Education & Lifelong Learning - Research

The UCD Structured PhD in Education is one of the most challenging, rewarding and exciting graduate programmes in Education. It has an international reputation, and graduates are currently employed as academics in leading universities, as teachers, as school principals, and as education policy makers and innovators in the public and private sector.

On the programme, students must complete a substantial thesis of typically around 80,000 words, detailing an original research study that has made a significant contribution to knowledge. The structured component is thirty credits of taught modules including at least one research methods module. The other two modules may be any graduate level modules of choice offered at the School of Education or more broadly within the College of Social Sciences and Law.

The PhD in Education can be carried out full time over three years or part time over five years. The production of a written thesis of around 80,000 words detailing the student's original research study and how it has made a significant contribution to knowledge, remains the core objective of the PhD. Typically, the thesis will consist of, or lead directly to, peer reviewed publications in academic journals or a published monograph.

A large range of supports are also available within UCD, for all graduate researchers. These include library study pods, training in many aspects of research and research management, and superb library facilities. UCD also has a state-of-the-art leisure centre with an Olympic swimming pool, a cinema, theatre, and a medical centre.

In addition, our students are supported in writing applications for grants and scholarships, and we have a very high level of success in attracting student awards from the Irish Research Council, and the National University of Ireland. Our students present their research at the All-Ireland doctoral conference, hosted annually by UCD and QUB, and they also present at international conferences. Many of our research students have won places on prestigious graduate summer schools.

Offering the gold standard in graduate education, UCD doctoral degrees are highly regarded all over the world. We welcome applications from all areas of educational research, and applicants of all nationalities.

Application dates

Closing date of Entry
September and January annually

Application process

Please apply online using the electronic system available here:

Once you have applied online, please email the Director of Doctoral Research [] to state your application has been made online.

If you would like to use our guidelines for writing a PhD proposal you can find them below. However, proposals that are not an exact match to the guidelines are also welcomed. PhD proposal template

Your application will be evaluated using the following criteria:

High honours in an appropriate master's degree (or equivalent) and/or evidence of other academic standing and/or relevant professional experience that demonstrates suitability for PhD study.

Evidence of meeting the School's English language requirements for PhD study. These are: IELTS of 7 total score, with no band below 6.5, or alternatively a masters' degree graded at 2:1 or above, written in English and obtained from an English speaking institution in an English speaking country, within the past 3-years from date of application.

Research proposal in topic area of interest to the School of Education. If your application meets our criteria, we will also require that you have an agreed Faculty member (an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor) at the UCD School of Education to supervise you.

If a Faculty member has formally agreed to supervise you (we may require email documentation), please state this in your application. If you do not have a supervisor before applying, we will attempt to match you to one after receiving your online application. Please note that it is optional for Faculty members to supervise PhD students.

Applicants who meet our admissions criteria and who have an agreed supervisor will be recommended for admission to the PhD programme.

Assessment Info

The award of PhD is conferred on successful completion of the doctoral research thesis. Taught components of the programme draw on a range of assessment methods that are matched to the learning outcomes of each module


3-4 years Full-time / 6 years Part-time

Enrolment dates

Start date: To be agreed with School


Sample Modules:
• Advanced quantitative research methods
• Advanced qualitative research methods
• Educational philosophy
• Social justice, inclusion and diversity in education
• Social history of education
• Well-being and mental health of children and youth

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral (Level 10 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider