Postgraduate Study

Why post-Graduate Education?

You can opt to pursue postgraduate education for different reasons:

  • Progression – Most postgraduate courses are taken to develop a student’s knowledge in an area they studied at postgrad, often this well take the form of specialising in a topic they particularly enjoy or is in demand in the job market.
  • Conversion –Many graduates opt to do postgrad conversion courses in a completely different field to what they’ve previously studied. This can help them develop skills and knowledge currently in demand in the jobs market.
  • Professional – Some professions such as medicine, accountancy or architecture have strict education requirements. This means people looking to enter the career, whether as a direct progression from undergraduate or converting from another field, may need to take a professional postgraduate course.

Being 'job ready' is hugely attractive to employers so an advanced degree can help you become more employable and earn a higher salary. This applies whether you are an undergraduate planning your life after graduation or someone who has embarked on a career and is looking to take the next step.

Graduate-level skills are now vital in many public and private sector organisations. To meet this need Irish universities have added a wider range of masters courses, offering graduates a path to developing skills demanded by the modern economy.

Levels of Study

  1. Postgraduate Diploma
  2. Taught/Research Masters
  3. Doctorate (PhD)
  4. Professional Postgrad Programmes

1. Postgraduate Diploma

Postgraduate Diploma’s generally take one year to complete, similar to master’s degrees. They are usually open to holders of bachelor’s degrees, an honours degree will be required for some. The big difference to a masters is that a postgraduate diploma will generally not include a thesis and will instead include additional coursework or shorter research projects.

They are often conversion courses, but students include many people who are looking expand skills and knowledge relevant to their current profession so they can move their career onto it’s next step.

2. Master's Degree

A Master’s Degree represents the step beyond a bachelor degree, where the student start to develop real specialisation and depth of knowledge. There are two types of master's degree in Ireland, taught and research.

A Taught Master's is awarded following the completion of a programme of one years full time attendance or two years part time attendance. Entry is typically for holders of Honours Bachelor Degrees, less often an Ordinary Bachelor Degrees will be enough.

The most common format for a taught master's course is a combination of modules followed by a significant research project.

A Research Master’s is the first big step on the path to a career in academia, but as well as this it develops skills required in private fields such as working as research scientist or an economist. They are more independent than taught master’s courses, with the student selecting a research topic and working towards it under the guidance of a supervisor. They generally take between 12 and 24 months, or longer if taken part time.

Some masters courses are expected to be taken after working for several years. The MBA (Master's in Business Administration) is one example, it is a form of taught master’s course. MBA courses are often very expensive, but MBA graduates also have high average incomes.

3. Doctorate (PhD)

A PhD is a substantial piece of original research, presented in a thesis (a lengthy report). It takes several (3-5) years to write a thesis, involving extensive research.

Studying for a PhD develops extensive skills and independence, appropriate to many jobs. In some careers, such as science or economics, PhD’s are common, however in other sectors employers may be less familiar with the benefits of PhD study, and you may have to market your transferable skills to prospective employers after graduation.

4. Professional Postgrad Programmes

Some postgraduate programmes qualify graduates to practise in a profession. For example, the postgraduate qualifications to become a Patent Agent or a Speech Therapist, or the new Graduate Entry Route to Medicine.

Other professional courses are not compulsory for entry into a career but may increase career prospects. Examples include journalism, human resources, business or Law.

Students already employed in the relevant sector may be sponsored by their employer to gain a professional qualification in this way. Employer support might include arranging the course, payment of course fees and/or time off for study and exams.

Further Reading

Visit Fields of Study to explore the options available.

Visit Researching Postgrad Programmes to find out more about the range of programmes available to you.

Springboard+ offers free places on over 280 courses leading to awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level. Springboard+ is primarily targeted at jobseekers with a previous history of employment. Courses lead to qualifications for growing sectors including ICT, manufacturing and financial services.

The National Qualifications Framework

Graduate Level Qualifications are included in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) at Level 9 and Level 10.

