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Third-level education in Ireland

Third-level educational institutions, third-level qualifications, how to apply for third-level education, where to apply for third-level education, postgraduate study.

A wide range of institutions in Ireland provide third-level education. The university sector, the technological sector and the colleges of education are substantially funded by the State. In addition, there are a number of independent private colleges.

The Higher Education Authority is the statutory agency responsible for the funding of universities, institutes of technology and certain other higher education institutions. It has an advisory role in relation to the whole sector of third-level education.

University sector

Most universities in Ireland are State-funded, but they are generally autonomous. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is a private university.

The universities in Ireland are:

  • The National University of Ireland (NUI) which is the umbrella university covering University College Dublin (UCD), University of Galway , University College Cork, and National University of Ireland, Maynooth .
  • The University of Dublin, which is generally known as Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
  • The University of Limerick (UL)
  • Dublin City University (DCU)
  • RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

Technological sector

The technological sector includes technological universities (TUs) and institutes of technology (ITs).

The Technological Universities Act 2018 allows institutes of technology to apply to become a new type of higher education institution with technological university status. TUs and ITs provide programmes of education and training in areas such as business, science, engineering, linguistics and music to certificate, diploma and degree levels.

There are 5 technological universities:

  • Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) – formerly Dublin, Tallaght and Blanchardstown institutes of technology
  • Munster Technological University MTU) – formerly Cork and Tralee institutes of technology
  • Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS) – formerly Limerick and Athlone institutes of technology
  • Atlantic Technological University (ATU) – formerly Galway-Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny institutes of technology. Students graduating in 2021-2022 from those institutes will graduate with university qualifications
  • South East Technological University (SETU) – formerly Carlow and Waterford institutes of technology. Students graduating in 2021-2022 from those institutes will graduate with university qualifications.

There are 2 institutes of technology:

  • Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) , Dun Laoghaire
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology

Colleges of education

Several colleges of education in Ireland provide specialised training for primary school teachers. They offer a 3-year Bachelor of Education degree and an 18-month postgraduate diploma. Post-primary teachers generally do a primary degree, followed by a postgraduate diploma. You can find more information in our document on teacher qualifications .

Other colleges

In addition to State-funded colleges, a number of fee-paying third-level educational institutions offer courses, mainly in professional vocational training and business. Some of these colleges are linked to universities or professional associations and their qualifications may be accredited accordingly – see below.

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a system of 10 levels which allows the different standards and levels qualifications to be compared. A diagram of the NFQ is on the website of the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). Third-level qualifications are Levels 6-10 in the Framework.

Award of qualifications

In the university sector the awarding bodies are the National University of Ireland (UCD, UCC, UG and Maynooth), Dublin University, Dublin City University, the University of Limerick, and the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Technological universities (TUs) make their own awards. Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is the awarding body for third-level educational institutions outside the university sector. QQI is also the awarding body for further education and training. It also awards Higher Certificates (NFQ Level 6). More detailed information is in our document on further and higher education qualifications.

Universities: The State-supported universities all award their own degrees and other awards. University students qualify with Ordinary Bachelors degrees (NFQ Level 7) or Honours Bachelors degrees (NFQ Level 8). Universities also offer Masters (NFQ Level 9) and Doctoral (NFQ Level 10) postgraduate degrees.

Technological sector: Technological universities (TUs) make their own awards. Institutes of technology (ITs) grant degrees, diplomas and certificates, which are validated by QQI. Students of TUs and ITs generally qualify with Higher Certificates (NFQ Level 6) or Ordinary Bachelors degrees (NFQ Level 7). Honours Bachelors degrees (NFQ Level 8), Postgraduate Diplomas (NFQ Level 9) and Higher Doctorate (NFQ Level 10) are also available.

Other colleges: The other State-supported colleges generally grant awards that are validated by QQI. The private colleges make awards, some of which are validated by foreign universities and some of which are validated by QQI. Some of their awards are not validated by any outside body.

Progression is a feature of the National Framework of Qualifications. Often a Level 6 certificate awarded by QQI can offer the opportunity to continue on to a NFQ Level 7 or Level 8 degree. The Higher Education Links Scheme allows those with a QQI Level 5 and Level 6 (NFQ) qualification to progress to higher education. You can get more information on the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) website.

If you are thinking of going to college you can search the Qualifax website for details of courses. Generally, applications for undergraduate courses in Ireland are made through the Central Applications Office (CAO). You can find more information in our documents on application procedures and entry requirements , third-level fees and tax relief for third-level fees. See below for information about postgraduate study.

