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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.

For most teaching jobs in the Republic and Northern Ireland, you will need to have a teaching qualification; this normally means undertaking a postgraduate conversion course. Competition for permanent positions is strong and newly qualified teachers generally take substitute and temporary positions to build up experience.

For primary level teaching in the Republic of Ireland, you will need a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a postgraduate teaching qualification (eg Graduate Diploma in Education).

For second-level teaching, you will need a postgraduate diploma in Education (previously known as the Higher Diploma in Education).

The options

Teacher training in the Republic of Ireland

For second-level teaching, the Professional Masters in Education (PME) is offered on a full-time basis at Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, Hibernia College, NUI Galway and Maynooth University. 

While applications for the PME at the other colleges listed above are now available via

The Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary Teaching) is on offer at four institutions. You can only apply to one application centre, either Dublin or Limerick.

Teacher training in Northern Ireland

The postgraduate Certificate in Education is offered at several institutions. To apply you should contact the admissions office of each individual institution.

Conversion courses

Republic of Ireland

You will need a Postgraduate qualifications to qualify for second-level teaching. Before applying, you need to ensure you have a suitable teaching subject as a major component of your undergraduate degree. It's recommended that you apply directly to The Teaching Council (

For primary level you will need to complete the 18-month Graduate Diploma in Education.

If you obtain a teaching qualification outside Ireland in another EEA member state, from January 2011 you'll need to complete any required period of post-qualification professional practice (eg NQT or induction year) in that member state before registering with the Teaching Council.

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. The recommendations in Northern Ireland from Quality in Tesol Education ( are very similar.

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 (