Postgraduate Subjects Guide

Graduate programmes are offered at Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology across the fields of: Education; Services; Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences, Journalism and Information; Business, Administration and Law; Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics; ICT; Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction; Health and Welfare. Courses available to postgrad students range from History and Irish traditional music, to computer science and international management.

Source: HEA, Key Facts and Figures 2014/15

Most Postgraduate courses have a focus on helping graduates to specialise in their chosen fields and on gaining an edge in the jobs market.

Did you know ...

According to the European Commission, 80 million jobs will be created in Europe over the next 10 years and seven million of those will be in new technologies.

In recent years, third-level colleges have also responded to the demand for career-focused courses that allow graduates in one discipline to “convert” their skills, knowledge and experience to a new industry or profession.

The variety of conversion courses available today is quite extensive. Courses can be found in journalism, media and communications, health therapies, librarianship, psychology, social work, social policy, science and technology. 

Postgraduate Conversion Courses

Many graduates opt to do postgrad conversion courses in a completely different field to their undergraduate degree, using the opportunity as a springboard to a more vocational or specialised area. Typically, these are one-year taught courses. They are available in most subject areas, with many available in business subjects (such as HR and marketing), arts and humanities, IT and finance. They can be the first step in a postgraduate degree process or standalone qualifications and are highly valued by employers.

If you feel you didn’t reach full potential at undergraduate level, a conversion course can offer a chance to redress the balance. Follow the links for the various fields below for more information on Conversion Courses in that area.


Postgraduate study opportunities in education include Educational Management and Leadership, Educational Psychology, Educational Science. Since all teaching jobs require a teaching qualification, this tends to be the most popular postgraduate training destination. Specialist teaching qualifications are available in Career Guidance, Special Needs Education, Religion and Pastoral Care. TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is also a popular choice for graduates who plan to travel.

Convert to Teaching - The Postgraduate Application Centre (PAC) is a central application centre for postgrad teaching programmes. It processes applications for the new two-year professional master’s in education (PME) (The PME replaced the one-year H. Dip from September 2014).

Graduates of many disciplines can do a teaching postgrad, but check your primary degree meets the entry requirements for your proposed teaching subjects (Visit the Teaching Council for full details). 

Note: To teach in Northern Ireland, you need a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

Source: What do graduates do? (HEA, May 2016) - First destination trends for Postgraduate Diploma (Primary Level) and PDE (Second Level).


Postgraduate options in Arts and Humanities are vast. Opportunities range from journalism to PR to social work. Professions such as psychology and social work require a postgraduate qualification as a prerequisite. Other postgraduate options may include programmes that fuse the arts with sciences - music and media technologies or science communication. See Researching Postgraduate Progammes for links to individual college postgraduate options.

Conversion to Arts & Humanities - Conversion courses can be found in journalism, media and communications, health therapies, librarianship, psychology, social work, and social policy among others.


A wide variety of postgraduate options are available in these areas, both for those with relevant undergraduate degrees who may want to specialise (Marketing, HR or Corporate Finance for example), or opportunities for non-business undergrad degree holders to enhance their education and training with a business qualification.

Entry requirements vary depending on the college. Typically, a minimum 2.2 degree is required. A 2.1 or a first may be the bar for the most popular subjects. A detailed application form and an interview are usually part of the process of being accepted onto a programme.  See Researching Postgraduate Progammes for links to individual college postgraduate options.

Convert to Business - A master of business administration (MBA) is aimed at both working and recent graduates of business and other disciplines, to enhance and develop managerial and leadership skills. Conversion courses can be full-time for a year or part-time over two years. UCC offer an MBS in Management and Marketing conversion course.


Postgraduate study is a prerequisite for pursuing a career as a solicitor or a barrister and entry requires further training and professional examinations. Several colleges in Ireland offer preparatory courses to help you succeed with the entrance exams for the Law Society to train as a solicitor, or King's Inns, to train as a barrister.

Specialist law degrees range from diplomas to PhDs. The Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree is effectively a postgraduate degree, usually lasting one year. Most students continue from the LLB degree into the legal profession or to the more specialised and internationally recognised Master of Laws (LLM) programme.

