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England Study Abroad Program at Pembroke College

About Pembroke College in Cambridge, England

  • Minimum GPA: 3.7 (4.0 scale)
  • Application deadlines: May 1 for spring two terms (Jan-June)
    May 1 for fall (Sept-Dec)
    We recommend early application to Pembroke College.
  • Program advisor: Aimee Formo
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Program Snapshot


We're so excited that you're considering IFSA-Butler's program at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. Cambridge is a university town with great student theater, pubs and restaurants. We're sure you're going to love studying there!

What Pembroke has to offer

  • Founded in 1347 and one of Cambridge's oldest colleges
  • A traditional atmosphere but also home to some of the University's newest facilities
  • An easygoing and harmonious atmosphere, as well as supportive instructors
  • Convenient location near the city center
  • Extensive extracurricular clubs, societies and sports groups


  • Students live in study-bedrooms in or near college
  • Students can choose to cook their own meals or eat in the dining hall


  • Extremely competitive admission
  • The supervision system allows for great academic freedom and research possibilities
  • Visiting Students study one subject
  • Course load varies by subject
  • Some subjects are unavailable for the two-term spring program

We look forward to working with you!


Academic Structure

How is Cambridge University structured?
There is no campus for Cambridge University. The university is a federation of 31 colleges that are scattered throughout the city, and each has its own grounds and buildings. The colleges are autonomous and have their own tutors, fellows and administration. Students are admitted to both the university and their member colleges, and they enjoy academic and social privileges on both the university and collegiate levels.

Cambridge colleges are responsible for undergraduate admissions, arranging supervisions, student welfare, meals and accommodation. The university, through its faculties and departments, is responsible for university-wide lectures, graduate admissions, arranging degree examinations and conferring degrees. Individual departments of the university provide lecturers, research facilities and specialized departmental libraries.

What is Pembroke College like?
Founded in 1347, Pembroke is one of the oldest colleges at Cambridge. The college is in a convenient location in Cambridge but is fortunate to be off the main tourist track. Its students come from a variety of backgrounds, from the United Kingdom and overseas, and study a wide range of disciplines. Pembroke students are active in both collegiate and university sports, societies and committees, and the college is particularly known for music. Pembroke offers frequent concerts on its grounds, and the college choir regularly tours Europe. Pembroke is average-sized, with about 400 undergraduate students, and is proud of the diversity of its student body. It actively recruits minority applicants and students from schools and colleges with little or no Cambridge tradition.

What is the academic structure at Cambridge?
Cambridge calls their approach to education the Tripos system, which has three components: supervisions, lectures and exams.

  • Supervisions - While most universities in the United States and the United Kingdom rely on lectures, classes and seminars as their main mode of teaching, supervisions are the main mode of teaching at Cambridge. Your supervisions may be supplemented with seminars, but they are secondary to supervisions.

    The supervision system can vary slightly depending on the discipline, but generally speaking, a supervision consists of a 60-minute, in-depth discussion between one to four students and a tutor assigned by the college. Supervision meeting times are traditionally arranged between the tutor and the student upon arrival. Supervisions can also be held in a variety of locations: a college room, university building or even in the tutor's home.

    The great advantage of the supervision is that for an entire hour, you have the undivided attention of an expert in the subject at hand. However, be prepared for the fact that you must become accustomed to self-directed study and working independently.
  • Lectures - The University organizes lectures that are open to students from all 31 colleges. Much of this teaching is formal, with up to 600 students in attendance. You are expected to listen and take notes, but in general not to ask questions. Lecturers may be faculty members from any of the Cambridge colleges, or they may be visitors from outside the university. Lectures are usually mandatory only for science students, but arts and humanities students may find lectures to be helpful supplements to their supervisions and research activities. Pembroke College also regularly runs their own lectures for subjects that are particularly popular among their students.
  • Exams - At the end of the academic year, all IFSA-Butler students are required to sit exams alongside full degree-seeking Cambridge students. Most of your grade will be based on your exam, which typically involves writing an exam paper on one of your supervision topics in a formal exam setting that lasts approximately three hours.

What happens during a supervision?
A supervision is a chance for you to sit down and discuss the paper you've prepared for that week. In the traditional supervision, students will read the essay aloud to the tutor, although today many tutors might ask to take the essay home with them or will request the essay early in order to read it before the meeting. The tutor will then critique both the approach and the content of the essay, suggest alternative ways of tackling the subject and initiate a more general discussion which may move on to embrace both related and unrelated topics. At the end of the supervision, you will discuss topics for next week's essay.