If you think you might qualify for a grant, you will find information on maintenance grant schemes for students on third-level courses and grants and funds available for mature students .

You can find contact details for third-level education institutions on the CAO website

You need to consider what kind of postgraduate study you wish to do, what are the most suitable courses for you and your career and what costs are involved. Postgraduate study can be a taught course or based on research and generally falls into one of the following categories:

  • Postgraduate diploma: Often this is a vocational course, linked to professions such as teaching or librarianship. The subject may be different from the primary degree.
  • Masters degree: This can be a taught course or based on research. It lasts 1-2 years and usually involves course work and a thesis.
  • PhD: This is a doctorate awarded for a thesis based on research. It takes at least 3 years' study and it must be an original contribution to knowledge.

Funding postgraduate study

In general, you will have to pay fees for postgraduate courses. You may be able to get tax relief on the fees. If you got a third-level grant for your undergraduate course, you may qualify for a grant for postgraduate study in Ireland, including Northern Ireland.

There are different sources of funding for postgraduate students. Sometimes financial support is available from the university that is running the postgraduate course; sometimes you need to apply to an external body. A number of research bodies provide funding for postgraduate research in Ireland, including the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.

A number of scholarships and fellowships for study abroad are awarded annually by foreign governments to Irish students who are engaged in, or have completed, a course of third-level education. You can find information about opportunities for postgraduate study abroad on the Department of Further and Higher Education website and on the European University Institute website. If you wish to study in the UK there is a graduate website for the UK called Prospects .

Applying for postgraduate courses

For postgraduate courses you generally apply directly to the university or college. You can find information about postgraduate courses and applications from the careers office in your college or university. If you are applying for postgraduate courses in the UK you may apply online to certain universities and colleges.

Related documents

  • Moving to Ireland for third-level education Third level educational system in Ireland and the way in which places at universities and colleges are allocated. 2599.714
  • Tax relief for third-level fees Tax relief is available in respect of tuition fees paid in private third-level institutions, in institutions abroad and by repeat students and part-time students. The Student Contribution may also qualify for relief. 1720.6803
  • Third-level courses for mature students This document describes the different full-time and part-time educational options available to adults at third level. 1556.6852

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masters degree level ireland

Post Graduate Courses That Award: Masters Degree

On the spectrum of courses on the in the National Framework of Qualifications, the Masters Degree is Level 9. There are presently two types of Masters Degrees awarded in Ireland; the taught Masters Degree can be achieved by students after they finish a one- or two-year course. Entry to a course which leads to a taught Masters is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees, yet holders of Ordinary Bachelor Degrees can be accepted in some cases. On top of this, there is also the option of a Research Masters Degree, which can last for two years on average. Students can study for a Masters Degree at Institutes of Technology, with Quality and Qualifications Ireland, and at Universities.

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Business Administration MBA

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The MBA course will provide you with a strong theoretical foundation in the broader disciplines of management as well as focusing on the practical application of theory in real-world settings and cases. You will be exposed to the latest thinking in the core disciplines of enterprise, leadership, management organisation, people management, strategy, management of financial…

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Business & Humanities - Research

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Teaching and research in Chinese Studies at Maynooth University is focused on culture, society, history and literature rather than on business and commerce. Research includes the role of sport in the making of modern China and modern Ireland, Chinese Cinema and national identity and how Western thinking reshaped traditional Chinese knowledge. The MA in Chinese…

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Types of Degrees in Ireland

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  • NFQ Level 7 = Ordinary Bachelor Degree (3 years duration)
  • NFQ Level 8 = Honours Bachelor Degree (3-4 years duration)
  • NFQ Level 8 = Higher Diploma (1 year duration)
  • NFQ Level 9 = Postgraduate Diploma (1 year duration)
  • NFQ Level 9 = Masters Degree (1-2 years duration)
  • NFQ Level 10 = Doctoral Degree (approximately 4 years duration)

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  • Study in Ireland: Top Universities, Scholarships, Fees, Intake

Education system in Ireland

Know how the irish education system works.

Academic excellence, internationally-recognised qualifications, vibrant campus life, abundant growth in research, and immense employment opportunities, education in Ireland will offer you all.

Study levels in Ireland

The Irish education system is quite similar to that of the UK which in itself explains the quality it provides to its students. Education in Ireland is mainly categorised in four levels.

  • Primary education including pre-primary
  • Post primary education
  • Further education and training
  • Higher education

National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)

The NFQ specifies the standards of Irish education qualifications. It measure and compares the learning standards and achievements of qualifications and also facilitates the transfer between institutions i.e. it allows students to move from one study level to another as long as their student visa requirements are fulfilled. Since the qualifications under NFQ correspond with that of European Qualification Framework, your degree is recognised and accepted globally.