The LLM can be done either by research, or by course work with a minor thesis. It offers a wide choice of specialisms from criminal law to intellectual property law. (See llm-guide).

Admission to an LLB or LLM degree course requires candidates to hold a second-class honours BCL (Bachelor of Civil Laws) degree or have other third-level qualifications or relevant professional experience. The LLM tends to have higher entry requirements than the LLB.

For entry to diploma or conversion to law courses a background in law is usually preferred, but some courses may be open to people with other qualifications or relevant experience.

Conversion courses are also available for non-law graduates wishing to train as solicitors. These will help you prepare for the necessary exams. Similarly, non-law graduates who wish to take the Barrister-at-Law degree course are required to pass the King's Inn Diploma in Legal Studies before they can sit the entrance exams.

Convert to Law - There are 107 postgraduate programmes in law on the Qualifax website, many open to non-law graduates. A postgrad law degree increases your expertise and specialism in a particular area of law, but is also widely respected in other sectors. For a career as a solicitor or barrister you must take the examinations of the professional body: the legal practice course (LPC) or the Bar Professional Training Course. A graduate diploma in law is the fast-track route on to these courses and is ideal for students without accredited undergraduate degrees in law.


There is a wide variety of postgraduate courses available in IT and computer science, with new disciplines emerging all the time. Most masters programmes have a major project as part of the course requirement. IT also offers many conversion courses, available to graduates of all backgrounds who have a keen interest in the area and are eager to develop it. Merging specialisations is also a growing trend, encouraged by government investment in ICT and science at postgraduate level.  See Researching Postgraduate Progammes for links to individual college postgraduate options.

Convert to IT - Given the high graduate rates of employment in the recent HEA report, it’s not surprising many graduates consider a conversion programme in IT. One-year courses are typical. These offer a solid grounding in theory and practice of computer science. Many colleges offer cross-departmental programmes; examples include the higher diploma in applied science (applied computing technology) at University College Cork, or the higher diploma in information technology at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

A postgraduate conversion course in IT can fast-track you on to a master’s, such as UCC’s MSc in interactive media or an MSc in data analytics at Dublin Institute of Technology. Government initiatives like Springboard and ICT Skills Conversions, which fund free or heavily subsidised places in IT and other tech growth areas for unemployed but skilled professionals from other industries, switching to ICT has been among the most popular conversion routes in recent times, particularly since you don’t generally need a science or engineering background.


Postgraduate qualifications in Science are typically research based, compared to maths and other quantitative disciplines which may include a substantial taught component. It is possible to do a PhD in science without completing a masters first. 

Holders of Postgraduate qualifications in Science are very much in demand. As well as leading to an academic career, a postgraduate degree in science can lead to a job in the enterprise sector, helping companies to drive innovation or put you on the path to a graduate science job in a specialist area such as food science.

Science postgraduates are employed for their specialist knowledge and skills, their ability to work independently and think analytically and innovatively, as well as their ability to conceptualise and question. To be most effective in a commercial environment, these need to be combined with the essential professional skills of good communication, teamwork and leadership.  See Researching Postgraduate Progammes for links to individual college postgraduate options.


Holders of an engineering degree have fantastic postgrad opportunities open to them. Collaborations with industry are common, where study is combined with practical work experience, providing scope to move into specialist areas of engineering.  See Researching Postgraduate Progammes for links to individual college postgraduate options.


It is common for people the healthcare profession to pursue further certificates and diplomas in specialist areas. A postgraduate qualification facilitates career progression, whilst also ensuring that knowledge levels are optimised. 

There are numerous Post-grad programmes available for those interested in this sector, from diplomas to PhDs in traditional medicine, right through to alternative therapies. New and emerging specialist areas include such titles as molecular medicine, pharmaceutical medicine and bioinformatics. Entry is competitive with typical requirements of a minimum 2.1 at undergraduate level, together with relevant experience.

