Studying in Ireland
Ireland's higher education institutions include universities, institutes of technology and colleges of education. There are seven main universities in Ireland:
- Dublin City University (DCU)
- National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway
- Maynooth University (National University of Ireland (NUI), Maynooth)
- Trinity College Dublin
- University College Cork (UCC)
- University College Dublin
- University of Limerick.
There are also 14 institutes of technology, including the Dublin Institute of Technology, located around Ireland and 7 colleges of education. In addition, there are a number of institutions offering specialist courses in areas such as medicine, business studies, theology, music, law and art and design. See the full list of course providers in Ireland.
The Irish higher education system works to the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) which covers ten levels of study. This includes qualifications at first degree, masters and doctorate levels. You can also take a postgraduate certificate or higher diploma, which don’t usually require an honours degree. (These qualifications can be used as a stepping stone to taking a postgraduate diploma or masters.)
What courses can you study?
Irish universities offer a wide range of subjects at postgraduate level which are comparable to those offered in the UK. Institutes of technology tend to specialise in courses in engineering, computing, science and business but also offer many other subjects. Colleges of education provide specialised training for primary school teachers. See Education in Ireland – What can I study? for a list of institutions and courses.
Course lengths are comparable to those in the UK with masters taking one to two years and PhDs taking a minimum of three years. Ireland's National Learners' Database Qualifax has a searchable database of courses.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
Each institution will have its own application process and closing dates, and individual departments will have their own course entry requirements, so do your research well in advance of applying.
You will usually apply online directly to the institution you want to study at. However, for some courses you’ll apply through the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). The PAC also processes applications for the Professional Masters in Education, the Higher Diploma in Midwifery and the Masters in Public Health Nursing.
In addition to completing the application form, you may also need to write a personal statement and provide extra information such as transcripts of your qualifications and references. Some courses, such as teaching and social work, will interview you as part of the selection process.
Each course has specific entry requirements, similar to the UK. A general guideline is at least a 2.2 honours undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. Some courses may require a 2.1 or higher, particularly the more popular ones. You’ll usually need at least a 2.1 for a PhD, especially if you’re hoping to get funding. You’ll also typically need a certain level of research experience.
English is the language of instruction in Ireland and you must be able to show a certain level of competency in it, usually through TOEFL or IELTS results. Refer to individual institutions for further information on specific entrance requirements.
Closing dates vary for different courses but are usually in the second semester. There will be exceptions to this, for example teacher training, so check with the institution you want to apply to early on.
Fees and scholarships
Fees are set each year and vary depending on the course and institution, so check with the individual institution for further details. As a guide, fees for taught postgraduate courses can range from around €4,000 to €10,000 per year. MBAs can be a lot more expensive. Research degrees can be on average more than €4,000 per year. You will also need to add living expenses, for example accommodation, travel, food and books. Fees are usually higher for non-EU citizens.
Financial support may be available from the university in the form of scholarships, bursaries and awards so it’s worth checking with institutions to see what’s available and the eligibility criteria.
Also, check whether you’re eligible for a grant via the SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) website.
Financial support may be available from the university or from an external organisation. Some research bodies award funding and scholarships for postgraduate study and research in Ireland, including the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Ireland through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.
Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from Ireland is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.
Do you need a visa to study in Ireland?
If you’re a UK, EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss national, you don’t need a visa to study in Ireland.
If you’re a non-EEA citizen, you will usually need a visa to come and study in Ireland. Applications are made online. For courses less than three months long, you should apply for a ‘C study visa’ and for courses over three months, apply for a ‘D study visa’. For more information see the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
AGCAS editors, September 2017