Note that the both Irish universities, Institutes of Technology and HECA private colleges provide third-level qualifications on the NFQ.

Fee structure Ireland is a great place to enjoy a world-class education, quality of life and colourful confluence of culture. While the tuition fee in Ireland is reasonable, it is best to plan well to manager your expenses well. Tuition fees for international students vary according to the type and duration of the course. Each university in Ireland sets its own tuition fees, depending on subject and level of study. The average degree costs between €10,000 and €25,000 a year.

Teaching and learning style Universities and colleges in Ireland provide an interactive and innovative learning approach wherein you’ll be engaging with your classmates and your instructor alike while understanding the topic/concept of discussion. Irish system reaches out to support international students, both in the classroom and outside of it.

You’ll be expected to do a lot of independent learning which can include working on assignments, reading a lot of academic lists and making notes during your lectures. In addition to lectures, tutorials are also conducted to helps students understand the concepts in a better manner. The classroom size is smaller than India and English is the medium of instruction. As an Indian student, you may take some time to get used to the Irish accent but once you do, you’ll know why it is called the most charming accent of the world.

Higher (or third-level) education The higher education comprises universities, colleges, and institutes of technology, most of which are Irish government funded. Ireland has a total of 7 universities, 7 colleges of education, 15 private higher education institutions and 14 Institutes of Technology (IoT). There a few additional third-level private institutions in Ireland that offer specialised education in disciplines like business studies, art and design, law, medicine, etc.

Higher education can entail degree and non-degree programs.

Non-degree programs

Degree programs

Pathway programs There are also many pathway programs to higher education for international students including foundation studies mostly in business, social sciences, engineering or pure/applied sciences. Irish universities have arranges with private pathway providers that helps students receive the extra support and assistance they need to succeed. Indian students aiming for masters can also apply to pre-master pathway programs if they’re unable to fulfil the requirements for direct entry.

Academic year Higher education is usually divided into two semesters.

After graduation As per the revised Third Level Graduate Scheme Permission, the Irish Government offers the opportunity to students who have graduated from Irish institutions to stay in Ireland for up to 24 months for employment.

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Student visa requirements for Ireland

The Irish Government provides an opportunity to all Indian students to study in the country but as a prerequisite, you’ll have to obtain a student visa first. The visa you need will depend on your age, the type of study you want to pursue, and how long you want to stay in Ireland.

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Masters Degree

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There are two types of Masters Degree in Ireland: taught and research Masters Degrees. Entry to a Masters programme is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees.

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There are two types of Masters Degree in Ireland: taught Masters Degrees and research Masters Degrees. The taught Masters Degree is awarded following the completion of a programme of one to two years duration (60-120 ECTS credits). Research Masters Degree programmes are typically of two years duration (120 ECTS credits) though not all such programmes are credit rated.

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Contact Schools Directly - Compare 146 Master Degrees in Ireland 2024

146 Master Programs in Ireland 2024

A Master in Ireland is a top choice for many international students. Ireland has a rich history and can offer some of the best universities in the world. Ireland is a country where traditions, religion and history play a big role in everyday life as well as in the nation’s self-perception. Ireland is also a home to some of the finest higher education institutions. It stands on the 8th place in the world for the number of universities in the list of Top 500 universities. If you choose to spend your time earning a Master in Ireland in the exciting Irish cities, you will be able to choose from a great variety of universities, colleges and business schools. Higher education institutions in Ireland offer a broad selection of Master in Ireland programs, including MBAs and other Business orientated master studies, Humanitarian and Arts master programs, Technology programs and many more. Don’t miss the chance of experiencing Ireland and everything it has to offer! Click on the links below to find out about the specific Master in Ireland program, or narrow the search according to your field of interests using the search boxes above. Your future Master in Ireland may be just a few clicks away!

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European Master in Sustainable Energy System Management

European master in renewable energy and european master in sustainable energy system management.

European Master in Renewable Energy and European Master in Sustainable Energy System Management

  • Groningen, Netherlands
  • Limerick, Ireland

3 semesters

The European Master in Sustainable Energy System Management is an initiative proposed and developed by the association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC) and a consortium of Universities outlined in the Partnering Universities section.

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European Master in the Psychology of Global Mobility, Inclusion and Diversity in Society (Global-MINDS)

University of limerick.