There are also many opportunities to teach within this area since training at all levels and continuous professional development are requirements across the sector. A masters or a PhD level qualification is typically required for those who wish to pursue an academic or teaching career within medicine or healthcare. 

Convert to Medicine - The graduate entry medical schools at the University of Limerick, UCC, University College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, all offer four-year medical degrees for graduates of any discipline. The degree is not strictly a postgrad programme as the award is the same as that of an undergraduate medical student. Applicants need a 2.1 honours bachelor degree and a sufficiently high mark in the GAMSAT (Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test)


This area includes Sports, Leisure, Travel, Tourism and Occupational Health and Safety. M.Sc. programmes are available in Sports performance, Sports management, Sports psychology. Health programmes include Occupational Health, Public Health, Environmental Helath with career opportunities across such sectors as pharmachem, medtech, healthcare, statutory bodies, local authorities and consultancy firms.  See Researching Postgraduate Progammes for links to individual college postgraduate options.

Researching Postgrad Programmes

Choosing the right Post Graduate Course for you

Undertaking a post-graduate programme is a big investment in terms of time and money, so it's worth exploring all options before making a decision. Also, the range of post graduate options here and abroad is vast, so it takes time to consider all the options and possibilities.

The following factors come into play when selecting the option that's right for you:

  • Interest - Your level of interest in the area: while cost may be a big factor, the most important thing is whether or not the programme is of interest to you. This may seem obvious but it is crucial.
  • Mode(s) of study offered: if you already have a full and busy life even before you take on postgraduate study, then the mode of study you choose can make all the difference. Many educational providers offer options other than full-time study including part-time, distance or open/virtual learning environments with flexible approaches - Check this out first.
  • Opportunities for Graduates: most providers will be able to provide you with a copy of their "first destination survey". This will tell you where previous graduates have gone and what they are doing.
  • Supports for students and graduates: Does the provider have a career service and other supports (such as counselling, disability support, pastoral care, library, on-line access) that you can avail of during your studies?
  • Cost: this time of grant cuts it is a challenging one for students considering postgraduate studies.
  • Eligibility Criteria - Note any academic and/or other criteria specified, for example:

    • Minimum 2:1 award
    • Good honours degree
    • Appropriate primary degree
    • Professional experience
    • Evidence of interest
    • Personal Statement / Letter of recommendation (especially UK)
    • Interview
  • It is always advisable to investigate individual university /college websites for details of any research scholarships that may be available as well as for detailed descriptions of the postgraduate course, application procedures and closing dates for application.

Taught or Research Postgrad Programme?

Post graduate qualifications can be achieved through both taught and research programmes. Before you decide what you want to study, it's worth considering how you want to study for it - whether a Taught or a Research-based postgrad is the best fit for you. The decision regarding which to undertake really depends on the way you like to study.

Taught programmes 

Taught postgrad courses can be a continuation of your undergraduate studies or in an entirely new area. The duration of a course usually determines its qualification:

  • A Higher Certificate is generally a 30-credit programme over six modules
  • A Post -Graduate diploma is generally 60 credits
  • A Master's degree requires 90 credits and results in a Master of Science (MSc) or Master of Arts (MA) qualification

Delivery - Similar to an undergraduate bachelor's degree programme, they are delivered and assessed through a series of taught modules and may include independent research in the specialised subject area.

Assessment - a taught master's may include continuous assessment and examinations. Taught masters often include a research component, possibly during the summer and in some cases in an industry setting.The final assessment for a master's degree is usually based on the submission of a dissertation, typically between 10,000–20,000 words. 

Entry requirements and application deadlines - these vary from college to college. It is recommended that you aim for a 2.1 degree (although a 2.2 may be acceptable) and research your postgraduate study opportunities early in your final year to ensure you do not miss any important deadlines.

Research Programmes 

If you prefer the idea of intensive research and a more independent approach to working towards your master's degree without the constraints of attending timetabled lectures, then you may prefer to study for a research degree, usually resulting in a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil). If you opt for a research-based course, explore the available courses in your research area and the quality of the support and supervision offered. It can also be useful to contact potential employers in your research area for views on the programme’s strengths.

