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The basics
Ireland: Applying to University - Must read

Applying to study in Ireland

Our breakdown of the application process to study abroad in Ireland

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Ireland’s ever-emerging educational sector has seen increased admissions of international students. With a number of globally regarded universities, flexible study options and a free undergraduate tuition scheme for EU students, it’s easy to see why. Applying to study abroad can be an overwhelming and complicated process, but provided you tackle it step-by-step you’ll find that it’s quite straightforward. Let our breakdown of the application process to study abroad in Ireland help get your planning process in motion.



Students are advised to begin researching prospective study programmes at least one academic year before their proposed study abroad start date. Online handbooks that detail credit requirements for study programmes are usually retrievable on university websites, and students should be sure to confirm directly with both the host and home institutions that they will be correctly credited for the subjects they plan to undertake.


Almost all Irish universities have an international or admissions office that provides student resources to aid in the admissions process. Students are advised to consult university websites for contact details and to download university prospectuses where possible.


Intake and Deadlines

EU students applying to study at an undergraduate level in Ireland should apply through the Central Application Office (CAO). The closing date for applications to the CAO is around the start of February, but students may submit applications up until the beginning of May provided they pay a late fee.  The CAO will process your application before passing on the data to the relevant institution, where a final decision will be made regarding your application status. Students may receive an applications pack from the CAO that contains details of all courses on offer and specific details on how to apply.


Non-EU students applying for undergraduate study are generally required to apply directly to the host institution. Each university has either an international or admissions office that students should pursue on institution websites, but for example, application deadlines for a start in September (semester one) at Trinity College Dublin is March 1, and September 30 for mid-year intake.


Regardless of nationality, all postgraduate students should apply directly to the graduate studies office at their host institution. Non-EU students applying to study at an Irish Higher Education Institution can also apply through the Postgraduate Application Centre (PAC) website. If their host institution is not listed on the PAC website, non-EU students should apply directly to the institution. Specific application deadlines vary greatly between institutions and areas of study, and are retrievable via university websites.


Click here to find out if you are an EU student


Click here for a list of Irish Higher Education Institutions


What documents will I need?

Entry into Irish tertiary programmes is first and foremost academically weighted, and academic requirements vary from year to year depending on demand. Students must meet specific programme and faculty requirements as set out by each institution, and advised to confirm admission criteria with their host institution directly.


Students for whom English is their second language will be required to prove their English language proficiency, either through their previous academic qualifications or via their TOEFL or IELTs score. Students will need at least 220 on the computer-based TOEFL test and 550 on the paper-based test to be accepted into a study programme, and a minimum composite score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in any one component in the IELTs exam. Those applying for programmes in Medicine will also need to complete the HPAT assessment test.


After you have received your official offer from the host institution, you should apply for an Irish student visa.


Learn more about Irish student visas



EU students should apply for undergraduate study through the Central Applications Office (CAO), whilst non-EU students should apply directly to a university through their website (you can click through to their site from their profile here on Hotcourses Abroad). All applications for postgraduate study programmes should be lodged directly with the institution. You can also apply through our free i-Apply service.


Application Tips

Admission dates and specific credit requirements vary quite substantially across different institutions and study areas in Ireland, so students should be sure to check they meet every single requirement as set out by the university prospectus. The CAO has a number of student resources that outline exactly what is required in each case.


Strong applications stand out from the outset, so it’s important you leave enough time before the deadline to complete your application to the highest possible standard. Irish academic culture is modelled on that of the British, and so favours decisive, no-frills prose that exposes depth of thought. Students should be sure to outline their enthusiasm and understanding of the subject, both in what they already know and what they hope to learn at the institution they’re applying to. Remember: you’re trying to convince professors that you want to study subjects they’ve dedicated their careers to, so you’ll need to prove you’re serious.


Now that the application process seems less scary, why not browse courses in Ireland now and start planning your study abroad adventure?


Useful Links:

The Irish higher education system...simplified

Applying for an Irish student visa