Entry requirements and deadlines for postgraduate courses

14 Jul 2023, 10:58

Most, but not all, postgraduate applications are now centralised through the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). But you should always check with each individual institution in relation to criteria and closing dates, and departments will have specific entry requirements for each postgraduate course.

Students attending a college lecture

What are the typical entry requirements?

An honours undergraduate degree (2.2 or above) is the typical academic requirement for entry into most taught postgraduate programmes. Some courses require a 2.1, and this will increase your chances of gaining entry into the more popular courses. You will need at least a 2.1 for a postgraduate research qualification, particularly if you wish to obtain funding. Postgraduate certificates and higher diplomas in Ireland usually do not require an honours degree and can serve as a stepping stone to a postgraduate diploma or master’s qualification later on, depending on the discipline. Academic results are not the only decisive factor: relevant work experience, personal qualities and interview performance are some of the other measures that may be used, and can often compensate for below-average academic results.

What’s the normal application process for postgraduate courses?

Before applying for any course, you should research it thoroughly to ensure it matches your interests and career objectives, and that you’re eligible to apply. Contact the relevant course co-ordinator with any questions or concerns. Then go ahead and submit a written application. Almost all, if not all, applications are now processed online, through the Postgraduate Applications Centre, now also known as Processing Applications in the Cloud ( which also processes applications for the Professional Master’s in Education (previously known as the Professional Diploma in Education), the Higher Diploma in Midwifery and the Master’s in Public Health Nursing and others. As well as completing an application form, you may also be asked to write a personal statement and to provide supplementary information such as academic transcripts or written references. Take care to clarify the requirements of any application as well as the closing dates. Some courses interview candidates as part of their selection procedure, for careers requiring an advanced degree of interpersonal skill, such as teaching or social work.

What about research students?

The first step towards applying for a postgraduate research programme is to consult with your prospective supervisor or the head of your chosen academic department. You should prepare for this meeting by generating an outline proposal to form the basis of your discussion. Your proposal must be supported by the department before it can be forwarded to the relevant academic bodies for consideration. The department will also be able to advise you on funding opportunities, more information is also available on The timetable for applications will vary between colleges so familiarise yourself with the relevant closing dates as soon as possible.

What about international students?

If you are an international student considering postgraduate study in Ireland, you should start planning at a very early stage – really in the first semester of your final year. There are likely to be a number of additional steps in the application process and other factors to consider. Will you need to extend your visa? Do you satisfy the eligibility criteria for your chosen programme? What international scholarships are available? The sooner you pin down the answers to these questions, the better. Non-EU applicants usually pay higher fees for taught programmes. However, they are eligible for funding through many postgraduate research programmes, particularly in the areas of science, engineering and technology. You can find more useful information via the Irish Association for International Students,

When do the deadlines close for most courses?

The closing dates for postgraduate courses are usually in the second semester of the academic year. There are some exceptions, such as teaching, which used to close in the first semester, but that changed during the pandemic. So, applications for that open in October 2023. Keep an eye on for deadlines. Courses with lengthy selection processes (such as social work, clinical psychology, dietetics and the therapies) will usually have earlier deadlines as well. Generally speaking, there is often some degree of flexibility regarding late applications, but don’t bank on it. If you have missed a deadline, it is always worth contacting the course co-ordinator to enquire. They just might be able to accommodate you.

Dealing with the dreaded personal statement

You may be asked to write a personal statement (or ‘statement of purpose’) in support of your application, particularly if you are applying for business courses such as MBAs. Although it’s often regarded as a chore, the personal statement is a great opportunity to convey a sense of who you are and your motivation for applying, so make the most of it. If your statement is fresh, lively and different, you’ll be putting yourself ahead of the crowd. Pay attention to presentation: type the statement if your handwriting is poor. Read and re-read your statement very carefully, and spell- and grammar-check it. Get your final draft checked by friends, academics or a careers adviser. Some courses also interview candidates as part of their selection process, especially for careers that demand high levels of interpersonal skill, such as teaching or social work. Remember, top-notch qualifications are obviously important but they’re not the only factors: relevant work experience, personal qualities and interview performance are also key considerations, and can sometimes compensate for less-than-perfect academic credentials.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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