Duration - Research masters, (including the M.Litt) generally take 15 months to four years, depending on whether it’s full-time or part-time.  The research M.Phil takes 18–36 months full-time and 36–48 months part-time. 

Assessment - Research degrees are generally assessed entirely on the basis of a piece of individual research and an oral examination called a 'viva'. Qualification is achieved through the critical investigation and evaluation of an approved topic. You will also need to demonstrate an understanding of research methodologies appropriate to the chosen field. The starting point for an MPhil is a research proposal. You then work under supervision (usually by a senior academic) and carry out extensive research, using detailed research methods. You will analyse your results and publish your findings.

Entry requirements and application deadlines - Those planning to undertake a research degree should aim for a 2.1 grade in their undergraduate degree (a 2.2 may be acceptable, depending on the college). Closing dates vary from early in the academic year, right through to the summer months, depending on funding. Advice is to check the various institution websites for research masters on offer and, if you have a research proposal, make contact with a suitable department in the college where you would like to carry out your research.

Over 9,600 students engaged in full-time and part-time postgraduate research in 2014/15 across a wide range of disciplines:

 Source: HEA, Key Facts and Figures 2014/15 Fulltime and Part-time Master's by Research

If you are interested in a masters by research, reflect on what aspects of your undergraduate studies you enjoyed most and which areas you would like to study in greater depth. The main question is would like to be involved in extensive research, working on your own initiative under supervision for at least 18 months.

Progression to a Doctorate

A particular incentive for completing an M.Phil is the possibility of furthering your research studies and completing a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD).

While taught masters largely follow a structured timetable and a series of lectures, tutorials and seminars with your peers, research students will be self-motivated to assert themselves to carry out their investigations, analyse their results and meet regularly with their supervisor.

Some masters programmes will facilitate an immediate transfer on to a PhD., which takes a minimum of three years. The topic is generally determined by your area of interest and those of your supervisor. Some PhDs are designed for the lone scholar under the direction of a single expert supervisor. There are also structured PhDs where groups of students come together for transferable skills.

It is advisable to talk to the programme director to get help with deciding which structure best suits you and your work-style.

Video: CIT School of Graduate Studies

The links below will take you to the Postgraduate Studies area of the individual college websites:

Quick Profile Links College Graduate Studies Programme
Junior Cert Subjects  UCD UCD - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  UCC UCC - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  NUIG NUIG - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  NUIM NUIM - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  UL UL - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  DCU DCU - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  TCD TCD - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  St. Patrick's College St. Patricks College - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Mary Immaculate College MIC - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  St. Angela's College St. Angela's - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  NCAD NCAD - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  RCSI RCSI - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Mater Dei Institute Mater Dei - Postgraduate Studies
Institutes of Technology  
Junior Cert Subjects  Dublin IT DIT - Postgraduate Studies 
Junior Cert Subjects  IT Tallaght ITT - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  IT Blanchardstown ITB - Postgraduate Studies 
Junior Cert Subjects  IADT Dunlaoighre IADT - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Cork IT CIT - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Waterford IT WIT - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Athlone IT AIT - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  IT Sligo IT Sligo - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  IT Carlow IT Carlow - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Dundalk IT DKIT - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Limerick IT LIT - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Galway/Mayo IT GMIT - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  IT Tralee IT Tralee - Postgraduate Studies
Junior Cert Subjects  Letterkenny IT LYIT - Postgraduate Studies

Contacting the graduate studies office in each university and college is useful in identifying the best match for you.

Other Useful Links

The principle source of information on postgraduate courses is Qualifax from this link. Other sources of information include:

Also, visit Graduate Careers Fairs, especially those specifically aimed at postgraduate study.

Applying for Postgraduate Courses
In most cases application is made directly to the University or Institute. While there is no central system in place for applying for all post-graduate programmes in the Republic of Ireland, the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC) hosts application pages for a limited number of higher education institutions including DCU, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, UCC, CIT, GMIT, WIT the 3U partnership (Greater Dublin Universities of DCU/NUI Maynooth and RCSI).