How do I prepare for a supervision?
In researching and writing the assigned essay, students consult the list of materials they have received from the tutor and also explore related materials. This is a highly individualized method of learning, and supervisions can often be tailored to the student. Keep this in mind when discussing the subject for the next supervision.

Preparing for a supervision is much different than studying for a class or a test. It requires independence, self-discipline and self-motivation. Be prepared to have much more time studying on your own than you are used to having here in the United States. Your tutor will offer suggestions and materials for your next essay, but it is up to you to develop ideas. Outside of your supervisions, it is you and the library. There are no teaching assistants to guide you. While your tutor will accommodate questions, there are no office hours and contacting your tutors continually is not encouraged. Tutors will not simply offer facts and information because they will expect students to present their own thoughts and ideas.

"Cramming" for a supervision is discouraged, as there is generally only one student in the room who is expected to be able to defend the essay and appear knowledgeable about the subject matter. Tutors will know when students do not know what they are talking about! Treat this assignment like a 9-5 job and work on it Monday through Friday during the day. This will also allow you time to relax and meet friends at the Junior Common Room.

Who are the tutors?
Most visiting students at Pembroke College are instructed by tutors from Pembroke College, but sometimes by tutors from other colleges. Visiting students may be taught by Fellows, lecturers or advanced graduate students. The main criterion is that students should have the most appropriate tutors for their own particular interests and needs.

As with degree students, visiting students will be assigned a Director of Studies at their college. This person is usually a senior member of the teaching staff in the student's discipline who will arrange appropriate supervisions, serve as an academic advisor and help with academic or personal problems.

How is Cambridge's academic calendar structured?
The academic calendar at Cambridge is divided into three terms with a month long holiday break between each term. The fall term at Cambridge is called the Michaelmas term. The term that lasts from January to late March is called the Lent term, and the term that lasts from late April to late June is called the Easter term. Students who wish to study at Pembroke College for the spring must study for both the Lent and Easter terms.


What courses am I eligible to take?
There are no traditional classes at Cambridge University. Rather, Cambridge has the Tripos system, which encompasses three components: lectures, supervisions and exams. Students typically have one supervision per term, attend lectures throughout the terms and take exams at the end of the year.

Students applying for the spring two-term semester may study in one of the following departments:

  • Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Studies
  • Architecture
  • Classics
  • Economics
  • English Language and Literature
  • History
  • History of Art
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Human, Social, and Political Science (Political Science, International Affairs, Anthropology)

If you are accepted to study at Pembroke College, a head tutor will contact you to discuss your supervision topic for your first term. You are welcome to submit your areas of interest at this time (e.g., literature post-1700s, British economic and social history, early Hellenic archaeology), but these topics cannot be guaranteed or arranged until a student is able to meet in person with his or her Director of Studies.

What if I need to take a required course?
If you need to take a required course abroad in order to meet graduation or departmental requirements, you should not consider studying at Cambridge. Because of the highly individualized nature of the Cambridge supervision system, visiting students' supervisions cannot be finalized until their arrival at Pembroke. Therefore, applicants may specify only the general subject they intend to study at Pembroke. In addition, visiting students generally are permitted to study only one subject area while at Pembroke, although they will do research and have supervisions in several topics within that subject.

Please be aware that IFSA-Butler cannot guarantee that your host university will offer a particular course, or that you will be allowed to take that particular course.

Course Restrictions

Students applying to the spring two-term semester may study in only one of the following departments:

  • Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Studies
  • Architecture
  • Classics
  • Economics
  • English Language and Literature
  • History
  • History of Art
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science

If you need to take a required course abroad in order to meet graduation or departmental requirements, you should not consider studying at Cambridge. Because of the highly individualized nature of the Cambridge supervision system, visiting students' supervisions cannot be finalized until their arrival at Pembroke. Therefore, applicants may specify only the general subject they intend to study at Pembroke. In addition, visiting students generally are permitted to study only one subject area while at Pembroke, although they will do research and have supervisions in several topics within that subject.


How many courses am I able to take, and how do I determine U.S. semester credit hours?
IFSA-Butler requires students to enroll in a full course load at the host institution as defined by IFSA-Butler. The number of courses you take depends on the credit value of the courses you select. A full course load at Pembroke is one supervision per term (equivalent to 12 U.S. semester credit hours per term). Students studying at Pembroke for the Spring two-term semester will receive 24 U.S. semester credit hours. Students receive 12 U.S. semester credit hours per term. Should you choose to take more than one supervision per term, you will still only receive 12 U.S. semester credit hours. Credits are assigned appropriately, but do not exceed 12 U.S. semester credit hours per term.

