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Masters Study in Ireland – A Guide for 2022

With ancient universities, a rich cultural heritage and a well-earned reputation as a friendly and welcoming country, it's no wonder that a Masters in Ireland is an attractive option for international students.

This page provides a full introduction to postgraduate study abroad in Ireland, including advice on universities, applications, tuition fees and funding opportunities. We’re also keeping an eye on the effect of coronavirus on students in Ireland.

On this page

Postgraduate opportunities in Ireland – what’s on offer for 2022?

Despite its small size, the breadth and expertise of the Irish higher education system makes it an excellent option for postgraduate study in all subject areas.

Prospective Masters students in humanities subjects such as literature or philosophy will be able to conduct their research in the homeland of figures as famous as Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift or George Berkeley. Meanwhile, those in science and technology fields will benefit from Ireland's investment in academic enterprise and partnerships between its educational institutions and high-tech industries.

Here are some of the most compelling reasons to study a Masters in Ireland in 2022:

  • International outlook – The presence of around 20,000 international students gives Irish universities a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
  • Academic heritage – Ireland is home to Trinity College Dublin, one of Britain and Ireland’s famous ‘Ancient Universities’.
  • Employment opportunities – There are generous terms for students who want to work part-time in Ireland, as well as those who want to find graduate employment after finishing their Masters.
  • English-speaking country – Along with Malta, Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone. One benefit of this is that lots of multinational companies have their base in Ireland.

Masters Study in Ireland - Key Details
Universities 13
Oldest University Trinity College Dublin (1592)
International Students 24,913
Course Length 1-2 years
Typical Fees (Domestic / EU) €4,000 (average)
Academic Year September to August

Coronavirus updates for international students at Irish universities

For the latest information on the impact of coronavirus on studying a Masters in Ireland, please read the official Education in Ireland COVID-19 guidance page. Here you can find updates regarding the phased reopening of campuses, residence permits and more.

Irish universities

Though a relatively small country, the Republic of Ireland still boasts several internationally-renowned higher education institutions.

Higher education in Ireland today follows two broad pathways, with most students opting to study at a university or an institute of technology. As a Masters student in Ireland you will be able to study at either type of institution, depending on the type of course and subject area you are interested in.

Irish universities

Irish universities are academic research and teaching institutions with broad coverage across various fields and subject areas. They offer a wide range of Masters programmes and around 25% of their students are usually postgraduates.

There are seven Irish universities in total, though four (University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth) are constituent colleges of the National University of Ireland.

This federated status does not restrict the autonomy of individual institutions. All are free to follow their own research agendas and develop their own programmes. You can therefore treat them as separate institutions when comparing their Masters programmes.

A Masters degree at an Irish university can suit all students' needs, but will be particularly attractive to students seeking to develop academic knowledge and take advantage of excellent research facilities.

Irish institutes of technology

Ireland's institutes of technology (IoT) were originally established in the 1960s as a means of offering professional education and training for highly skilled industries and enhancing academic and enterprise partnerships.

Since then they have developed to cover a range of fields, including arts, humanities and media subjects in addition to science and technology areas.

The majority of students at IoTs are undergraduates, but some specialised postgraduate programmes are also available. You can read more about the options available at IoTs at the website of their representative body, the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA).

A Masters degree at an Irish institute of technology can be a good choice for students wishing to focus on applied professional and vocational areas, with less emphasis on abstract academic theory and research.

What's it like to study abroad in Ireland?

Want to know more about life for international students in Ireland? Our detailed guide covers everything from accommodation and living costs to culture and entertainment.

Irish university rankings

Based purely on the number of its universities and research institutions, the Irish higher education system is one of the smallest in the British Isles. When it comes to academic prestige, however, universities in the Republic of Ireland are some of Europe's most respected.

This is reflected in global university rankings: universities from the Republic of Ireland place in the upper regions of each of the main international academic league tables.