For certain programmes such as teaching, including The Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PDE) which is the required qualification for all teaching posts in secondary, community and comprehensive schools, application is through the PAC. In some cases, you will need to apply directly to the institution. Applicants to Trinity's Postgraduate diploma in education apply directly to TCD. 

ALWAYS CHECK the application dates on the college prospectus or website.

Funding Postgraduate Study

Opting to pursue a postgraduate qualification is a big undertaking. As well as being time-consuming and hard work, it's a major financial commitment. Help may be available through sources such as bursaries, scholarships, and Research Council grants.

The Costs - Two separate costs are involved:

  • Tuition - the cost of tuition or fees you have to pay to the university or college where you plan to study
  • Living costs - accommodation, food, travel and entertainment etc.

Both vary according to what you are studying and where your studies are based. Most postgraduate funding, unlike undergraduate grants and awards, must be sought competitively. This is particularly true for research-based courses.

Fees (for Irish students) range from €3,000 at the lower end of the scale to an average of around €5,000 and up to €20,000+ for some programmes. Students should estimate on needing an additional €6,000 a year (minimum) to live on.

There are many sources of funding available, but there is no guarantee that even the holder of a First class degree will actually secure an award.

In general, postgraduate courses are fee paying. (See note below re financial assistance under the Student Grant Scheme)

There are different sources of funding for postgraduate students. Some courses are advertised in the newspapers and include funding. Sometimes financial support is available from the university that is running the postgraduate course; sometimes you need to apply to an external body. Awards are available for a range of subjects, both for taught courses and research programmes. They vary as to amount, duration and whether they only cover fees or additiobnally include maintenance.

There are strict eligibility rules and deadlines for application. In addition, there are a large number of postgraduate students competing for limited funding.

Sources through which you can seek financial support for your graduate studies include:

  • Postgraduate courses under the Graduate Skills Conversion Programme (see also Areas of Study)
  • Loans - you may be able to secure some of the money required by loan arrangement, depending on the amount needed and a guaranteed credit record.
  • Employers - your employer may be in a position to support your studies fiancially in exchange for a tenure agreement. For example: a contracted work period following completion of your studies, in return for fees and time invested.
  • Other sources - scholarships, bursaries, grants and awards are offered by a variety of bodies to help support post-graduate students in their studies. It is advisable to contact individual colleges directly to find out what supports they may have available. Many public and private sector organisations also offer funding opportunites for particular areas of study.

Check with:

  • Department of Education and Skills
  • Teagasc
  • Enterprise Ireland
  • The Health Research Board
  • Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) 
  • Irish Research Council for the Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Grant Aid

Note: Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), the Department of Education and Skills centralised student grant process, came into effect from in 2012. However, eligibility criteria for post-graduate fee support changed significantly:

Following budget changes, students entering postgraduate courses from year (2012/2013) are not entitled to a maintenance payment under the student grant scheme. Existing post-graduate students prior to this date are not affected.

Detailed information on postgraduate eligibility for grant aid and other financial supports can be found at

Research Council Grants

The Employment Based Postgraduate Programme provides funding for companies to employ high-calibre Researchers to work onsite with them on product, service or process innovations.

The Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme supports suitably qualified Research Masters and Doctoral candidates pursuing or intending to pursue full-time research in any discipline.

The Enterprise Partnership Scheme offers researchers the opportunity to gain additional beneficial experience and insight into the commercial arena while completing their research. This is an Irish Research Council initiative in partnership with private enterprise and public bodies.

See Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme 

Postgraduate Scholarships and Awards

Postgraduate awards are often offered as "Fees Only". This means that you will not receive any maintenance on which to live whilst studying; nor are you entitled to claim state benefits to cover the shortfall. If your postgraduate award does not include a maintenance element, you should estimate on needing an additional €6,000 a year minimum to live on.

