. Your only guide shouldn’t be the Tompkins Table. 

Choose a Cambridge college based on your top three priorities, such as Cambridge student accommodation with an ensuite, all events, or sports facilities.

Tompkins Table Rankings

Here are the top 10 colleges at Cambridge university according to Tompkins table rankings in 2022

Keep in mind, rankings are not published in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PositionCollegeScore%FirstsPosition in 2019
3St Catharine’s72.2538.869
6St John’s70.7135.3615
7Gonville and Caius70.432.4516
9Corpus Christi69.6133.2111
2022 Tompkins Table Rankings

Cambridge Colleges Acceptance Rate 

In 2022, 22,470 students applied to Cambridge University, and 4,238 were offered places for the 2022 academic year. Competition for places is high! 

The acceptance rate for Cambridge colleges in 2022 is around 15.7%.

1 in 4 undergraduate students received an offer in 2022.

Thus, many students wonder whether certain colleges have a higher Cambridge acceptance rate – can you improve your chances of getting into a college based on its acceptance rate?

Learn more: Cambridge University Acceptance Rate For UK & International Students

Cambridge College acceptance rates are lower at some colleges. The number of applications at Clare Hall, Emmanuel College, Jesus College, King’s College, St. John’s, Trinity College, and Trinity Hall is significantly higher than the number of acceptances.

However, Fitzwilliam, Homerton, and Robinson have balanced applications and acceptances.

Acceptance Rate by Courses

The most competitive undergraduate programmes at Cambridge University according to the Admission report:

CourseAcceptance rate
BSc Computer Science10%
MB, BChir Medicine13%
BA Architecture15%
BA Economics16%
MEng Engineering12.4%
BA Law19%
BA Psychological and Behavioural Sciences20%
BA Human, Social, and Political Sciences22%
BA Philosophy23%

Cambridge Collegiate System

Cambridge is among the most popular collegiate universities. They have 31 colleges, of which 29 accept undergraduate applications. All colleges are based on departments in different academic courses and subjects.  

Students apply to their chosen college and course at the start of their university life. They usually stay at the same college until graduation. 

With the start of their study, students become part of a unique college community, making friends and spreading their network. 

Choosing a Cambridge College

In general, top applicants’ college choices do not affect their chances of receiving a place at Cambridge. Applicants who are not accepted by the college of their first choice but are still considered to be top applicants may even be assigned to a different college. 

The university admissions team can assign you a college if you make an open application.

Recommended reading: UCAS Application Process and Deadlines

The Most Popular Cambridge Colleges 

Among hopeful applicants, the best Cambridge colleges are: Christ’s College topped the list in 2022, followed by Trinity College, Jesus College and St. Catharine’s.

Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge

Due to their classic ‘Cambridge’ architecture, central location, and abundant funding, these colleges are often the most popular.

If you want one of the more popular colleges at Cambridge, don’t fret about applying – it won’t affect the likelihood of your application being accepted!

The Best Cambridge Colleges for Law 

Downing is often called the law college. The Cranworth Society, part of Downing college, is the largest student-run college law society in Cambridge. Provides opportunities for networking and learning more about solicitors and chambers. 

There is also a great programme for law at Gonville and Caius College, as many law fellows are committed to student learning and diversity.

Read our full guide:

The Best Cambridge Colleges for Medicine 

If you are planning to become a great Doctor in the future, Pembroke College is a good choice at Cambridge University. 

Located next to Addenbrookes Hospital where the Cambridge Department of Medicine is, Pembroke’s location is perfect for medicine students. 

Most colleges are accessible by bike, so Addenbrookes Hospital shouldn’t be your only consideration. Medical students at Fitzwilliam have great on-campus facilities, and all medical students receive textbooks from the university. 

Read our full guide:

The Best Cambridge Colleges for Natural Sciences and STEM

There are about 35 NatSci students at Churchill College every year, so you are more likely to meet people with similar interests and subject peers. 

Churchill College offers a wide range of computer science courses. Proximity to the university’s computer labs makes Robinson an excellent choice for students studying Computer Sciences. Peterhouse has many links and connections to CERN, while Trinity College has produced 32 Nobel Prize-winning scientists!

Read complete guide: The Best Cambridge Colleges for Computer Science

Which Cambridge college is best for you?

The Best Cambridge Colleges for Social Life 

Opt for a centrally located college if you want to enjoy Cambridge’s nightlife alongside your studies. Known for its underground bar, Clare’s College hosts weekly ‘Ents’ nights (‘Ents’ refers to a party or night out in Cambridge). 

Going out isn’t the only way to socialise in Cambridge. College communities at Fitzwilliam, Girton, and Jesus are known for being friendly. 

When looking for college accommodation, it’s best to visit the college website or, at the very least, look at the gallery pictures. The on-campus accommodations at Queen’s are a great choice if accommodation is a priority. 

With the very affordable meal options, they are positioned as a good choice for students. 

The Robinson has more modern accommodation, and almost every room has an ensuite.

The Most Authentic Cambridge College 

You’ll find a historic college with fancy formalities if you want the authentic Cambridge experience.

The architecture at King’s is impressive, and the ambience at Pembroke is cosy and quaint. With its deer park, Peterhouse is one of Cambridge’s oldest colleges. 

Lastly, Magdalen College has a famous formal dinner every night, there is nothing more Cambridge than that. The dinners are very popular. They are almost like in the movie Harry Potter at Hogwarts. 

FAQs About Colleges

Which college is the hardest to get into at Cambridge?

According to statistical data in the past 20 years, the hardest colleges to get into are Kings, Clare and Emma, whether they get the best applicants overall is a different matter entirely.

Which Cambridge College is most prestigious?

The most prestigious colleges are Christ’s, Trinity, Pembroke, and Peterhouse. 

Which Cambridge College has the best library?

The best libraries in Cambridge are The University Library, Wren Library at Trinity College, Pepys Library at Magdalene College and Parker Library at Christi College. 

Is Trinity the best college in Cambridge?

Trinity is the second best-performing college in 2022 according to Tompkins table. It has the best undergraduate exams, with the highest percentage of good honours. Members of Trinity have been awarded 34 Nobel Prizes out of the 121 received by members of Cambridge University (the highest of any college at either Oxford or Cambridge).