Entry requirements and deadlines for postgraduate courses
What are the typical entry requirements?
An honours 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 attract 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 masters qualification later on.
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 is the usual application process?
Before applying for any course, you should research it thoroughly to ensure it matches your interests and career objectives. Contact the relevant course co-ordinator with any questions or concerns. Then go ahead and submit a written application.
Many applications are now processed online. While some applications go directly to the institution, most postgraduate applications to Irish colleges are now made online through the Postgraduate Applications Centre (www.pac.ie) which also processes applications for the Professional Masters in Education (previously known as the Professional Diploma in Education), the Higher Diploma in Midwifery and the Masters in Public Health Nursing.
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, especially 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. 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.
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, for example the deadline for postgraduate teacher training in Ireland and the UK is always in the first semester. 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 a degree of flexibility regarding late applications. 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.
Euraxess Ireland: Researchers' Mobility Portal Ireland
European Commission Euraxess: Research site
Higher Education Authority: lists all third-level institutions
Discover Science & Engineering: Science and Engineering Initiative