A number of scholarships for study abroad are awarded annually by foreign governments to Irish students who are engaged in, or have completed a course of third-level education. Details of scholarships are circulated to universities and other relevant third-level institutions of education. Details of scholarships are also published on the Department of Education and Skills website. If you are interested in applying for these scholarships, you should contact the International Section of the Department of Education and Skills and ask to be placed on a mailing list for the scholarship offers. Application forms and relevant details will then be posted to you when the offers are open to receive applications.

Potential sources include the following:

The Central Remedial Clinic offers an annual scholarship for a student with a disability. The Dr. Ciaran Barry Research scholarship is reserved for a student undertaking a postgraduate degree and is open to any academic discipline. The grant covers one academic year of study. Details here.

The James M. Flaherty Scholarship Program - Scholarships will be awarded to support Canadians travelling to Ireland, and Irish travelling to Canada. Awards are made at two levels:

  • Emerging Research Scholars from both countries may apply for awards to facilitate a four-week visit to the other country, to make contact with researchers working on research topics which relate to both our countries and which are open to all university disciplines.
  • Established Researchers and Academics may apply for awards to enable part-time sabbatical-style leave from their academic appointments to spend up to two months as visiting professors in a university department in the other country, where they will collaborate in both research and teaching in academic areas which relate to both countries. Details here.
University  Funding/Award Details  Value
Maynooth University John and Pat Hume Doctoral Awards scheme - offers a number of scholarships for PhD research across all disciplines at Maynooth University. Fees support plus €4,000 per year for 4 years

Alumni scholarships for Maynooth graduates to do taught master’s courses at Maynooth University.

60 scholarships worth €2,000 for all graduates.



NUI Galway

Offers 100 postgraduate scholarships  for those with a first-class honours primary degree, who have been accepted onto a full-time taught master’s programme.

A number of other course-specific scholarships are also available for high-achieving students. See NUIG Funding and Research Opportunities



Variety of studentships and fellowships available for research students across all disciplines. Some 40 of these are funded by private donations, bequests and bursaries. There is no funding for taught postgraduate courses.

See TCD Postgraduate Funding

Ranging from €63 to €16,000+ a year.


Several school-specific and course-specific scholarships are available at UCC. Some cover course fees, e.g. the “Excellence” fees scholarships for applicants who intend starting a taught master’s or a one-year research master’s (MRes) in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences. Details here.


Scholarships, bursaries and awards for top-performing prospective and current postgraduate students including Caroline Walsh Bursary in Creative Writing



Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School - Aspire Scholarship Programme. Offers three MBA and nine MSc scholarships for those who could not otherwise afford to study at the school.

UCD School of English, Drama and Film Scoil an Bhéarla, na Drámaíochta agus na Scannánaíochta UCD - Maeve Binchy Travel Award commemorates Maeve Binchy, her love of travel and her world-celebrated creative writing. The Award, worth €4,000, is open to a student (undergraduate or postgraduate) currently enrolled in UCD’s College of Arts & Celtic Studies. The successful student will use the Award to fund a travel opportunity that will enhance her/his creative writing.


A number of course-specific scholarships for taught postgraduate programmes, such as those offered by the Kemmy Business School.


PhD scholarships in science and engineering.

Up to€23,500 a year for four years
Northern Ireland
Queens University Belfast QUB offers a wide range of annual university studentships for both taught and research programmes, which cover the full payment of tuition fees and include a maintenance allowance.
Queen’s also offers a number of other annual scholarships ranging from €650 to €5,000, and links to further external funding sources.
€650 to €5,000
University of Ulster Funding is available for both taught and research postgraduate study through studentships and scholarships, such as the Barnett Pharmaceutical Sciences Scholarship worth €10,000 for students on the MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences programme. €10,000
Cross Border North/South Postgraduate scholarships is a cross-Border scheme offering four scholarships worth €15,000 to high-achieving students from the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland who have been accepted on a recognised master’s degree or are entering the first year of a PhD at a university that is not in the same jurisdiction as the institution where they previously studied. €15,000