Top Irish Universities in 2022
University THE 2022 QS 2022 ARWU 2021
Trinity College Dublin=146101151-200
RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences201-250--
University College Dublin201-250=173301-400
University College Cork251-300=298301-400
National University of Ireland, Galway351-400=258401-500
Dublin City University501-600=490-
Maynooth University501-600751-800-
University of Limerick601-800501-510901-1000
Technological University Dublin1001-1200801-1000-
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Do university rankings matter for postgraduates?

University league tables can help you in your search for a Masters degree, but you need to know what to look for. Our guide to university rankings for Masters study can help.

Irish university cities

Although Dublin is the academic hub of Ireland, there are several university towns across the Emerald Isle, each with their own unique charm and educational heritage.

You can browse postgraduate courses in Ireland by clicking the links below.

Course types

The Republic of Ireland is part of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and its qualifications follow an internationally-recognised format. As is common elsewhere in Europe, Irish Masters degrees are postgraduate (or 'second-cycle') programmes, completed after an undergraduate degree.

Masters degree length in Ireland

Most courses take at least one year of full-time study to complete, but some can last for two (this is likely for research-focussed programmes).

In most cases you will spend the two teaching semesters completing modular units of study and associated assessments, before commencing work on an independent research project and dissertation in the third semester and continuing with it over the summer.

This dissertation will account for a significant proportion of your overall grade and will usually be read by an external examiner as well as markers at your institution.

Students seeking to eventually progress to a PhD often enrol on a Masters by Research (such as an MRes), and either continue onto a subsequent doctoral programme in the same field or upgrade their status after reaching a certain point in their Masters studies.

In these cases the emphasis is on a long research project, though some taught units may take place in the opening stages of a research Masters programme.

Academic year in Ireland

The academic year in Ireland follows a similar pattern to the UK. Teaching semesters usually run between September and December and between January and June, with holidays at Christmas and Easter and a longer summer vacation over July and August.

As a Masters student you will usually spend this latter period researching and writing your dissertation.

Search for a Masters in Ireland

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Ireland on FindAMasters.com

Masters fees and funding in Ireland

The cost of Masters programmes in Ireland varies, but international students pay the same rate as domestic students for some courses. Funding is also available to help support postgraduate study.

Masters fees in the Republic of Ireland

Postgraduate fees at most Irish universities are calculated according to student nationality.

  • EU and EEA students can expect the cost for a year of full time study to be between €4,400 and €10,000. Fees for more expensive programmes in subjects such as business or medicine will be closer to €20,000-€30,000.
  • Students from outside the EU and EEA can expect to pay around €9,950 per year as a minimum, with some courses costing up to €34,500 per year. Again, business and medicine subjects are likely to be at the more expensive end of this range.

Masters funding in the Republic of Ireland

Various funding options exist for international students looking to study for a Masters in the Republic of Ireland.

Individual universities often offer fee waivers to some Masters students or will provide scholarships out of charitable endowments. You can investigate these options by exploring your institution's website or by getting in touch with them directly.

Government funding bodies such as the Irish Research Council also provide general support for postgraduate study in Ireland.

See our guide to Masters Scholarships in Ireland for more information.

Applying for a Masters in Ireland

The minimum academic prerequisite for admission to a Masters programme in Ireland will usually be a relevant undergraduate degree with second class honours or better.

Universities may also ask applicants to submit a personal statement describing their interest in the course and field as well as outlining their research aims (where appropriate).

In some cases you may be required to attend an interview; this is more likely for competitive courses at particularly prestigious institutions.

The Postgraduate Applications Centre

Several Irish universities conduct their applications process through a separate organisation, known as the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC).

The PAC operates an online registration and applications portal that provides detailed information about the requirements for individual courses and conducts the process from initial application to the final decision. Multiple applications may be made in parallel, but the PAC charges a non-refundable processing fee of €50.

To find out whether it operates the applications process for a given course, visit the PAC website.

Language requirements

Though the official language of the Republic of Ireland is Irish (and many citizens speak Irish to some degree) English is the first language for most of the population and used for teaching at all of the country's higher education institutions.

If English is not your first language (and you have not previously studied on a programme delivered in English) you may be asked to submit a score from a recognised language test as part of your application.