Students studying at Pembroke for the Fall semester will receive 24 U.S. semester credit hours. They will arrive early to begin one supervision in September; then begin their second supervision when the fall term starts in October.


What are the registration conditions?
You must take a full Pembroke College course load as determined by IFSA-Butler. Credit will be awarded on a Butler University transcript based on a typical U.S. full course load. All courses are graded on an A-F scale, and there is no provision for pass/fail or auditing courses unless pass/fail is the only method of assessment for the course. You are not allowed to register for online, distance education or hybrid courses.

You should also be aware that you may be charged additional fees by your home institution or host university to take or process additional credits. Taking less than a full course load may jeopardize your student status and result in personal academic repercussions and/or loss of financial aid.

Pembroke does not have a course preference form. You will need to indicate your area of study in your statement of purpose, but you will not set up your Tripos until later.


What do I need to know about exams?
Because of the differences in the academic systems, you will not know your exam schedule until after you arrive at your host university. Please refer to your program calendar to review the exam period for your host university. Your host university's policies do not permit you to reschedule any exams, request alternate assessments or arrange to have your exams proctored in the United States. If this occurs, IFSA-Butler cannot assist you in conducting a grade appeal or academic follow-up for the course in which you made this arrangement. You will need to complete and submit all academic work prior to departing the program.


How will my home university know what my classes were and what grades I received?
After you have returned to the U.S., your home university will receive a Butler University transcript with the credit you earned at Pembroke College. The Butler University transcript will report the equivalent U.S. semester credit hours and letter grades. We also will send an official transcript to your permanent address.


Housing Options

What are my housing options?
Students will either live in-college at Pembroke College or in a different Cambridge college that is close walking distance to Pembroke College. Most spring students will be living in a college other than Pembroke.

What will my housing be like?
Even if you do not live in Pembroke College, your housing will be very similar to the housing at Pembroke. If you are placed in a different college, you may not have an Internet connection in your room. Since we do not receive housing assignments ahead of time, we cannot tell you for sure whether or not you will have an Internet connection in your room.

Your housing will be fully integrated with the degree-seeking Cambridge students. Most of the housing has single rooms. All bed linens are provided and access to e-mail and the Internet is available in most single study bedrooms. You will also have access to laundry facilities, a communal TV and game room, communal computer facilities and communal study areas.


You can prepare your own meals in a small kitchen or three meals per day are offered on a pay-per-meal basis in the Pembroke dining hall.

Housing FAQs

Is my housing included in the program fee?
Yes. Your program fee includes accommodation at the university while classes are in session. You will be responsible for the cost of your meals (whether a meal plan or self-catered) and any commuting costs you may incur. Some university housing requires students to move out during winter and spring breaks. If you wish to remain in residence during the vacation period(s), you must notify the university housing office upon arrival to make necessary arrangements. Staying in residence during university breaks may incur additional costs not covered by the IFSA-Butler program fee.

When will I receive my housing assignment?
You will most likely receive your housing assignment one to two weeks before your departure. However, in some cases you may not receive your housing assignment until you arrive in England for orientation. Your program advisor will notify you of your housing assignment via e-mail when it is released by the university.

Please keep in mind that while IFSA-Butler guarantees housing, we cannot guarantee your preferences.

Can I arrange my own housing?
Yes. IFSA-Butler recognizes that some students require independent housing for their time abroad. If you choose not to take advantage of our guaranteed housing, you may sign up for independent housing on the housing preference form. Once you've made this choice, we will not provide housing for you or bill you for the accommodation fee.

Please be advised that housing costs can be high abroad, and many times students living independently end up spending more money than students living in IFSA-Butler arranged housing. If you are hoping to save money by arranging housing on your own, please research your options early so you can compare costs. You must notify us of your intention to live in independent housing by the program application deadline for your term abroad, listed at the top of this page. We are not able to accommodate independent housing requests after the deadline.

Location Info

Living and Studying Abroad in Cambridge, England

About Cambridge

Population: 100,000
Location: One hour northeast of London

City features

  • A lively market town with wide stretches of green along the River Cam
  • Punting (boating) on the Cam, a university tradition
  • Good pubs throughout the city
  • Located in the heart of Silicon Fen, a high-technology center

Do more!