Universities Ireland will offer four “history bursaries” worth €6,500 to students undertaking post-graduate study on a topic relating to the 1912-1923 period in Ireland, the decade of the first World War and the division of the island into the states of Ireland (Irish Free State) and Northern Ireland.
USA The Fulbright Irish Student Awards are for Irish students and scholars to undertake postgraduate study and research at recognised colleges and academic institutions in the US. The student grant – the value of which varies depending on a number of factors – is only available for one year but students may remain in the US for the full duration of master’s and PhD programmes.
London Sotheby’s Institute of Art London,, which offers courses to those who want to move into the art business, offers scholarships to applicants of all nationalities for certain MA courses and provides funding based on the income of its students. See
Germany The German Government Awards scheme offers one-year grants for graduate students in any discipline who want to study at a German institution. The value is €750 per month plus an initial extra payment and a lump sum towards travel. €750 per month plus extras

Further information on Postgraduate funding, eligibility for grant aid and other financial supports can be found here:

Postgraduate Study Abroad

It is worth noting that there are many opportunities to undertake post-graduate and doctoral courses abroad. Those proving most popular are where the universitites are hungriest for native English speakers, for example: the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

In Denmark and Sweden you will have no fees to pay and in some countries where there are fees very often you can apply to the government for financial assistance.

There are also approximately 1,700 institutions open to students who wish to study in the US. In order to apply for courses and funding in the States you need to network and be proactive as possible. Many lectures and professors in Irish universities may have spent time in the US and therefore know people you can help you. It is recommended to start an application process to the US at least 18 months in advance.

You should also visit Graduate Career Fairs, particularly those aimed at postgraduate study.

You should be aware that applying to study abroad can be time consuming. It requires a lot of preparation and you will need to begin the process at least 18 months before the date you intent to start your postgrad programme.

Closing dates for application will typically fall early in the final year of your undergraduate programme, around October. Closing dates for colleges in the US are in December.

Factors to consider:

  • Subject choice
  • Entry requirements
  • Reputation of institution
  • Reputation of course supervisor
  • Personal preference
  • Potential funding sources

See also: Funding for postgraduate study

Some tips for researching your options, if you are thinking of postgraduate study abroad.

  • Do your research carefully. The internet is a great place to start, but not the only source of information available.
  • Try to find someone in your university of choice with knowledge of the course. This might be a tutor, careers adviser or former student. Initiate e-mail contact.
  • Where possible, visit the institutions whose courses appeal to you. It will help you to get a feel for the university, the department and the course, and you may well have an opportunity to meet staff and current students.
  • Investigate the career destinations of graduates from any course you are interested in, to see where it might take you.
  • Check if you need relevant work experience before starting your course. It may be a vital supplement to your study in order to gain new experience and contextualise what you have learnt. Thinking ahead will broaden your options and avoid a last minute panic!
  • Find out how the institution supports part time students. Part time study can be a great way of combining learning and work, and may help you to offset some of the costs of further study.
  • Research the employment areas you are interested in. You may find that the course doesn't necessarily increase your attractiveness to an employer. For example, they may not differentiate between candidates who apply with a first degree or with a masters.
  • Remember that further study is unlikely to buy you much more time to consider your options. One year courses in particular can be very pressurised. Students often have to begin applying for jobs in the autumn term, when they are still settling in!

Don’t assume that any course of study will make you the ideal candidate for a job or career. You will have to show employers what you have learnt and how it is relevant to their needs.

Useful Links

Sources of information for study abroad include:

PostGrad Courses by Sector [From Qualifax]
Accounting / Finance
Administration / Business
Administration / Business
Agriculture / Horticulture / Fisheries
Art and Design
Arts / Social Science / Community
Arts / Social Science / Community
Arts / Social Science / Community
Beauty / Hairdressing / Fashion
Built Environment / Construction
Computing / Information Technology
Engineering / Technology
Engineering / Technology
Engineering / Technology
Hospitality / Catering / Cookery
Human Medicine
Media / Audiovisual
Music / Drama / Dance
Other Health Care
Personal Skills
Science / Applied Science