Irish universities and IoTs accept various internationally recognised tests, including the TOEFL, IELTS and PTE Academic formats.

Test Score Requirement
Internet-Based TOEFL 88
IELTS 6.5 (minimum of 6.0 in each component)
PTE Academic Minimum score of 6.3

Of course, you can also use your time as a Masters student in the Republic of Ireland to learn a little Irish. Irish is an ancient language with a unique cadence and is the medium for the oldest vernacular literature in Western Europe.

Employers may not regard a little Irish fluency as a key skill on your CV, but they'll certainly recognise the spirit of adventure and exploration it represents. Plus, the experience will, as they say, be 'good craic'.

Masters student visas in Ireland

Visa information for UK students in The Republic of Ireland

UK students will no longer be EU citizens from the 2021-22 academic year onwards. This means you may be considered as an international student when studying in Ireland. You may be subject to different visa requirements and fee rates, unless otherwise stated.

As a member state of the EU, Ireland allows students from other EU and EEA countries (plus Switzerland) to enter for study without requiring a formal visa. So long as you possess student status you will also not need a residence permit.

Citizens of non-EU and EEA countries will need to apply for a visa to enter Ireland and register with one of the following organisations upon arrival in the country:

  • The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) if you’ll be living in Dublin
  • The Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) if you’ll be living outside Dublin

This will allow you to receive an Irish Residence Permit (IRP), the fee for which is €300.

To learn more about Irish visa requirements and possible exemptions for citizens of different countries, check the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service's website.

Applying for a visa

You can apply for a visa to study in the Republic of Ireland through the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, which also offers more information on the documentation required by different applicants according to their circumstances.

An Irish embassy or consulate in your home country will also be able to provide more information.

General application documents and requirements will include the following:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of enrolment at a recognised Irish university.
  • Proof of health insurance (if required)

You may also be asked to demonstrate that you possess sufficient finances to support yourself during your studies. Acceptable evidence will generally include confirmation of a scholarship or proof of savings.

Health insurance

EU and EEA citizens will be covered for hospital treatment provided they carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Students from other countries will need to acquire their own private health insurance and proof of this will be required during applications for a visa and residence card.

Next steps

Graduate opportunities are a core principle in the design and organisation of higher education in Ireland, with extensive work being carried out to ensure that students possess the key skills desired by employers in addition to their subject knowledge and academic expertise.

It is not uncommon for Masters programmes in Ireland to include in-company placements or for business and industry partnerships to play a role in funding and designing courses.

Can you remain in Ireland to seek work after a Masters degree?

Ireland's pride in the quality of its higher education employability is reflected in the country's welcoming approach to employment law for international graduates.

Students from the EU and EEA are automatically allowed to seek work after studying in Ireland as a condition of international law, but a version of this right is also extended to citizens of other countries under Ireland's Third Level Graduate Scheme.

Post-study work in Ireland under the Third Level Graduate Scheme

The Third Level Graduate Scheme allows international (non-EU or EEA) students to work in Ireland for up to 24 months after graduating from an Irish university. During this period you can work full time (up to 40 hours per week) without needing any additional permit.

In order to participate in this scheme you will need to renew your Irish Residence Permit for a further year. This will normally cost another €300.

You will also need a letter from your university, confirming that you have graduated successfully from your Masters degree.

Once the initial 12 month period of your Third Level Graduate Scheme is complete, it’ll be renewed for a further 12 months if you can show that you’ve been looking for graduate employment. You can use this time to apply for a more permanent permit to work in Ireland (such as an Irish Green Card). This is subject to having found suitable graduate employment and is not automatically guaranteed in all cases.

Can you remain in Ireland for further study after a Masters degree?

Yes – in addition to preparing you well for a professional career, an Irish Masters degree will also provide and excellent platform for further study at PhD level. Visit FindAPhD.com to learn more about studying a PhD in Ireland and to view PhD opportunities at Irish universities.

Search for a Masters in Ireland

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Ireland on FindAMasters.com

Last updated 22/10/2021

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