Postgraduate study and qualifications

Postgraduate study in teaching and education

23 Feb 2023, 16:35

To teach at primary or secondary level in Ireland, you'll probably need a postgraduate qualification to get started in your career.


How to get into primary teaching as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT)

Since the regulations changed in April 2013, applicants can now complete a primary degree at level 8 or equivalent or a postgraduate qualification at level 9 on the National Qualifications Framework.

They will also need to complete a Higher Diploma in Education Professional Master of Education (Primary Teaching), a list of recognised colleges providing approved programmes is available here .

Exact specifics of the necessary courses for Primary teaching can be found within Regulation Two of the Teaching Council regulations and within Schedule One of this

In November 2018, the Government announced changes to the postgraduate entry process for primary teaching through Maynooth University, DCU, Mary Immaculate College and the Marino Institute of Education. As of 2019, there is now only one Irish oral examination for all candidates, which takes place before they apply to their preferred institution(s). The Irish oral examination is administered by the Centre for Irish Language Research, Teaching and Testing in Maynooth University using the Teastas Eorpach Gaeilge (TEG) test, which is linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Candidates then apply to their preferred institution(s) and are called to interview by those institutions, in due course. There will be no further Irish oral examination.

How to get into post-primary teaching as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT)

In order to qualify for registration with the Teaching Council as a Post-Primary teacher, applicants will need to hold a primary degree at level 8 or qualification at level 9 on the National Qualifications Framework .

The degree must hold at least 180 credits and be at least three-years full-time. Students now must make sure that regardless of the title of their course they have undertake the modules specified by the Teaching Council in order to teach their proposed teaching subjects.

Applicants must also have a recognised qualification in post-primary education. Alternative routes into post-primary teaching are also laid out within Regulation Four of the Teaching Council regulations.

Northern Ireland

In NI, postgraduate students can undertake a relevant Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at either primary or secondary level. This is known as initial teacher training (ITT). More information is available from the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland ( ).

Other options

As well as teacher training qualifications, there are other options for postgraduate study in the field of education. In order to pursue a career in research or academia, students may undertake a masters or PhD in education. To pursue management positions, students may be interested in pursuing a masters in education and leadership or similar courses now available in many institutions.

Options are also available for candidates to further their career by completing a postgraduate qualification in career guidance, special education needs or religion and pastoral care. There are also many options for postgraduate study in areas outside of teaching. Some include human resources, educational psychology and learning technologies.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) involves teaching English to non-native speakers. The phrase TEFL refers to both the industry and to the training available. TEFL qualifications can help you gain temporary or permanent employment, whether as a way to earn money during a 'year out' or as a long-term career.

While pay is generally less than for other areas of teaching, and it can be challenging to work with people from a different culture, TEFL is an opportunity to gain qualifications, skills and experience both in Ireland and abroad. TEFL has few equals when it comes to the range and quality of qualifications available. Courses range from weekend or online 'taster' courses to masters level, depending on your needs.

The Advisory Council for English Language Schools ( ) recommends that all courses leading to recognised initial TEFL qualification awards should be no less than four weeks' duration, include a minimum of 115 hours of study, and should involve observation of teachers and the opportunity to teach students and get feedback.

When choosing a qualification you should research it well and check with some potential employers to see that the qualification is acceptable to them. As the industry becomes increasingly regulated, employers are more specific about the training they require. Some of the more recognised qualifications include CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), RELSA (Recognised English Language Schools Association) and TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language).

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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