  • Soak up the Tudor atmosphere of the nearby historic town of Saffron Walden
  • Travel north to visit one of Europe's finest Gothic cathedrals at Ely
  • Go cycling or hiking in the Fens, a marsh area just to the north
  • Catch a train to Norwich, about an hour away, to visit the beautiful coastal region
  • Take a train to central London, just an hour away

Cambridge University
Visit Cambridge

Cambridgeshire Tourism
Cambridge Web Guide
Ely Online
Cambridgeshire News

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

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Important: Once you are abroad, please verify the program end date with the department(s) in which you are studying. Ending dates may vary from department to department, and you will be expected to complete all course obligations prior to your departure. Program housing is available only until the program end date.

Your program end date may change due to circumstances beyond IFSA-Butler's control. Upon arrival at your host university, be sure to verify your exam schedule and program end date. We also strongly recommend that you investigate fees and penalties associated with your airline tickets in case you need to make date or route changes.

In the United Kingdom, exams are taken under formal conditions and changes cannot be made for individuals. Exams must be taken where and when scheduled.

Program Fees

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What's included in our England program fees
Expense calculator

Spring Payment Due: November 15

Program Fee Bills
IFSA-Butler will send a single bill for tuition, services and housing. Any bills for tuition differentials and/or supplemental housing fees will be sent separately. Students who opt for independent housing will not be charged the housing component of the program fee.

The housing component of our program fee is based on the average cost of local student self-catering accommodation, usually a shared room in a regular dormitory, apartment or house without any extra features.

Personal Cost Estimates

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Expense calculator

These figures are designed to assist students with financial planning but are only estimates based on past students’ experiences at the current exchange rate. Rates are current as of 12/9/2016.

They do not include any entertainment or vacation travel costs. Meals are estimated based on the cost of a weekly standard grocery shop with one or two meals out.  If you plan to eat out once a day or more, we recommend using a higher estimate.  If you have dietary restrictions or follow a specific diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic, etc), you may also wish to budget more due to the higher cost of specialty food items.

The above numbers are general estimates of expenses during a program abroad. We recommend taking into account your current spending habits, the cost of living in your host country and the current exchange rate. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor can be helpful as you attempt to work on a personal budget for your experience abroad.

*Student Visa: U.S. citizens studying in the U.K. for less than six months (180 days) do not need to apply for a visa, but can instead enter the country as a student visitor at no cost. Student visitors are allowed to remain in the U.K. for up to six months but are not allowed to undertake any paid work or unpaid volunteer activities. Citizens of some countries may be required to obtain a student visa. If this applies to you, your IFSA-Butler program advisor will notify you. Detailed instructions regarding U.K. visas will be sent to all students upon acceptance.

Personal Miscellaneous: Covers general expenses of college life, including course supplies, photocopying, toiletries, snacks, personal care, etc.

All costs are in U.S. dollars.

Meet Your IFSA-Butler Team

IFSA-Butler has a dedicated team of staff who are here to help students prepare for their program in England.

aimeeProgram Advisor Aimee Formo is here to assist with the application process and to answer program, cultural and academic questions before departure. Aimee completed her graduate degrees in History and Library Science at Indiana University, and her undergraduate degree in History at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. She studied abroad with R-MWC’s program at the University of Reading, where she focused on 19th century social reform movements. Aimee joined the IFSA- Butler team to aid students who want to study abroad and experience all that England has to offer. Aimee can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229, ext. 4253.

altStudent Accounts Coordinator Angelita Shaffer assists with the financial side of study abroad and processes payments and invoices. Angelita can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4221.




altStudent & Parent Services Manager Donnetta Spears is available to both students and parents for travel questions and information. Donnetta has worked with IFSA-Butler since 2000, and she has traveled through parts of Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. As the mother of 4 college students (including one who studied abroad on an IFSA-Butler program), she has a deep understanding of the ins-and-outs of study abroad from a parent perspective. Donnetta can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4252.

Once abroad, our students are in the capable hands of our on-site office, including our resident directors. Click here to read more about Resident Director Andrew Williams.

altUpon return from your study abroad program, Assistant Director for Academic Affairs Rhonda Hinkle processes your Butler University transcript and assists with any academic record appeals. Rhonda completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Evansville and received her master's degree from Bowling Green State University. She also has taken doctoral courses at Ball State University. For Rhonda, study abroad not only increased her awareness of the world around her but also ignited her passion for travel and education. Rhonda can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229 ext. 4259.

Get Connected

Connect with IFSA-Butler Students

If you really want to know what it's like to study abroad, connect with IFSA-Butler alumni and students who are currently abroad on an IFSA-Butler program. Check out the following:
Student Network
Student Blogs
Experiences Abroad Videos
For Students

Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.