University of Limerick

Global-MINDS is a comprehensive 2-year study programme focusing on diversity and inclusion, global mobility and acculturation, and culture and organizations

Europubhealth+ European Public Health Master



  • Rennes, France
  • Granada, Spain

English, Spanish, French

The Europubhealth+ programme is an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree that has been recognized as a Master of excellence by the European Commission since 2006. Seven renowned European universities are collaborating to deliver the Europubhealth+ Master’s course. The programme now enjoys a vibrant international network of public health professionals and academics, and more than 435 graduates of 86 different nationalities.

LLM Intellectual Property & Information Technology

University college dublin.

University College Dublin

  • Dublin, Ireland

Full time, Part time

By combining information technology and intellectual property law together, this programme offers a deeper understanding of the interrelationship between these two topics which have emerged as significant areas in the future development of law. The School has established links with the UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics to promote greater understanding in the information technology area.

MA Journalism and International Affairs

The CNN Academy UCD Clinton Institute MA in Journalism and International Affairs is a one-year programme that combines practical training in audio, video, digital, and social storytelling with academic expertise in international affairs.

MA Writing for Stage & Screen

The Writing for Stage and Screen MA offers you the opportunity to devote a considerable amount of time to write, evolve and reflect on your own creative practices. Today like never before, writers are moving between different media forms and this programme allows you to develop work across diverse platforms. Graduates of the MA in Writing for Stage and Screen are equipped to work in theatre, media, cultural and educational settings, and to further their research into theatre and screen.

MA in Applied Linguistics

Mary immaculate college.

Mary Immaculate College

Distance Learning, On-Campus

The course is offered with three options for delivery; on campus, blended or fully online. The course is aimed at experienced English Language Teachers and other English language professionals.

MA in Dispute Resolution

Independent college.

Independent College

The MA is a unique and innovative interdisciplinary programme that provides students with the academic knowledge and practical skills to resolve disputes between parties in a non-adversarial manner. Upon successful completion of the MA, students receive both a QQI Level 9 academic qualification. Dispute resolution is one of the fastest-growing fields and academic disciplines both in Ireland and internationally, offering professional opportunities in the corporate, legal, educational, political, HR, health, and community settings, as well as many others.

MAgrSc Agricultural Extension and Innovation

The MSc Agricultural Extension and Innovation is a one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme based in UCD and is focused on meeting the needs of those who are interested in developing careers in advisory, consultancy or education services in the public, private or non-governmental sector. This MSc will equip graduates with the skills and knowledge to understand more about the processes of learning that underpin change and development and to be effective in building the capacity of farmers to adopt new practices and technologies.

MEng in Information and Network Security

This MEng provides in-depth knowledge of emerging security threats and solutions for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems. Equips students with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to identify, develop and implement highly secure systems and networks that serve enterprise goals.

MEng in Mechatronics

The M.Eng in Mechatronics is a one year, full-time programme and the mode of operation is based on the modular system. It consists of a taught component extending over two semesters, with a Mechatronics project taken over the third semester.

MEngSc Chemical Engineering

The Chemical Engineering industry in Ireland is one of its strongest exporting sectors and is representative of the chemical process industries worldwide. The MEngSc in Chemical Engineering offers advanced level education for students with primary degrees in chemical engineering/technology programmes. In this programme, you will improve your conceptual and practical skills in both the fundamental and applied principles of chemical engineering practice.

MEngSc Electrical Power Networks

The modern power system is in the midst of a radical change as it transitions to the use of increased variable renewable generation, deals growing demands for electrification of transport and heating and the integration of new smart grid control approaches. This 1 year MEngSc in Electrical Power Networks is specifically designed to give you a fundamental understanding of the design and operation of electrical power networks in the context of the transition to a more sustainable energy system.

MEngSc Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering is an interdisciplinary field investigating the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. Materials Scientists and Engineers are at the center of virtually every area of technology from optoelectronics to space materials and from automotive and automotive manufacturing to biomedical devices.

MEngSc Water, Waste and Environmental Engineering

This programme prepares graduates to work in the broad field of environmental protection and management. Students in this programme will gain advanced theoretical and conceptual knowledge and understanding in the area of environmental engineering on topics such as engineering hydrology, environmental modelling, water and wastewater treatment, solid waste management, and environmental data analysis, among others.

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  1. National Framework of Qualifications

    masters degree level ireland


    masters degree level ireland

  3. Study Masters in Ireland

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  4. Top 5 Universities In Ireland For Masters

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  5. Masters Degrees

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  6. Explore the Best Ireland Universities for Masters

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    Each university in Ireland sets its own tuition fees, depending on subject and level of study. The average degree costs between €10,000 and €25,000 a year.

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