Leadership in Early Years Education & Care

Early Years Education and Care is a rapidly growing area in Ireland. This course is designed to facilitate and prepare students and current practitioners or those with an interest in early childhood education for leadership and management roles in the operation of early childhood education services and related public policy. It is also suitable for those interested in advisory, mentoring and inspection roles within the sector.

This MA course will develop the learner's ability to analyse, manage and creatively respond to critical issues and changes in early childhood care policy and service implementation, all the time being cognisant of the best interests of the child.

Exit Award - Yes.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements are a Level 8 degree, with a minimum of Second Class Honours, Grade 2 or equivalent in the following areas:

• Early Childhood Education & Care/ Studies
• Montessori Education
• Education (Primary)
• Speech and Language Therapy
• or other relevant/equivalent Level 8 awards.

Candidates with significant relevant work experience (as determined by IT Carlow's Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) policy), in addition to an honours primary degree in another discipline area may also be considered for entry. Applicants must be able to clearly demonstrate and show evidence of their experience working within the sector.

Applicants applying for entry via routes other than those listed above will be considered on a case-by-case basisand in accordance with IT Carlow's Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) policy. Please note that all RPL applicants will be subject to interview.

All Non-EU applicants should refer to the international section of the IT Carlow website for further information.


1 Year Full-time, 2 Years Part-time.

Careers or further progression

Study & Career Opportunities
Graduates of the programme may progress to a PhD programme of study in the discipline areas, in Ireland or abroad. Graduates of the programme may also be eligible to progress to a professional doctorate in the field of Leadership in Early Years Education and Care.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts in Leadership in Early Years Education and Care is an embedded exit award (Level 9 - 60 credits).

This is an ideal postgraduate programme for students or current practitioners within the early childhood education sector who are interested in becoming administrators, directors or managers of early childhood education and care settings. It is also suitable for those interested in advisory, mentoring and inspection roles within the sector.

The level of qualification of early years practitioners has been acknowledged as an important contributor to and indicator of quality service provision (Sylva et al., 2010). Currently 1% of practitioners working in the sector in Ireland hold a Masters or PhD qualification. (Cahalan et al., 2016 pp 79 -80). The EU CORE Report Competence Requirements in Early Childhood Education and Care (2011) sets out an EU benchmark of at least 60% of those working in this area who "should be graduates", "including equally those working with under-3s and those working with over-3s." A competent quality based systems calls for competent practitioners, which requires "a qualified workforce at all levels, which includes trainers, managers and inspectors."

Further enquiries

Full-time applicants may contact:
Mary Beare Aust BEd (CNAA), MA (Ed) (Open), Adv Mont Dip (MSN)
Programme Director
P: 059 917 5300


Dr Eileen Doyle-Walsh BA, MLitt, PhD
Head of Department – Humanities
P: 059 917 5347

Part-time applicants may contact:
Faculty of Lifelong Learning
P: 059 917 5280

International (Non-EU) applicants may contact:
P: 00353-59-9175205

Subjects taught

What subjects will I study?
Contemporary Issues in Early Years
Policy, Theory and Practice
Leading Quality in Early Years Education and Care
Leadership, Strategy and Governance
Research Methods and Dissertation
Transformative Children's Rights
Educational Psychology
Early Years Entrepreneurship and Innovation


Postgraduate Opportunities - Institute of Technology Carlow. Institute of Technology Carlow has a range of high-quality courses that offer suitably qualified primary degree holders (NFQ Level 8) exciting opportunities to progress to higher awards (Masters and Doctoral degrees). These opportunities are by research and thesis or taught courses, with many available on a full-time or part-time basis across our three campuses in Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford.

Higher Degrees by research are normally obtained by undertaking a research project, guided by an experienced supervisor. The average duration of a research Masters degree (NFQ Level 9) is 2 years full-time study. A PhD (NFQ Level 10) should take from 3 to 4 years (full-time) to complete.

Taught courses are available at three levels: Higher Diploma (NFQ Level 8); Postgraduate Diploma - NFQ Level 9 (60 credits); and Masters - NFQ Level 9 (90 credits). Individual full-time postgraduate courses are described in the forthcoming sections. Details of part-time taught courses are available in the Lifelong Learning prospectus.

Research Masters and Doctoral Degrees
Institute of Technology Carlow offers postgraduate research supervision for both Research Masters and Doctoral Degree candidates (NFQ Levels 9 and 10). Research supervision is closely tied to the priorities and expertise of staff attached to specialist research centres at Institute of Technology Carlow. Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) is an integral part of Institute of Technology Carlow's activities and a vital aspect of its interaction with industry and other research centres, both nationally and internationally.

Application date

How to apply
1. Research & choose your course from our wide range of postgraduate offerings on our website or in our prospectus.

2. Check out all of the relevant entry requirements, course code and closing dates, taking time to read IT Carlows FAQs and application instructions on the Admissions section of the website.

3. Get started on your postgraduate journey at IT Carlow!

For admissions queries from Irish or European applicants, please email:

All Non-EU international applicants may refer to the International section of the website for further details or email:

Course fee

This course is not eligible for Free Fees. Programme Fees 2017/18 €7,400. Fees under review for 2018/19.

Enrolment and start dates

Postgraduate application procedure
Postgraduate applicants should refer to the Study/Postgraduate section of the website for more information:

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!