Postgraduate study in teaching and education

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

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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. Prior to this change, to apply under the post-graduate entry route to initial teacher education for primary teaching (the Primary Professional Master of Education qualification) in these colleges, candidates, who have already satisfied the Minimum Entry Requirements in Irish, English and Maths, had to do three separate Irish oral examinations. Each oral examination would have taken place on the same day as an interview at the institution concerned. A fail in the Irish oral examination would result in the interview result being discounted, adding considerably to the stress on candidates.

From 2019, there will be one Irish oral examination for all candidates, which will take place before they apply to their preferred institution(s). The Irish oral examination will be 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. The Irish oral will be held in February 2019, at venues throughout the country.

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

The institutions have advised that the oral Irish examination will cost €65 per candidate. However, arrangements may be made for students who enter via alternative routes to have this fee refunded.

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. The list of recognised courses no longer applies – 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. These can be viewed here .

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) is where adults or children are taught English when it is not their first language. 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).


All courses in ROI are fee paying. Students accepted onto courses are eligible to apply for local authority grants (subject to means testing).

Training bursaries or other financial incentives are not available for teacher training in Northern Ireland. Students on courses of initial teacher training (ITT) will be charged tuition fees but are eligible for a non means-tested loan for fees. Additional support may also be available; further details can be found on the Student Finance NI site ( ) or on the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland ( ).

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